Legislature(2021 - 2022)SENATE FINANCE 532

03/17/2021 01:00 PM FINANCE

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Audio Topic
01:01:10 PM Start
01:02:33 PM SB49 || SB50 || SB51
01:02:33 PM Public Testimony: Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage, and Matanuska Valley
02:37:27 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Please Note:
All Public Testimony Conducted via Telephone
Juneau (907) 586-9085
Anchorage (907) 563-9085
Elsewhere (844) 586-9085
Written Testimony Will Be Accepted at:
finance.committee@akleg.gov
For Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage, & Matanuska
Valley: Call In/Sign Up by 2:30 p.m.
+= SB 49 APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+= SB 51 APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+= SB 50 APPROP: CAP; REAPPROP; SUPP; AMEND TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                 SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      March 17, 2021                                                                                            
                         1:01 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:01:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stedman   called  the  Senate   Finance  Committee                                                                    
meeting to order at 1:01 p.m.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Click Bishop, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Bert Stedman, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Natasha von Imhof                                                                                                       
Senator Bill Wielechowski (via teleconference)                                                                                  
Senator David Wilson (via teleconference)                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Cris  Eichenlaub, Self,  Wasilla; Mary  Jo Torgeson,  Alaska                                                                    
Library Association  and Alaska Library  Network, Anchorage;                                                                    
Philip Licht,  Set Free Alaska, Wasilla;  Shannon Davenport,                                                                    
Alaska Nursing Association,  Anchorage; Michelle Reiman, Set                                                                    
Free  Alaska,  Wasilla;  Jenni Pollard,  Thread,  Anchorage;                                                                    
Suzy Pearson,  Executive Director, Abused Women  Aid Crisis,                                                                    
Anchorage; Gregory  Heath, Self,  Palmer; Alli  Lythgoe, Set                                                                    
Free  Alaska,  Matsu Valley;  Steve  Ray,  Set Free  Alaska,                                                                    
Wasilla; Linda  Hendrickson, Set  Free Alaska,  Wasilla; Ric                                                                    
Nelson,  Arc of  Anchorage,  Anchorage; Ryan  Ray, Set  Free                                                                    
Alaska,  Palmer; Katie  Rooks, Self,  Prince of  Wales; Adam                                                                    
Cardwell,  Self,  Willow;  Abbe  Hensley,  Best  Beginnings,                                                                    
Anchorage; Robin  Minard, Matsu Health  Foundation, Wasilla;                                                                    
Roger  Branson,  Self,  Eagle  River;  Willy  Keppel,  Self,                                                                    
Quinhagak; Bert Houghtaling, Self,  Big Lake; Gary McDonald,                                                                    
Self, Anchorage.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SB 49     APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
          SB 49 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
          consideration.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SB 50     APPROP: CAP; REAPPROP; SUPP; AMEND                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
          SB 50 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
          consideration.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SB 51     APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
          SB 51 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
          consideration.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 49                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     loan  program  expenses  of state  government  and  for                                                                    
     certain   programs;    capitalizing   funds;   amending                                                                    
     appropriations;    making   reappropriations;    making                                                                    
     supplemental   appropriations;  making   appropriations                                                                    
     under art.  IX, sec.  17(c), Constitution of  the State                                                                    
     of  Alaska,  from  the  constitutional  budget  reserve                                                                    
     fund; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 50                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act   making  appropriations,   including  capital                                                                    
     appropriations,     reappropriations,     and     other                                                                    
     appropriations;  making   supplemental  appropriations;                                                                    
     making   appropriations   to  capitalize   funds;   and                                                                    
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 51                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     capital    expenses   of    the   state's    integrated                                                                    
     comprehensive    mental    health    program;    making                                                                    
     supplemental  appropriations;  and   providing  for  an                                                                    
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:02:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
^PUBLIC   TESTIMONY:   KENAI   PENINSULA,   ANCHORAGE,   AND                                                                  
MATANUSKA VALLEY                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:02:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CRIS EICHENLAUB,  SELF, WASILLA (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in support of  the statutory formula for  the Permanent Fund                                                                    
Dividend  (PFD). felt  that the  current budget  issues were                                                                    
due  to  mismanagement  of resources.  He  felt  that  there                                                                    
needed  to be  a repeal  of  former legislation,  SB 26.  He                                                                    
stated that the PFD should  be taken out of the legislators'                                                                    
purview.  He  felt  that  the people  should  be  given  the                                                                    
authority  to determine  who should  receive the  money from                                                                    
the PFD.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:04:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARY  JO TORGESON,  ALASKA  LIBRARY  ASSOCIATION AND  ALASKA                                                                    
LIBRARY  NETWORK, ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
support  of  funding for  the  Alaska  State Libraries.  She                                                                    
understood that  it was  a challenging  time, but  the money                                                                    
would be  used for the  Alaska Library Catalog, which  was a                                                                    
consortium  of 90  percent of  the public  libraries in  the                                                                    
state. She stressed  that it was a very  large database, and                                                                    
the budget  amount was  in the  previous year's  budget, but                                                                    
the governor had vetoed that funding.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:07:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PHILIP    LICHT,    SET    FREE   ALASKA,    WASILLA    (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified in  support of  funding for  the                                                                    
Alaska  Recidivism,  Reduction,  and  Recovery  Project.  He                                                                    
stated  that  request  had been  submitted  to  the  capital                                                                    
budget. He  thanked the committee for  their previous years'                                                                    
support.  He noted  that  the  goal of  the  program was  to                                                                    
develop a pilot  that would work toward  reducing new crimes                                                                    
and recidivism,  and help  people to  get sober  and improve                                                                    
their quality of life.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:09:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHANNON  DAVENPORT,  ALASKA NURSING  ASSOCIATION,  ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via  teleconference),  testified  in support  of  increased                                                                    
funding  in   the  Alaska  Mental  Health   Trust  Authority                                                                    
(AMHTA).  She spoke  to some  issues related  to the  Alaska                                                                    
Psychiatric Institute (API). She  talked about continuity of                                                                    
care, as it  related to patients returning  to the community                                                                    
and  the  limited resources  available.  She  felt that  the                                                                    
budget  needed  greater  funding  for those  in  the  mental                                                                    
health community. She echoed similar concerns of Mr. Licht.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:11:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHELLE   REIMAN,    SET   FREE   ALASKA,    WASILLA   (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified in  support of  funding for  the                                                                    
Alaska  Recidivism,  Reduction,  and Recovery  Project.  She                                                                    
shared  that she  had dealt  with addiction  and had  worked                                                                    
with people  in recovery.  She stressed that  stable housing                                                                    
was essential for sobriety and reducing recidivism.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:13:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JENNI  POLLARD,  THREAD,   ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke in  support of funding for  early childhood education.                                                                    
She  stated that  the proposed  budget included  funding for                                                                    
early childhood resources and benefits.  She felt that every                                                                    
dollar invested in children helped  them to prepare for life                                                                    
and school. She urged  the committee to designate additional                                                                    
resources toward early childhood programs and support.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  von Imhof  noted that  there were  funds for  early                                                                    
education in the budget.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:14:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUZY PEARSON,  EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ABUSED WOMEN  AID CRISIS,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),  testified in  support  of                                                                    
funding  for the  Council on  Domestic  Violence and  Sexual                                                                    
Assault;   Alaska  Housing   Finance  Corporation   (AHFC)'s                                                                    
Homeless   Assistance   Program;  and   Empowering   Choices                                                                    
Program.  She felt  that the  programs  helped victims  move                                                                    
from shelters to permanent housing.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:16:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GREGORY HEATH, SELF,  PALMER (via teleconference), testified                                                                    
in support of funding  for the Alaska Recidivism, Reduction,                                                                    
and Recovery  Project. He  shared that he  was a  judge, and                                                                    
had adjudicated  thousands of  criminal probation  and child                                                                    
in of  aid need  cases. He  stated that  in the  majority of                                                                    
criminal  cases  the  lack   of  available  substance  abuse                                                                    
treatment and safe, sober, and  supervised housing were keys                                                                    
to rehabilitation for  formerly incarcerated individuals. He                                                                    
stated  that most  of  the barriers  were  addressed by  the                                                                    
project.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:19:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ALLI   LYTHGOE,  SET   FREE   ALASKA,   MATSU  VALLEY   (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified in  support of  funding for  the                                                                    
Alaska  Recidivism,  Reduction,  and Recovery  Project.  She                                                                    
felt that there was great  benefit and success to a recovery                                                                    
project  in the  state.  She stressed  that  she had  worked                                                                    
directly  with a  multi-disciplinary recovery  focused team.                                                                    
She  pointed  out  that  the   needs  stretched  far  beyond                                                                    
treatment,  and required  establishing  solid  roots in  the                                                                    
community.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:21:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEVE RAY,  SET FREE  ALASKA, WASILLA  (via teleconference),                                                                    
testified in  support of funding for  the Alaska Recidivism,                                                                    
Reduction,  and  Recovery Project.  He  shared  that he  had                                                                    
spent  time in  residential  recovery, and  had worked  with                                                                    
inmates in prison.  He stated that he had seen  the need for                                                                    
men  who immediately  return  to  their previous  situations                                                                    
after prison,  and either reoffend  or abuse  substances. He                                                                    
felt   that   the   program   would   help   those   leaving                                                                    
incarceration  to  be a  part  of  the community  and  their                                                                    
families.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:24:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LINDA   HENDRICKSON,   SET   FREE   ALASKA,   WASILLA   (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified in  support of  funding for  the                                                                    
Alaska  Recidivism,  Reduction,  and Recovery  Project.  She                                                                    
remarked that  it was  apparent that  the need  for recovery                                                                    
services were great and substantial.  She noted the need for                                                                    
certified   peer   support,   intensive   case   management,                                                                    
supportive  housing,  access  to  treatment  in  the  prison                                                                    
system,   outpatient   services,   school   counseling   for                                                                    
children, and inpatient service.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:26:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RIC    NELSON,   ARC    OF    ANCHORAGE,   ANCHORAGE    (via                                                                    
teleconference),  (spoke  with   an  interpreter)  spoke  in                                                                    
support of funding  for the sprinkler system for  the Arc of                                                                    
Anchorage, which assists  individuals with developmental and                                                                    
intellectual disabilities  as well as behavioral  health. He                                                                    
requested $150,000  for two of the  behavioral health homes.                                                                    
He also requested $330,000  for non-behavioral health homes,                                                                    
or  $30,000  for each  of  the  eleven  homes. The  City  of                                                                    
Anchorage recently  released a mandate, which  said that all                                                                    
group and assisted living homes  must have sprinkler systems                                                                    
installed with more than three individuals in each home.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator von Imhof stated that  Co-Chair Bishop would look at                                                                    
that issue in the budget.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:30:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RYAN  RAY, SET  FREE  ALASKA,  PALMER (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified in  support of funding for  the Alaska Recidivism,                                                                    
Reduction, and  Recovery Project. He stressed  that the mass                                                                    
incarceration  of individuals  with addiction  disorders was                                                                    
devastating for  public health and safety.  He stressed that                                                                    
the  challenge was  especially  evident  in Alaska,  because                                                                    
over   80  percent   of  Alaska's   incarcerated  population                                                                    
reported  an addiction  disorder. He  pointed out  that upon                                                                    
release  from  incarceration,  those individuals  were  more                                                                    
than 129  times more likely to  die of a drug  overdose, and                                                                    
of those who are not deceased,  83 percent were likely to be                                                                    
arrested again in their lifetime.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:33:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATIE  ROOKS, SELF,  PRINCE OF  WALES (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke  in support  of the  proposed gasoline  tax. She  also                                                                    
spoke  against  an income  tax.  She  supported measures  to                                                                    
reduce  certain  state  spending and  measures  designed  to                                                                    
encourage and support diverse forms of state revenue.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:34:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADAM  CARDWELL,  SELF,  WILLOW (via  teleconference),  spoke                                                                    
against  the  use  of  money  set  aside  for  the  PFD  for                                                                    
government  and   Native  Corporations.  He   stressed  that                                                                    
Alaskans  needed  the  PFD  money to  pay  for  things  like                                                                    
heating fuel and other necessities.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:36:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ABBE    HENSLEY,    BEST    BEGINNINGS,    ANCHORAGE    (via                                                                    
teleconference),  echoed statements  from  Ms. Pollard.  She                                                                    
testified  in   support  of  funding  for   early  childhood                                                                    
education,  and Best  Beginnings. She  shared many  positive                                                                    
impacts   of  Best   Beginnings  Imagination   Library.  She                                                                    
remarked that  there was a  recent study of  the Imagination                                                                    
Library  in  the  state,  and  the  results  were  extremely                                                                    
positive.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:39:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBIN   MINARD,  MATSU   HEALTH  FOUNDATION,   WASILLA  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified  against  the proposed  cuts  to                                                                    
Medicaid.  She stressed  that the  cuts would  have negative                                                                    
impacts on  Matsu residents. She remarked  that Medicaid was                                                                    
vital to  keeping Alaskans healthy  and working,  because it                                                                    
provide access  to many different  health services  to serve                                                                    
as a path to self-sufficiency.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:41:50 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:59:47 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:00:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROGER  BRANSON,  SELF,  EAGLE  RIVER  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified in support  of funding to assist  the homeless and                                                                    
funding  for  substance  abuse recovery.  He  spoke  against                                                                    
transferring the AMHTA funds. He  recalled the court case to                                                                    
establish the AMHTA.  He spoke against the  reopening of the                                                                    
settlement.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:01:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WILLY  KEPPEL, SELF,  QUINHAGAK (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in concern  about the current  budget deficit. He  felt that                                                                    
the  budget  should  focus  on the  debt.  He  testified  in                                                                    
support of  funding backpay  for the  PFD. He  stressed that                                                                    
Alaskans were  in need of  the money because there  had been                                                                    
great economic damage to the people of the state.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:05:26 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:20:18 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:20:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BERT  HOUGHTALING,  SELF,  BIG  LAKE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified  against  the  use  of   the  PFD  to  fund  state                                                                    
government.  He  felt  that the  budget  should  align  with                                                                    
current state  revenue. He stressed  that Alaskans  needed a                                                                    
full PFD  to support those  that had been devastated  by the                                                                    
pandemic.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:22:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GARY MCDONALD, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), echoed                                                                    
the comments  of Mr. Keppel  and Mr. Haoughtaling.  He spoke                                                                    
in support  of audits  of many  programs, and  spoke against                                                                    
funding for nonprofits.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:23:16 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:36:23 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman discussed the following day's schedule.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SB  49  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SB  50  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SB  51  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
2:37:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 2:37 p.m.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

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