Legislature(2019 - 2020)SENATE FINANCE 532

04/24/2019 09:00 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 95 Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
                 SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      April 24, 2019                                                                                            
                         9:02 a.m.                                                                                              
9:02:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair  von  Imhof  called the  Senate  Finance  Committee                                                                    
meeting to order at 9:02 a.m.                                                                                                   
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Natasha von Imhof, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Senator Bert Stedman, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Click Bishop                                                                                                            
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
Senator David Wilson                                                                                                            
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
Senator Mike Shower                                                                                                             
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Senator  Cathy  Giessel;  Senator Scott  Kawasaki,  Sponsor;                                                                    
Jacob Gerrish,  Staff, Senator Scott Kawasaki;  Kris Curtis,                                                                    
Legislative Auditor,  Alaska Division of  Legislative Audit;                                                                    
Bev   Schoonover,  Acting   Executive  Director,   Statewide                                                                    
Suicide  Prevention Council;  Sam  Trivette, Juneau  Suicide                                                                    
Prevention Coalition,  Juneau; Linda  Brazak, Administrative                                                                    
Operations   Manager,   Division   of   Behavioral   Health,                                                                    
Department of  Health and  Social Services;  Maridon Boario,                                                                    
Staff,  Senator   Lyman  Hoffman;  Lisa   Parady,  Executive                                                                    
Director, Alaska Council  of School Administrators; Patience                                                                    
Fredericksen, Director  of Libraries, Archives  and Museums,                                                                    
Department of Education and Early Development.                                                                                  
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Barbara   Franks,  Chair,   Statewide  Suicide   Prevention,                                                                    
Ninilchik; Sharon  Fishel, Education  Specialist, Department                                                                    
of  Education  and  Early  Development;  Katie  Botz,  Self,                                                                    
Minnesota;  Dan  Walker,   Superintendent,  Lower  Kuskokwim                                                                    
School District;  Brett Agenbroad,  Superintendent, Pribilof                                                                    
School  District; Sam  Jordan, Self,  Juneau; John  Conwell,                                                                    
Superintendent  Unalaska   City  School   District;  Patrick                                                                    
Mayer, Superintendent, Yakutat School District.                                                                                 
SB 10     EXTEND SUICIDE PREVENTION COUNCIL                                                                                     
          SB 10 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
SB 74     INTERNET FOR SCHOOLS                                                                                                  
          SB 74 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
SB 95     SETBACKS, SUBMERGED LAND, LAND TRANSFERS                                                                              
          SB 95 was REPORTED out of committee with a "no                                                                        
          recommendation"   recommendation   and  with   one                                                                    
          previously published zero fiscal note: FN 1(CED).                                                                     
Co-Chair von  Imhof reminded  the committee  that SB  66 had                                                                    
been removed from the agenda.                                                                                                   
SENATE BILL NO. 95                                                                                                            
     "An Act approving the transfer of certain Alaska                                                                           
     Railroad Corporation land; and providing for an                                                                            
     effective date."                                                                                                           
9:03:37 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  von Imhof  relayed that  the  committee had  first                                                                    
heard SB 95  on April 9, 2019. Public  testimony was closed.                                                                    
Her  office had  received  no amendments  nor  heard of  any                                                                    
concerns pertaining to the bill.                                                                                                
Senator Wielechowski MOVED to report  SB 95 out of Committee                                                                    
with individual recommendations  and the accompanying fiscal                                                                    
note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                              
SB   95  was   REPORTED  out   of  committee   with  a   "no                                                                    
recommendation"  recommendation  and   with  one  previously                                                                    
published zero fiscal note: FN 1(CED).                                                                                          
SENATE BILL NO. 10                                                                                                            
     "An  Act   extending  the   termination  date   of  the                                                                    
     Statewide  Suicide  Prevention Council;  and  providing                                                                    
     for an effective date."                                                                                                    
9:04:37 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SCOTT KAWASAKI, SPONSOR, introduced himself.                                                                            
JACOB GERRISH, STAFF, SENATOR SCOTT KAWASAKI, introduced                                                                        
Senator Kawasaki discussed SB 10. He read from a Sponsor                                                                        
Statement (copy on file):                                                                                                       
     Senate  Bill 10  would extend  the termination  date of                                                                    
     the  Statewide  Suicide  Prevention  Council  to  2027,                                                                    
     ensuring  another eight  years of  support for  suicide                                                                    
     prevention  efforts   in  Alaska.  The   Council  would                                                                    
     otherwise be terminated on June 30, 2019.                                                                                  
     According  to  the  Alaska  Department  of  Health  and                                                                    
     Social  Services Section  of Epidemiology,  the suicide                                                                    
     rate  in Alaska  increased by  13 percent  between 2012                                                                    
     and  2017, making  suicide the  leading cause  of death                                                                    
     for  Alaskans between  the  ages  of 10  and  64. As  a                                                                    
     matter   of   public   health,    the   state   has   a                                                                    
     responsibility  to address  this  disturbing trend  and                                                                    
     must actively continue to  pursue strategies to prevent                                                                    
     suicide in Alaska.                                                                                                         
     The  Statewide Suicide  Prevention Council  was created                                                                    
     in 2001 and consists of  14 public and private members,                                                                    
     including four  state legislators. Under  AS 44.39.350,                                                                    
     the Council is statutorily responsible for:                                                                                
          ?Advising legislators and the Governor on ways to                                                                     
          improve Alaskans' health and wellness by reducing                                                                     
          ?Improving public awareness of suicide and risk                                                                       
          ?Enhancing suicide prevention efforts;                                                                                
          ?Working    with    partners    and    faith-based                                                                    
          organizations to develop healthier communities;                                                                       
          ?Creating a statewide suicide prevention plan and                                                                     
          putting it in action; and                                                                                             
          ?Building and strengthening partnerships to                                                                           
          prevent suicide.                                                                                                      
     The Council  holds public meetings, publishes  a 5-Year                                                                    
     State Suicide  Prevention Plan, and works  with schools                                                                    
     and community groups to  provide resources that educate                                                                    
     Alaskans on how to prevent suicide.                                                                                        
     Last  year,  the  Council  partnered  with  the  Alaska                                                                    
     Community  Foundation and  Alaska  Children's Trust  to                                                                    
     continue  the  GCI  Suicide Prevention  Grant  Program.                                                                    
     Nine  grants  were funded  in  2017  across the  state,                                                                    
     totaling  $100,000.  The  Council  also  helped  secure                                                                    
     funding for a 5-year  grant from the National Institute                                                                    
     of   Mental  Health   to  create   the  Alaska   Native                                                                    
     Collaborative Hub  for Resilience Research,  which will                                                                    
     help Alaska  Native communities share  knowledge, guide                                                                    
     research,  and  identify  culturally  relevant  suicide                                                                    
     prevention strategies in rural Alaska.                                                                                     
     Terminating  the Statewide  Suicide Prevention  Council                                                                    
     would  jeopardize  the  state's efforts  at  addressing                                                                    
     this   heartbreaking,   but   preventable,   issue.   I                                                                    
     respectfully ask for your support of SB 10 this year.                                                                      
Senator Kawasaki added that the council would sunset on                                                                         
June 30, 2019 if it were not extended.                                                                                          
9:07:46 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Olson considered the extension of the council and                                                                       
reflected on the proposed eight-year extension. He wondered                                                                     
how to determine whether the council had been effective.                                                                        
Senator Kawasaki responded that there had been recent                                                                           
progress in the area of prevention.                                                                                             
9:09:08 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Olson queried whether there were numbers to show                                                                        
the council had been effective in reducing suicide.                                                                             
Senator Kawasaki preferred to let council members discuss                                                                       
the work of the council.                                                                                                        
9:10:02 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair von  Imhof noted that  there was  invited testimony                                                                    
to address questions.                                                                                                           
9:10:32 AM                                                                                                                    
KRIS  CURTIS,   LEGISLATIVE  AUDITOR,  ALASKA   DIVISION  OF                                                                    
LEGISLATIVE AUDIT, referenced the  audit "A Sunset Review of                                                                    
the  Department of  Health  and  Social Services,  Statewide                                                                    
Suicide  Prevention  Council   (council)"  dated  August  3,                                                                    
2018(copy  on file).  She read  from the  report conclusions                                                                    
from the front page of the audit:                                                                                               
     The audit  found the council  operated in  the public's                                                                    
     interest by actively  broadening the public's awareness                                                                    
     of suicide  prevention and coordinating the  efforts of                                                                    
     other  suicide  prevention   entities  including  State                                                                    
     agencies,  regional   groups,  coalitions,   and  local                                                                    
     communities.  Additionally, the  council fulfilled  its                                                                    
     statutory  duty   by  issuing  the   2018-2022  Suicide                                                                    
     Prevention Plan  and working closely  with stakeholders                                                                    
     to  add and  refine the  plan's strategies,  resources,                                                                    
     and   indicators.  The   audit   also  concluded   that                                                                    
     administrative  improvements  were   needed  to  ensure                                                                    
     council meetings are adequately  public noticed and the                                                                    
     executive  director  is  consistently evaluated  on  an                                                                    
     annual basis.                                                                                                              
Ms. Curtis referenced Page 4  of the audit, which showed the                                                                    
council's schedule of expenditures  and funding sources. The                                                                    
council was  funded by General Fund  (GF) appropriations for                                                                    
just  over  $650,000 in  FY  18.  The expenditures  for  the                                                                    
council were just under $600,000 in FY 18.                                                                                      
Ms. Curtis  referenced Pages  9 and 10  of the  audit, which                                                                    
showed  a list  of council  activities. She  noted that  the                                                                    
council   was    very   active.   The   council    had   two                                                                    
recommendations for  the council, which  were administrative                                                                    
and   should    be   easily   addressed.   She    read   the                                                                    
recommendations listed on Page 12 of the audit:                                                                                 
     Recommendation No. 1:  The council's executive director                                                                    
     should  develop  and  implement  procedures  to  ensure                                                                    
     public notices  for meetings  are published  timely and                                                                    
     From  July 2014  through  March 2018,  five  of the  18                                                                    
     meetings held  (28 percent) were not  public noticed or                                                                    
     not  public noticed  properly.  Specifically, two  were                                                                    
     not  published on  the  State's  Online Public  Notices                                                                    
     system,  two  were  published  with  incorrect  meeting                                                                    
     dates,  and one  was  published one  day  prior to  the                                                                    
     meeting. Th  e deficiencies  were caused  by a  lack of                                                                    
     written procedures to ensure  notices are posted timely                                                                    
     and contain accurate meeting dates.                                                                                        
     Recommendation No. 2: The  council chair should develop                                                                    
     and implement written  procedures to ensure performance                                                                    
     evaluations  are completed  annually for  the council's                                                                    
     executive director.                                                                                                        
     Between July 2014 and March  2018, two evaluations were                                                                    
     completed  for  the  executive director;  however,  two                                                                    
     more  should have  been completed.  Specifically, there                                                                    
     were no evaluations for the  period of November 2014 to                                                                    
     November  2015, and  November 2015  to  June 2016.  Per                                                                    
     discussion with council staff  and the previous council                                                                    
     chair,  it  is unclear  why  the  evaluations were  not                                                                    
     completed for the executive director.                                                                                      
The responses  to the  audit began on  Page 23.  The council                                                                    
and  the department  concurred with  the report  conclusions                                                                    
and recommendations.                                                                                                            
9:13:10 AM                                                                                                                    
BEV   SCHOONOVER,  ACTING   EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR,   STATEWIDE                                                                    
SUICIDE PREVENTION COUNCIL, thanked  the committee for their                                                                    
work. She  noted that  she had  been acting  in the  role of                                                                    
executive  director since  January 2019.  She said  that the                                                                    
council had been established by  the legislature in 2001 and                                                                    
served  as  an advisory  council  to  the governor  and  the                                                                    
legislature regarding suicide  awareness and prevention. She                                                                    
shared that  there were 13  volunteer members,  appointed by                                                                    
the  governor, and  4 ex-officio  members  appointed by  the                                                                    
legislature. She stated that the  council had one, full-time                                                                    
staff  member, co-located  in the  shared  offices with  the                                                                    
Alaska Mental Health  Trust board and the  Advisory Board on                                                                    
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. She  related that the council met                                                                    
three times  per year  via video  conference, and  held one,                                                                    
in-person   meeting,  per   year,  typically   in  a   rural                                                                    
Ms. Schoonover  noted that most of  the council's activities                                                                    
involved   coordinating    collaborative   efforts   between                                                                    
stakeholders,  supporting outreach  in educational  programs                                                                    
through  the Suicide  Awareness  Prevention and  Postvention                                                                    
grant programs, advocating for  federal and private funding,                                                                    
and  providing technical  assistance as  needed. She  shared                                                                    
that one  example of statewide coordination  efforts was the                                                                    
completion   of  the   5-year   prevention  plan   entitled,                                                                    
 Recasting the  Net: Promoting  Wellness to  Prevent Suicide                                                                    
in Alaska.   She furthered that  thanks to  extensive public                                                                    
input  and stakeholder  collaboration hundreds  of Alaskans,                                                                    
from all  over the  state, participated  in the  creation of                                                                    
the plan.  She related that  the number one  goal identified                                                                    
in  the  plan by  all  the  stakeholders was  that  Alaskans                                                                    
accept responsibility for preventing suicide.                                                                                   
Ms. Schoonover  expressed the belief that  all Alaskans have                                                                    
been  touched  by  suicide and  had  the  responsibility  to                                                                    
address and reduce  the risk of suicide  statewide. She said                                                                    
that  the council  brought Alaskans  together to  talk about                                                                    
suicide, to  evaluate prevention efforts,  advised agencies,                                                                    
the governor,  and the  legislature on  how wellness  can be                                                                    
promoted, and coordinated state  agencies and other entities                                                                    
so  that  they  could  work  together  more  effectively  to                                                                    
prevent suicide.  She noted that  no other  agency performed                                                                    
the statewide coordinator function.  She urged the committee                                                                    
to extend the council through 2027.                                                                                             
9:16:17 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  von Imhof  thought Ms.  Schoonover had  touched on                                                                    
the primary  role of  the council,  which was  to coordinate                                                                    
local  organizations all  over  the state.  She thought  the                                                                    
critical role of connecting resources was important.                                                                            
9:17:09 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Bishop  asked what Ms. Schoonover  had considered to                                                                    
get more resources  in communities to address  the high rate                                                                    
of suicide in the state.                                                                                                        
Ms. Schoonover  noted that there  had been a vacancy  in the                                                                    
Division of  Behavioral Health  for a  Prevention Specialist                                                                    
that had recently been filled  by Leah van Kirk. She thought                                                                    
Ms. Van Kirk, along with  Eric Boyer from AMHTA, and Project                                                                    
Assistant  Eric Morrison,  working  with  the council  would                                                                    
prove especially fruitful in suicide prevention in 2020.                                                                        
9:18:33 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair von  Imhof commended  the council  for coordinating                                                                    
across agencies.                                                                                                                
9:19:18 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair von Imhof OPENED public testimony.                                                                                     
9:19:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SAM TRIVETTE,  JUNEAU SUICIDE PREVENTION  COALITION, JUNEAU,                                                                    
thanked Senator Kawasaki and  the co-sponsors for sponsoring                                                                    
the bill. It  was the third legislative session  that he had                                                                    
testified  for  the  extension  of the  council.  He  was  a                                                                    
survivor  of suicide  loss. He  lost his  son to  suicide on                                                                    
June 28, 2007.  He asserted that the council  had linked him                                                                    
to  national experts  and resources  helping to  tackle this                                                                    
major  public health  problem and  was the  glue that  bound                                                                    
together  all the  people in  the state  working on  suicide                                                                    
prevention  issues.  He  provided several  examples  of  the                                                                    
positive changes  he had  witnessed due to  the work  of the                                                                    
council:  destigmatizing suicide,  The  Care Line  (Alaskas                                                                     
suicide prevention hotline) had  seen a three-fold increase,                                                                    
over the last four fiscal years,  to over 21,000 calls in FY                                                                    
Mr.  Trivette   discussed  suicide  prevention   efforts  in                                                                    
schools. He  shared that  the data showed  that the  rate of                                                                    
kids  willing to  contact an  adult with  risk concerns  was                                                                    
over 42  percent. There had  been a substantial  increase in                                                                    
hospitals  and   health  care  centers  that   screened  for                                                                    
suicide,  which was  a major  change  from 5  years ago.  He                                                                    
urged  the  committee  to  support   the  extension  of  the                                                                    
9:24:10 AM                                                                                                                    
BARBARA   FRANKS,  CHAIR,   STATEWIDE  SUICIDE   PREVENTION,                                                                    
NINILCHIK (via  teleconference), testified that she  was the                                                                    
mother of a child that died  by suicide. Her son had died by                                                                    
suicide  on December  14,  1997. She  shared  that two  days                                                                    
later  her husband  died from  cancer. She  had known  there                                                                    
were people that were advocating  for cancer support, but at                                                                    
that time she had not  found support groups for suicide. She                                                                    
referenced  her colleague  Cynthia  Erickson,  who had  been                                                                    
recognized for  her work with  Grandmas House.  She believed                                                                    
that domestic  violence, sexual assault, drugs,  and alcohol                                                                    
were  related  to  suicide.  She  said  that  in  2013,  the                                                                    
National  Suicide Prevention  Lifeline had  received over  a                                                                    
million calls. She  said that in 2018,  2,224,408 people had                                                                    
called the  number. She expressed deep  appreciation for the                                                                    
work of the council and statewide allies.                                                                                       
9:28:37 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  von  Imhof thanked  Ms.  Franks  for her  powerful                                                                    
SHARON   FISHEL,   EDUCATION   SPECIALIST,   DEPARTMENT   OF                                                                    
EDUCATION  AND   EARLY  DEVELOPMENT   (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified in  support of the bill.  She had lost her  son to                                                                    
suicide in 2010.                                                                                                                
Co-Chair von Imhof requested further  information on how the                                                                    
department coordinated with schools in the state.                                                                               
Ms.  Fishel  noted that  the  funding  provided through  the                                                                    
council was  the primary source  of funding for  suicide and                                                                    
trauma work  accomplished through DEED. She  stated that the                                                                    
there were  currently 23,000  users for  online professional                                                                    
development.   She  said   that  wile   DEED  offered   many                                                                    
professional development resources to  all districts, by far                                                                    
the  largest  and  most  popular  were  the  online  suicide                                                                    
prevention  courses supported  by the  funding. She  relayed                                                                    
that the  department also provided  competitive school-based                                                                    
suicide  prevention  grants   on  a  three-year  competitive                                                                    
process  to up  to 10  districts throughout  the state.  She                                                                    
said that every year  schools provided progress reports. She                                                                    
shared that  the Nome School  District had a  youth leaders'                                                                    
program  that taught  groups of  students to  be leaders  in                                                                    
their communities based on the  Natural Helpers Program. She                                                                    
said that these youth were  making positive changes in their                                                                    
communities. She  relayed that it  was difficult to  say how                                                                    
many lives had  been saved by the programs  and she lamented                                                                    
that suicide was the leading cause  of death for those 14 to                                                                    
24-years old in the state.                                                                                                      
9:32:26 AM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  Fishel  believed  that   school  districts  were  doing                                                                    
phenomenal work across the state.                                                                                               
9:33:06 AM                                                                                                                    
KATIE BOTZ, SELF,  MINNESOTA (via teleconference), testified                                                                    
in support  of the  bill. She thought  Alaska was  second in                                                                    
the country  for its number  of suicides. She  believed that                                                                    
suicide  was a  taboo  subject. She  revealed  that she  had                                                                    
considered  suicide.  She  lamented  that  there  were  many                                                                    
people that  did not  have an  adequate support  system. She                                                                    
urged support for the extension of the council.                                                                                 
9:35:54 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair von Imhof CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                     
Co-Chair  von   Imhof  listed   the  people   available  for                                                                    
9:36:27 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
9:36:8 AM                                                                                                                     
Co-Chair  Stedman  discussed  FN1  from  the  Department  of                                                                    
Health and  Social Services, OMB Component  Number 2651. The                                                                    
note showed $648,400  in the governor's FY  20 request, with                                                                    
flat funding for the subsequent five years.                                                                                     
Co-Chair von Imhof set the bill aside for further review.                                                                       
SB  10  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 74                                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to funding for Internet services for                                                                      
     school districts."                                                                                                         
9:38:09 AM                                                                                                                    
MARIDON BOARIO, STAFF, SENATOR LYMAN  HOFFMAN, read from the                                                                    
sponsor statement for SB 74 (version S) (copy on file):                                                                         
     SB 74  increases the broadband requirement  for schools                                                                    
     from  10  megabits per  second  (Mbps)  to 25  Mbps  of                                                                    
     download  speed and  provides funding  to help  schools                                                                    
     reach  the   25  Mbps  through  the   School  Broadband                                                                    
     Assistance Grant (BAG).                                                                                                    
     Districts   that  qualify   for  discounted   rate  for                                                                    
     internet services under  the Federal Universal Services                                                                    
     Program are eligible.                                                                                                      
     The Universal  Service Administrative  Company, Schools                                                                    
     and  Libraries  Program,  commonly known  as  "E-rate,"                                                                    
     provides  discounts  of  up   to  90  percent  to  help                                                                    
     eligible  schools and  libraries in  the United  States                                                                    
     obtain   affordable  telecommunications   and  internet                                                                    
     The School BAG  was established in 2014  and created to                                                                    
     assist schools to reach internet  download speeds of 10                                                                    
     Mbps. Currently  the grant funds  may be used  to cover                                                                    
     eligible  costs incurred  by the  school districts  for                                                                    
     schools that have  less than 10 Mbps  each fiscal year.                                                                    
     Since 2014 new and  improved technologies and increases                                                                    
     to internet  services have allowed for  more and faster                                                                    
     delivery  of internet  services.  Because  the cost  of                                                                    
     internet  in some  rural districts  has decreased,  the                                                                    
     annual  internet  costs  have  fallen  below  the  2014                                                                    
     benchmark  established by  state law.  To allow  school                                                                    
     districts  to  utilize  these   advances,  SB  74  will                                                                    
     increase the minimum requirement of  Mbps from 10 to 25                                                                    
     which will increase the  amount of Broadband Assistance                                                                    
     Grants  (BAG)   that  the  state  can   pay  to  school                                                                    
     In  2019,  80  schools  in  20  school  districts  will                                                                    
     benefit from the school BAG awards.                                                                                        
     The   funding  leverages   federal   E-rate  funds   at                                                                    
     approximately 8:1. The program  allows for leverage for                                                                    
     up  to 9:1  based on  a  formula for  free and  reduced                                                                    
     lunch calculation by district.                                                                                             
     Thank  you for  your  consideration of  SB  74 to  help                                                                    
     bring improved  broadband services to rural  Alaska and                                                                    
     improve service for schools across the state.                                                                              
     I  urge your  support  of this  legislation to  provide                                                                    
     Alaskan  students,  classrooms  and  teachers  and  all                                                                    
     educators better access to the digital world.                                                                              
9:40:45 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stedman  wondered  why the  internet  in  Angoons                                                                     
school was  slow when there was  fiberoptic cable connecting                                                                    
the community.                                                                                                                  
Ms.  Boario thought  the  question should  be  asked to  the                                                                    
telecommunication  company  in  charge of  the  fiber  optic                                                                    
Co-Chair von  Imhof thought Co-Chair Stedman  had proposed a                                                                    
good question. She  thought that telecommunication companies                                                                    
should be questioned.                                                                                                           
9:42:01 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stedman thought  that  more fiber  optic hook  ups                                                                    
would help to serve more communities internet needs.                                                                            
Co-Chair von Imhof agreed that  internet connection was good                                                                    
for telehealth and tele education.                                                                                              
9:42:33 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Wilson noted  that in FY 19 there  had been upgrades                                                                    
to 80  schools in  the state. He  wondered whether  they had                                                                    
been considered in the legislation.                                                                                             
Ms. Boario  said that it  was expected  that in FY  2019, 80                                                                    
schools, in  20 districts, would  reach the 10  megabits per                                                                    
second with the School Broadband Assistance grant.                                                                              
Senator Wilson asked whether  rural schools were prioritized                                                                    
over schools in the Railbelt.                                                                                                   
Ms.  Boario  understood  that the  program  was  created  to                                                                    
primarily assist rural school  districts, however all school                                                                    
districts in the state could apply.                                                                                             
9:43:56 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair von  Imhof noted that  there were people  online to                                                                    
answer technical questions.                                                                                                     
9:44:24 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA PARADY,  EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,  ALASKA COUNCIL  OF SCHOOL                                                                    
ADMINISTRATORS, testified in support of  SB 74. She was also                                                                    
representing  Norm Wooten,  the  Executive  Director of  the                                                                    
Association  of Alaska  School Boards.  She reiterated  that                                                                    
the  bill  increased  the   broadband  requirement  from  10                                                                    
megabits  per  second to  25megabits  per  second. The  bill                                                                    
provided  funding  for  schools   to  reach  the  25megabits                                                                    
through the School Broadband Assistance Grant                                                                                   
Ms.  Parady discussed  her involvement  in bringing  forward                                                                    
the  first  broadband assistance  grant  in  2015, when  she                                                                    
worked on the  North Slope. She noted that  it was unlikely,                                                                    
given  the states   current  financial  situation, that  the                                                                    
state  would be  entirely connected  all at  once, but  that                                                                    
taking small connectivity steps was the way forward.                                                                            
Ms.  Parady  recounted  that the  original  grant  had  been                                                                    
focused on  all schools, setting  the floor for  all schools                                                                    
at  10megabits per  second. She  said that  the position  of                                                                    
educators  across was  state  was  that increased  broadband                                                                    
should be of the highest priority.                                                                                              
9:48:41 AM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Parady  relayed the detailed position  of Alaskan school                                                                    
leaders from  across the state.  She noted that  the funding                                                                    
would leverage federal dollars  for broadband expansion. She                                                                    
stressed that technology was a  core services that should be                                                                    
provided  to Alaskan  students.  She believed  the bill  was                                                                    
timely  and  would  provide equity  with  connectivity.  She                                                                    
reiterated the 9  to 1 E-Rate federal match.  She hoped that                                                                    
the bill would be passed  in the current legislative session                                                                    
so that grant recipient applicants  could apply for the next                                                                    
school year.  She stressed  that all  schools, no  matter of                                                                    
their   geography,   should   have   equitable   access   to                                                                    
educational opportunities. She urged  strong support for the                                                                    
9:52:34 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Micciche  was interested in the  potential to reduce                                                                    
education  costs  across  the  state. He  asked  Ms.  Parady                                                                    
whether she  considered that there  would be an  offset that                                                                    
equaled the investment in the long term.                                                                                        
Ms. Parady  thought an investment in  education reaped great                                                                    
rewards.  She thought  students were  being denied  the full                                                                    
range of available  professional learning opportunities. She                                                                    
used the example of an  Advanced Placement chemistry teacher                                                                    
that would not otherwise be available in rural Alaska.                                                                          
Ms.   Parady  continued   to   address  Senator   Micciche's                                                                    
question. She  thought there was  an opportunity  to enhance                                                                    
learning  throughout the  state  by extending  the reach  of                                                                    
educators  through  technology.  She   could  not  speak  to                                                                    
savings  justifying the  expense but  stressed that  greater                                                                    
access would be granted to  student across the state through                                                                    
district collaboration.                                                                                                         
9:55:05 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Wielechowski asked  whether there  was research  on                                                                    
how increased screen time  affected educational outcomes for                                                                    
K-12 students.                                                                                                                  
Ms. Parady thought there was  a body of research. She agreed                                                                    
to provide the information later.                                                                                               
9:55:34 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  von  Imhof  noted  there  were  other  individuals                                                                    
available to  provide invited testimony.  She asked  to hear                                                                    
from  the  Department  of Education  and  Early  Development                                                                    
(DEED). She asked the department  to address why the schools                                                                    
on its list had been selected.                                                                                                  
9:56:18 AM                                                                                                                    
PATIENCE FREDERICKSEN,  DIRECTOR OF LIBRARIES,  ARCHIVES AND                                                                    
MUSEUMS,  DEPARTMENT  OF  EDUCATION AND  EARLY  DEVELOPMENT,                                                                    
noted that  the state  library administered the  BAG grants.                                                                    
The  program  started  as  a  $5  million  program  and  had                                                                    
decreased to a  $1.5 million program. The  highest number of                                                                    
schools  that  needed  assistance  was at  135,  during  the                                                                    
second year  of the  program, that  number had  decreased to                                                                    
80.  She  thought that  the  decrease  was because  of  more                                                                    
robust  internet in  certain schools  that could  afford the                                                                    
expansion without state assistance.                                                                                             
Ms. Fredericksen addressed a new  fiscal note from DEED. She                                                                    
explained that  the note reflected  $7.1 million for  FY 20.                                                                    
She  highlighted   that  the  number  came   in  lower  when                                                                    
subtracting the $1.5 million in the current program.                                                                            
9:59:51 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Bishop noted  that the fiscal note went  down in the                                                                    
out years.                                                                                                                      
10:00:14 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator  Wilson  wondered how  many  schools  per year  were                                                                    
served by the program.                                                                                                          
Ms.  Fredericksen  anticipated  that 172  schools  would  be                                                                    
eligible as of March 2019. She  said that the second year of                                                                    
the program would  see the most schools, and as  the cost of                                                                    
internet decreased  in the villages, a  reduction in schools                                                                    
would be seen. She said that  in 2015, the average award was                                                                    
$29,000,  per school,  for internet  support. She  said that                                                                    
that number fell  to $17,000 by the end of  the program, the                                                                    
decrease in  the cost of  the internet was expected  to fall                                                                    
in the same pattern in the future.                                                                                              
10:01:31 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair von Imhof thought there  was 174 schools across the                                                                    
state that had 25megabits or  less. She asked how many years                                                                    
it would take to get the 172 schools brought up to speed.                                                                       
Ms. Fredericksen  stated that if  the infrastructure  was in                                                                    
place at the location of  the school, the school could reach                                                                    
25megabits   within   the    first   year,   if   additional                                                                    
infrastructure had to be added  the process could take up to                                                                    
two years.                                                                                                                      
Co-Chair von Imhof asked how  the routers and infrastructure                                                                    
would be funded.                                                                                                                
Ms.  Fredericksen  stated  that school  districts  paid  for                                                                    
those things in the previous version of the program.                                                                            
10:03:01 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Micciche  understood that the $7,169.4  reflected on                                                                    
the fiscal note was to  replace the 10megabit program, which                                                                    
was  a difference  of $5,681.9  after  the $1,487.5  already                                                                    
included in the governors FY 19 budget.                                                                                         
Ms. Fredericksen answered in the affirmative.                                                                                   
10:03:54 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair von Imhof OPENED public testimony.                                                                                     
DAN WALKER, SUPERINTENDENT,  LOWER KUSKOKWIM SCHOOL DISTRICT                                                                    
(via teleconference),  testified in support of  the bill. He                                                                    
thanked the  committee for its consideration.  He noted that                                                                    
LKSD was  the largest  Regional Educational  Attendance Area                                                                    
(REAA) in the state with 27  schools, 22 of the schools were                                                                    
in  remote villages,  and approximately  4,100. The  poverty                                                                    
rate was a  little over 90 percent. He had  been involved in                                                                    
education in  LKSD for over  27 years. He  strongly believed                                                                    
access to broadband internet levelled  the playing field for                                                                    
rural  students. He  said that  LKSD viewed  broadband as  a                                                                    
critical teaching tool for engaging  students in the digital                                                                    
age.  He said  that in  rural schools  it was  impossible to                                                                    
provide a  highly qualified teacher  in every  subject area.                                                                    
He  said that  the  district currently  operated 5  teaching                                                                    
studios, offering 15 classes ranging  from social studies to                                                                    
dual credit  college courses. He lamented  that the district                                                                    
was woefully short  of the FCC target range  of 1megabit per                                                                    
student and  was currently at  less than 10 percent  at that                                                                    
recommended  bandwidth. He  stressed the  critical need  for                                                                    
increased broadband in his district.                                                                                            
10:08:04 AM                                                                                                                   
BRETT  AGENBROAD, SUPERINTENDENT,  PRIBILOF SCHOOL  DISTRICT                                                                    
(via teleconference),  testified in support of  the bill. He                                                                    
noted that  the Pribilof  Islands were  not only  rural, but                                                                    
remote.  He stated  that for  the past  six years  there had                                                                    
been a  different math  and science  teacher each  year. The                                                                    
turnover had  been detrimental to students.  He detailed the                                                                    
struggles  that accompanied  the 10megabits.  He noted  that                                                                    
information  went  out  at 10megabits  per  second  but  was                                                                    
received at only 2.5megabits per  second.  The largest class                                                                    
in the district  was 20 students. He noted  that the weather                                                                    
was  another  contributing  factor in  internet  efficiency.                                                                    
When  the  weather was  harsh  it  could drop  the  internet                                                                    
connection by 50 percent.                                                                                                       
10:11:55 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr. Agenbroad stressed that  reliable broadband was critical                                                                    
to the education of students in his district.                                                                                   
10:12:43 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator   Micciche  asked   whether   equitable  access   to                                                                    
educational   materials  increased   student  interest   and                                                                    
graduation rates. He queried whether it was worth the cost.                                                                     
Mr. Agenbroad  thought that the  access better  prepared the                                                                    
students  for  the future.  Having  a  coherent tracking  to                                                                    
students from  year to  year was  beneficial. He  listed the                                                                    
myriad  of  ways  people in  the  community  were  utilizing                                                                    
internet learning.                                                                                                              
10:14:20 AM                                                                                                                   
SAM  JORDAN, SELF,  JUNEAU  (via  teleconference), spoke  in                                                                    
support  of  the bill.  He  thought  schools in  Alaska  had                                                                    
embraced  the  internet  as  a  great  tool  for  delivering                                                                    
education  to  students  and  professional  development  for                                                                    
staff,  as well  as communication  and coordination  between                                                                    
school districts.  Additionally, he thought many  schools in                                                                    
the  state  had been  able  to  keep pace  with  educational                                                                    
opportunities. He thought much  of the software developed in                                                                    
recent  years  was  cloud-based  and  the  bill  would  help                                                                    
schools to keep pace  with increasing technological demands.                                                                    
He thought  it was  important to support  the infrastructure                                                                    
in  order to  offer equitable  educational opportunities  to                                                                    
all students in the state.                                                                                                      
10:16:56 AM                                                                                                                   
JOHN CONWELL,  SUPERINTENDENT UNALASKA CITY  SCHOOL DISTRICT                                                                    
(via  teleconference), testified  in  support  of the  bill.                                                                    
His district  had participated  in the  broadband assistance                                                                    
program  since  its   inception.   He  said  that  with  the                                                                    
program's assistance the  school had been able  to grow from                                                                    
a  3megabit  connection  to   a  20megabit  connection.  The                                                                    
20megabit  connection  was   shared,  through  a  consortium                                                                    
agreement,  between  two  schools (425  students),  and  the                                                                    
local public  library. With the current  internet speed, the                                                                    
school  district was  still unable  to offer  students basic                                                                    
access  to the  digital educational  content commonplace  in                                                                    
other parts  of the state and  the Lower 48. The  school did                                                                    
not have the capacity  to offer online assessments; Unalaska                                                                    
was one  of eight  Alaska school district  that administered                                                                    
the  Performance Evaluation  of  Alaskas   (PEAKS) test  via                                                                    
paper and pencil, due to  bandwidth limitations. He stressed                                                                    
that  the increased  broadband  support  provided under  the                                                                    
bill would give  hundreds of students and  teacher access to                                                                    
the  educational content  and services  offered through  the                                                                    
internet.  He thanked  the sponsor  and  co-sponsors of  the                                                                    
bill for closing the digital gap for students in the state.                                                                     
10:18:58 AM                                                                                                                   
PATRICK MAYER, SUPERINTENDENT,  YAKUTAT SCHOOL DISTRICT (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke in  strong support  of the  bill. He                                                                    
believed  that  all students  in  Alaska  deserved the  full                                                                    
transformative  power of  technology  and  access to  online                                                                    
resources. He relayed  that digital content made  up a large                                                                    
portion of  the districts   basic curriculum. He  noted that                                                                    
technology  was  not  presented  as  a  measure  to  replace                                                                    
teachers, rather extending the reach  of goo teachers to all                                                                    
students. He  said that  the lack of  fiber optic  access in                                                                    
Yakutat limited  the ability to  stream content  and utilize                                                                    
digital  content. He  said that  the district  was regularly                                                                    
forced  to  pick and  choose  what  could be  simultaneously                                                                    
participate in, without saturating  bandwidth. He added that                                                                    
the limitations  also hampered  students  ability  to enroll                                                                    
and participate  in dual  credit opportunities.  He lamented                                                                    
that  this was  the  case  for many  schools  in Alaska.  He                                                                    
stated  that  while  student  skill  deficiencies  could  be                                                                    
identified, quality online  intervention opportunities could                                                                    
not  be  accessed. He  reiterated  that  the ACSA  stood  in                                                                    
support of continuing the grant  and increasing the level of                                                                    
state funded bandwidth to 25megabits per second.                                                                                
10:21:39 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair von Imhof CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                     
10:21:53 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Wilson  referenced the  FY2019 Alaska  Schools Under                                                                    
25 MBPS  (copy  on file) and asked whether  the schools that                                                                    
were not listed were already above 25megabits per second.                                                                       
Ms. Fredericksen answered in the affirmative.                                                                                   
Senator  Wilson asked  whether the  agency followed  up with                                                                    
school districts that did not complete an application.                                                                          
Ms.  Fredericksen stated  that  there was  one  school in  a                                                                    
district that  did not accept  an award. She said  she could                                                                    
not  speak to  why  individual schools  would  not apply  to                                                                    
receive funding.                                                                                                                
10:24:23 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator  Olson reminded  the committee  that schools  in his                                                                    
district  were  spread far  and  wide.  He found  it  highly                                                                    
unlikely that that  there were schools in  his district that                                                                    
did not need additional funding for broadband.                                                                                  
10:24:45 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair  Stedman  wondered   about  Port  Alexander,  which                                                                    
showed 3 megabits per minute.                                                                                                   
Ms.  Fredericksen agreed  to provide  more information.  She                                                                    
explained  that  sometime  schools self-selected  a  smaller                                                                    
amount of speed at a lower cost.                                                                                                
10:26:16 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair von  Imhof thought it  was important  to understand                                                                    
the  program  was an  annual  program  to address  operating                                                                    
costs rather  than infrastructure.  She thought it  might be                                                                    
nice to see  a list of schools with a  map overlaid on where                                                                    
broadband fiber optic cable had  been laid in the state. She                                                                    
wondered about a long-term plan.                                                                                                
Ms. Fredericksen stated that the  FCC list that she had used                                                                    
to develop the  list of 172 schools, listed  how each school                                                                    
received   their  internet.   She   agreed   to  relay   the                                                                    
information to the committee.                                                                                                   
Co-Chair von Imhof  assumed that those on  fiber optic cable                                                                    
would exceed 25megabits.                                                                                                        
10:28:28 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator  Olson asked  why  a school  would  not request  the                                                                    
maximum amount of internet connectivity available.                                                                              
Ms.  Fredericksen  thought that  local  funding  could be  a                                                                    
challenge for some schools.                                                                                                     
10:28:57 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Wilson  understood that superintendents  changed. He                                                                    
asked  whether  the program  could  be  applied for  yearly;                                                                    
would there be another opportunity for schools to apply.                                                                        
Ms.  Fredericksen  stated that  as  an  annual program,  the                                                                    
notice was sent  to all superintendents, if  they missed out                                                                    
on the first  year of the program, they could  apply for the                                                                    
second year of the program.                                                                                                     
Co-Chair von  Imhof understood that the  application process                                                                    
occurred annually.                                                                                                              
Ms.  Frederickson answered  in  the  affirmative. She  noted                                                                    
that  the process  was not  onerous and  included: an  Excel                                                                    
Spreadsheet  that  listed   costs,  certification  from  the                                                                    
superintendent,  and cost  documentation  from the  internet                                                                    
Co-Chair von  Imhof thought that  if the goal was  for every                                                                    
district to maintain 25megabits,  but must reapply annually,                                                                    
it might  be better to  bring schools  up to speed  and keep                                                                    
them there for  the long term. She realized that  this was a                                                                    
lofty goal.                                                                                                                     
Ms.  Fredericksen  asked to  clarify  the  fiscal note.  She                                                                    
spoke to the narrative on page 2 of the fiscal note:                                                                            
     The estimated  total cost to  bring the 172  schools up                                                                    
     from 10  mbps to 25  mbps will be  $7,135.4. Currently,                                                                    
     under  AS  14.03.127,  $1,487.5   is  included  in  the                                                                    
     Governor's FY2020  Amended Budget  request to  fund the                                                                    
     current  requirement of  up  to  10bmps. This  $1,487.5                                                                    
     will need  to be  funded in  all of  the out  years, in                                                                    
     order to  pay for 0-10mbps internet coverage  in tandum                                                                  
     with  current fiscal  note  that covers  10-25mbps. The                                                                  
     entire program will continue as  one application for up                                                                    
     to  25mbps.  This  fiscal note  assumes  that  internet                                                                    
     costs  will rise  proportionately  from 10  mbps to  25                                                                    
     mbps.  It  also  accepts  that the  FY2019  School  BAG                                                                    
     program numbers  are an accurate predictor  of what the                                                                    
     FY2020 School BAG program will need at 25 mbps.                                                                            
10:32:08 AM                                                                                                                   
SB  74  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
Co-Chair von  Imhof reviewed the schedule  for the following                                                                    
10:32:36 AM                                                                                                                   
The meeting was adjourned at 10:32 a.m.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 10 Sponsor Statement.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 4/9/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 10
SB 10 Letters of Support.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 Supporting Document SSPC Annual Report 2017.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 Supporting Document SSPC Five-Year Prevention Plan.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 Supporting Document SSPC Legislative Audit Report.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 Supporting Document SSPC White Paper.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_Oppose.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_Research_DistrictsUnder25 cited.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_Research_DistrictsUnder25.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_Research_FCCBroadbandSpeed Guide.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_Research_FCCHouseholdBroadbandGuide.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_Research_SchoolBAG_FY19_DEED.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_Research_SchoolBAGByDistrict_FY15_FY19_DEED.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_SectionalAnalysis_VersionS.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_SponsorStatement_VersionS.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_SummaryofChanges_VersionM_S.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB0074B_InternetBroadband_Support.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB 66 Amendment #2 Backup Wielechowski.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 66
SB 66 Amendment #1 Bishop.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 66
SB 66 Amendment #2 Wielechowski.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 66
SB 10 SPC FY 18 EOY report-July 18 2018.pdf SFIN 4/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 10