Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/15/1993 01:43 PM Senate HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE March 15, 1993 1:43 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Steve Rieger, Chairman Senator Bert Sharp, Vice-Chairman Senator Loren Leman Senator Mike Miller Senator Jim Duncan Senator Johnny Ellis Senator Judy Salo MEMBERS ABSENT All Present COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 2 Urging the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend the oxygenated fuels program in Anchorage, Alaska. SENATE BILL NO. 101 "An Act relating to eligibility for and payments of public assistance; and providing for an effective date." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SR 2 - No previous action to record. SB 101 - See HESS minutes dated 3/10/93 and 3/12/93. WITNESS REGISTER Senator Dave Donley Alaska State Legislature State Capitol Building Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SR 2. Robert Gigler Oxy Busters 7447 O'Brien Street Anchorage, Alaska 99507 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SR 2. Mike O'Callaghan 1540 Medfra Anchorage, Alaska 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SR 2. Len Verrelli Air Quality Management Section Department of Environmental Conservation 410 Willoughby Avenue Juneau, Alaska 99801-1795 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SR 2. Jan Hansen, Director Division of Public Assistance Department of Health and Social Services P.O. Box 110640 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0640 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered question on SB 101. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-24, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN RIEGER called the Senate Health, Education and Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 1:43 p.m. The first order of business was SR 2 (SUSPEND OXYGENATED FUELS PROGRAM), sponsored by Senator Donley. SENATOR DONLEY said SR 2 was introduced by recommendation of the Division of Health, Section of Epidemiology, Department of Health and Social Services. They requested that the oxygenated fuel program, in Anchorage, be suspended based on their research into the matter and the amount of complaints they have received relating to health consequences linked to the breathing of the oxygenated fuel. Senator Donley said he has received an overwhelming amount of public opinion messages, letters, and phone calls from Anchorage residents calling for the suspension of the program. He noted that the governor worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend the program in Fairbanks area. Approximately 18,000 signatures have been gathered on petitions in opposition. Senator Stevens has announced that he'll be seeking federal legislation to exempt Alaska from having to use oxygenated fuel. Senator Donley said the resolution calls for the suspension of the mandated use of oxygenated fuels until it is proven to be safe. CHAIRMAN RIEGER discussed an article he saw in Forbes Magazine which spoke to methods of monitoring for pollution. Number 060 SENATOR LEMAN said he recently read an article that in Fairbanks some blood samples indicated trace levels of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). He asked Senator Donley if he is aware of any samples in Anchorage that have also exhibited trace levels of MTBE. Senator Donley said he isn't aware of any but indicated he would get in touch with the Epidemiology Section to see if they had conducted specific blood testing. Senator Donley said he recently received information from NCSL that pointed out a new higher technology of auto emission testing. He pointed out the resolution has a zero fiscal note. Number 096 ROBERT GIGLER, Oxy Busters, was first to testify on the measure from Anchorage. He urged that the resolution pass the Senate with a 20-0 vote. Mr. Gigler requested that the resolution also include Fairbanks. He referred to page 1, lines 13 and 14, and said he isn't aware of any studies on ambient air conducted in Anchorage between November 1, 1992 and March 1, 1993. MIKE O'CALLAGHAN, Oxy Busters, was next to testify on SR 2. He said 17,000 signatures were gathered in one month asking the governor to suspend Oxygenated Fuels Program. He explained his organization found three problems with the MTBE additive. There was a health problem, a mechanical problem, and an economic problem which the State of Alaska is presently investigating. The price increased 15 cents a gallon in Alaska, and in Denver it increased 3 cents a gallon and decreased gas milage by 15 percent. Mr. O'Callaghan discussed some information and statistics that he received from Bill Johnston, University of Alaska, discussing how bad MTBE is. Mr. O'Callaghan said he supports the resolution and noted it should be for all of Alaska. CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked Len Verrelli to come before the committee to answer some questions. SENATOR MILLER said the Fairbanks program was suspended on December 11. He asked how long the suspension would last. LEN VERRELLI, Air Quality Management Section, Department of Environmental Conservation, said the suspension concluded March 1st. Senator Miller noted the resolution calls for a suspension during the 1993-1994 winter. Senator Miller said he would like to offer an amendment where a second "Whereas" would be inserted under the first one. It would basically say the same thing as the first whereas clause except the words "December 23, 1992," would be replaced with "December 11, 1992." The word "Fairbanks" would replace the word "Anchorage." CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked if there was an objection to Amendment #1. Hearing no objection, the motion carried. Senator Miller indicated he had another amendment. On line 2, add the words "and Fairbanks" after "Anchorage." The same would be done to lines 8 and 9, and on page 2, lines 1 and 4. The word "program" would also be changed to "programs." Hearing no objection, the amendment was adopted. SENATOR LEMAN referred to page 2, line 1, and suggested replacing "program so that it is not resumed..." with "programs so that they are not resumed..." CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked if there was an objection to Amendment #3. Hearing none, the motion carried. MR. VERRELLI indicated that there is a zero fiscal note from the department. He referred to page 1, line 4, and said it would be more technically accurate to insert "preliminary findings of an epidemiology study..." He said the findings are preliminary findings. Mr. Verrelli also suggested replacing the word "concluded" on page 1, line 5, with "lead to the recommendation." SENATOR DONLEY indicated he didn't have an objection to Mr. Verrelli's suggested amendment. CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked Senator Leman to withdraw his motion. SENATOR LEMAN withdrew his motion. MR. VERRELLI referred to page 1, line 10 where the word "oxygenated" is used. He said it would be more technically correct to say "MTBE-blended oxygenates" as we are dealing with a whole realm of oxygenates. He suggested the same change in the title. Mr. Verrelli referred to page 2, line 1, and suggested that maybe a moratorium be put in place. The EPA doesn't have the authorization to suspend the program. He said the program is a Congressional mandated program in the Clean Air Act. He suggested petitioning the EPA to ask Congress for a moratorium. They can't suspend it. So the amendment would be on page 2, line 1, replace the word "suspend" with "request a moratorium from Congress for..." Mr. Verrelli referred to page 2, line 5 and said the bill calls Carol Browner a "Director" and she is actually the "Administrator." He suggested adding Mayors Fink and Sampson to the resolution on page 2, line 8, since they are deeply involved. SENATOR LEMAN reviewed his proposed amendment: Page 1, line 1, insert "MTBE" before the word "oxygenated." Page 1, line 4, insert "preliminary findings from" after the word "Whereas." Page 1, line 5, delete "concluded" and insert "lead to the recommendation." Page 1, line 10, insert "MTBE" before the word "oxygenated." Page 2, line 1, delete the word "suspend" and insert "request a moratorium from Congress for." Page 2, line 5 delete the "Director" and insert "Administrator." Page 2, line 8, include "Mayor Fink" and "Mayor Sampson." CHAIRMAN RIEGER said he has a couple of alterations. He asked if it is the recommendation of DEC that where there is reference to the oxygenated fuel program that the correct wording should be "MTBE-blended oxygenates program." MR. VERRELLI said "blended" doesn't have to be included. Chairman Rieger noted the amendment regarding requesting a moratorium should also be inserted in the title in place of the word "suspend." Number 391 SENATOR LEMAN moved his amendment. Hearing no objection, the motion carried. Senator Leman moved to pass SR 2, as amended, from the Senate HESS Committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, the bill was passed out of committee. Number 401 The next order of business to come before the Senate HESS Committee was SB 101 (ELIGIBILITY FOR PUBLIC ASSISTANCE). CHAIRMAN RIEGER stated that at the last meeting on SB 101, the bill was held awaiting some proposed amendments from Senator Ellis. SENATOR ELLIS said he has four amendments. He referred to the bill representing seven cuts in a single year and said there is no idea of what the combined affects will be on the clients and the state's services. Senator Ellis said seven cuts in a single year seems like too much to him. It would be much wiser to phase the cuts in. This year state employees will get their cost of living increase as will as others who are entitled to them. Senator Ellis said there seems to be money for less essential things such as elk transplants, custom cars, etc. Senator Ellis moved that Amendment #1 be adopted. Amendment Page 1, line 13, after "plus": Insert "$105 for" Page 1, line 14: Delete "$98 for" Page 2, line 3: Delete "$792" Insert "$845" Page 2, line 6: Delete "$98" Insert "$105" Page 2, line 9: Delete "$497" Insert "$530" Page 2, line 19: Delete "(1)" Page 2, line 20: Delete ";or" Page 2, line 21: Delete "(2) took effect on or before January 1, 1993" Page 3, line 8: Delete "1" Page 3, lines 9 - 10: Delete ";or (2) took effect in the calendar years that began on January 1, 1991, January 1, 1992, and January 1, 1993" Page 3, lines 13 - 22: Delete all material. Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 4, line 4: Delete "10" Insert "9" Page 4, line 8: Delete "8" Insert "7" Page 4, line 9: Delete "1 - 7" Insert "1 - 6" He explained that the amendment denies the cost of living increase but restores the current payment levels meaning no rateable reduction. SENATOR MILLER objected. SENATOR DUNCAN stated he would support Senator Ellis' amendment although he doesn't want to impose any reductions. Number 429 A roll call vote was taken on Amendment #1. Senators Rieger, Sharp, Leman, and Miller voted against the amendment. Senators Duncan, Ellis, and Salo voted in favor the amendment. So the Amendment #1 failed to be adopted. SENATOR ELLIS moved that Amendment #2 be adopted. He said the amendment restores the cost of living increase, but keeps the rateable reduction. The check amounts will be cut $78 a month for a woman and her two children under AFDC, but would include the COLA. Amendment #2 follows: Page 2, lines 12 - 21: Delete all material. Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 2, line 26, through page 3, line 12: Delete all material. Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 3, line 22: Delete "took" Insert "take" Delete "1994" Insert "1993" Page 4, line 4: Delete "10" Insert "8" Page 4, line 8: Delete "8" Insert "6" Page 4, line 9: Delete "1 - 7" Insert "1 - 5" SENATOR LEMAN objected to the motion. CHAIRMAN RIEGER said he doesn't understand how you can have a rateable reduction but still keep the cost of living increase. He asked what it will do to this year's fiscal impact. JAN HANSEN, Director, Division of Public Assistance, Department of Health and Social Services, explained that the AFDC rateable reduction produces a savings in FY 94 of $8.6 million. To include the COLA, the amount would be $2.1 million. The impact would be that there would still be the $8.6 million reduction, but the $2.1 million of proposed reductions would be added back into the budget. The impact would be that grants would be cut immediately by the rateable reduction, but then part of the that would be restored on January 1, 1994, when the COLA would be granted. A roll call vote was taken on the adoption of Amendment #2. Senators Rieger, Sharp, Leman, and Miller voted against the amendment. Senators Duncan, Ellis, and Salo voted in favor of the amendment. So the adoption of Amendment #2 failed. Number 490 SENATOR ELLIS moved that Amendment #3 be adopted. He explained that the amendment restores the COLA and proposes they take the rateable reduction back to the 1992 level for AFDC and APA instead of the 1991 level that is proposed in the bill. Amendment #3 follows: Page 1, line 13 after "plus": Insert "$102 for" Page 4, line 14: Delete "$98 for" Page 2, line 3: Delete "$792" Insert "$821" Page 2, line 6: Delete "$98" Insert "$102" Page 2, line 9: Delete "$497" Insert "$515" Page 2, lines 12 - 21: Delete all material Renumber the following bill sections accordingly. Page 2, line 26, through page 3, line 12: Delete all material. Page 3, line 17: Delete "1990" Insert "1992" Page 3, line 20: Delete "1990" Insert "1992" Page 3, line 22: Delete "took" Insert "take" Delete "1994" Insert "1993" Page 4, line 4: Delete "10" Insert "8" Page 4, line 8: Delete "8" Insert "6" Page 4, line 9: Delete "1 - 7" Insert "1 - 5" There was objection to the adoption of Amendment #3. MS. HANSEN said the amendment restores the COLA at $2.1 million and restores approximately $4 million of the rateable savings. A roll call vote was taken on Amendment #3. Senators Rieger, Sharp, Leman, and Miller voted against the amendment. Senators Duncan, Ellis, and Salo voted in favor of the amendment. So Amendment #3 failed to be adopted. Number 533 SENATOR ELLIS explained that Amendment #4 requires more notice than the department proposes to give. He said he is concerned about the housing market in his community. Especially in the smaller communities as it will be very difficult for the people who aren't in Section 8 housing. He noted that there is a three year waiting list for Section 8 housing. Amendment #4 proposes a 90 day notice be given so that people will have time to make other living arrangements, etc. Senator Ellis moved that Amendment #4 be adopted. Amendment #4 follows: Page 3, line 16: Delete "July 1, 1993" Insert "the effective date of this bill section" Page 3, line 17: Delete "After June 30, 1993," Insert "On and after the effective date of this bill section" Page 4, line 4: Delete "10" Insert "11" Page 4, lines 8 - 9: Delete all material. Insert new bill sections to read: "* Sec. 9. NOTIFICATION TO RECIPIENTS. The Department of Health and Social Services shall notify each household that is receiving assistance under AS 47.25.310 - 47.25.420 or 47.25.430 - 47.25.615 for the month of June 1993, what the changes will be for the household's assistance that will be caused by implementation of secs. 1 - 7 of this Act. "Sec. 10. Sections 8 - 9 of this Act take effect immediately under AS 01.10.070(c). "Sec. 11. Sections 1 - 7 of this Act take effect 90 days after all households covered by sec. 9 of this Act have been mailed the notice required under sec. 9 of this Act. The commissioner of health and social services shall promptly notify the revisor of statutes of the day by which all required notices under sec. 9 of this Act were mailed." SENATOR MILLER objected to the adoption of Amendment #4. SENATOR SALO said she thinks it is fair to give people notice as it might give people incentive to somehow try to improve their living style. MS. HANSEN said assuming that the changes would take effect October 1, which would be 90 days, then the reductions would be 25 percent less. So the $8.6 million AFDC rateable reduction would be about $6.5 million. The $4 million APA rateable reduction would be about $3 million, but there would be a $1 lessening. Ms. Hansen said there wouldn't be a impact on the COLA because that doesn't kick in until July 1, 1994. She said if Amendment #4 should pass as drafted, there is one word that creates an even more problematic change. She referred to section 9 of the proposed amendment. It says that the department shall notify each household that is receiving assistance for the month of June, 1993, as to what the changes will be. The next section says it will take effect after all households covered have been mailed the notice. Some households technically will not receive a benefit for the month of June until perhaps the month of September. Ms. Hansen said she hopes that the department isn't backlogged but, in fact they could be. TAPE 93-24, SIDE B Number 001 Ms. Hansen said it could be months before the department knows all of the households that would qualify for the month of June because of payments going back to the date of application. SENATOR ELLIS said he understands Ms. Hansen's point. He said he also understands that October is the lowest month in terms of the caseload. He asked if it would make sense to try and give notification or coverage in terms of families on assistance during the highest month. Senator Ellis said it seems like it would make sense to give out the notices as widely as possible. Alaska's welfare population is not like most other states as most people are off of welfare within two years. We don't have the huge long-term welfare lifestyle caseload. He said it would seem that we would want to give the greatest amount of notice possible as there are people who come on to welfare and there are people who work in the summers. He said there is a seasonality of the caseload. Ms. Hansen said there are larger caseloads in May or June than there is in October. She said there are hundreds of people going off of welfare each month and there are hundreds of people going on to welfare. SENATOR LEMAN referred to Ms. Hansen saying the COLA wouldn't kick in until July 1, 1994, and asked if she meant July 1, 1994 or if she meant January 1, 1994. Ms. Hansen said she meant January 1, 1994. SENATOR ELLIS asked Ms. Hansen if she has any suggested changes to make the bill more palatable. He said he thinks that the notice is very important. If June is the highest month, Senator Ellis said he would like the people to receive notice before they go do their summer fishing, etc. He noted that there are people who don't check their mail during the summer as they are at fish camp, etc. Ms. Hansen said the key would be that the notification of households who receive an assistance check "in the month of June" as opposed to "for the month of June" would allow notification of a large number of households and would not create the undue delay that she referenced earlier. CHAIRMAN RIEGER referred to testimony given by Ms. Hansen at the previous meeting where she stated that the department is planning to notify people prior to the effective date of the act. He said it would be hard to put something in the bill regarding notice because the department is planning to give notice before the bill is signed by the governor. Ms. Hansen said the intention is to provide notice to the clients when the bill has passed the legislature. Number 058 SENATOR DUNCAN referred to line 3, Section 9, of Amendment "in the month." CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked if there was an objection to the amendment to Amendment #4. Hearing no objection, the motion carried. SENATOR SHARP referred to Amendment #4 and said his understanding is that any reductions still wouldn't be effective until September at the earliest, but probably October 1. MS. HANSEN referred to households who would receive a benefit in June and said if the final notification was sent to those households by July 1, October 1 would be the earliest that the effective date could be implemented. SENATOR ELLIS said over the years he has heard complaints about people receiving their checks late. He asked if there is any liability if a person receives their check late and misses a payment for their rent, etc. Ms. Hansen said in terms of a fiscal liability, there isn't a penalty. She said there is an attempt to get checks mailed on time because the department is aware of the impact it could have on someone. There is not a financial penalty levied against the state if a check goes out late. Senator Ellis asked if the department blames complaints on the post office or if they admit it when checks are mailed late. Ms. Hansen said the majority of payments that go to clients late are because the clients submitted their monthly report late and the department isn't required to process their check by the first of the month. She noted that currently there are several hundreds of checks that go out late each month which are totally the responsibility and fault of the division due to under staffing. Senator Ellis asked if there will be any assistance for the people whose checks will be cut and they will have to move out of their currently housing. He also asked if there are statistics showing how many AFDC and APA clients are on Section 8 vouchers. Ms. Hansen said the information the department has is from the Alaska State Housing Authority where approximately 4,000 households, statewide, are on Section 8 housing. They estimate that one-half of the 4,000 are on public assistance. Ms. Hansen stated that there aren't any programs to pick up the fiscal impact. There being no further discussion on Amendment #4, a roll call vote was taken. Senators Rieger, Sharp, Leman, and Miller voted against the adoption of Amendment #4. Senators Duncan, Ellis, and Salo voted in favor of Amendment SENATOR ELLIS said there is supposed to be approximately $17 million of savings if the bill is passed. He said he has never agreed that there would be a savings to the state because of other repercussions. It would only take 1,700 public assistance recipients, funded through the Jobs Program to transition from welfare to work in the public or private sector, to equal what is being done with the reduction in benefits. He said he will continue to point out the hypocrisy of the legislature not making the necessary commitment to the Jobs Program in transitional benefits. Number 135 There being no further discussion, SENATOR MILLER moved to pass SB 101 out of the Senate HESS Committee with individual recommendations. MS. HANSEN indicated there is a small technical problem with the bill in Section 2 in which the wrong statute was referenced. It is located on page 2, line 12. "AS 47.24.320" should be "AS 47.25.320." Senator Miller asked to withdraw his motion to pass SB 101 out of committee. CHAIRMAN RIEGER moved and asked unanimous consent that on page 2, line 12, the reference to "AS 47.25.320" be changed to "AS 47.25.320." Hearing no objection, the motion carried. Number 154 SENATOR MILLER moved to pass SB 101, as amended, out of the Senate HESS Committee with individual recommendations. There was objection. A roll call vote was taken. Senators Rieger, Sharp, Leman, and Miller voted in favor of the motion. Senators Duncan, Ellis, and Salo were against the motion. So SB 101, as amended, was passed out of the Senate HESS Committee. There being no further business to come before the Senate HESS Committee, Chairman Rieger adjourned the meeting at 2:45 p.m.