Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/22/1993 01:33 PM Senate HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                         March 22, 1993                                        
                            1:33 p.m.                                          
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
  Senator Steve Rieger, Chairman                                               
  Senator Bert Sharp, Vice-Chairman                                            
  Senator Loren Leman                                                          
  Senator Jim Duncan                                                           
  Senator Johnny Ellis                                                         
  Senator Judy Salo                                                            
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
  Senator Mike Miller                                                          
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
  SENATE BILL NO. 70                                                           
  "An  Act  establishing a  loan  guarantee and  interest rate                 
  subsidy program for assistive technology."                                   
  HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 7                                            
  Relating to Alcohol-Related Birth Defects Awareness Week.                    
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
  SB 70 - See HESS minutes dated 3/22/93.                                      
  HCR 7 - See HESS minutes dated 3/22/93.                                      
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
  Gary Roth, President                                                         
  Denali State Bank - Fairbanks                                                
  119 North Cushman                                                            
  Fairbanks, Alaska 99701                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 70.                          
  Carolyn Morris, Administrative Coordinator                                   
  Governor's Committee on Employment of                                        
    People With Disabilities                                                   
  3301 Eagle, #203                                                             
  Anchorage, Alaska 99503                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 70.                          
  Stan Ridgeway, Deputy Director                                               
  Vocational Rehabilitation                                                    
  Department of Education                                                      
  801 West Tenth Street, Suite 200                                             
  Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 70.                          
  Lynne Koral                                                                  
  Southeast Alaska Independent Living                                          
  8800 Glacier Highway, Suite 236                                              
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 70.                          
  Pat Jackson, Legislative Staff                                               
    to Representative Irene Nicholia                                           
  Alaska State Legislature                                                     
  State Capitol Building                                                       
  Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Gave sponsor statement for HCR 7.                       
  Suzanne Perry                                                                
  Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse                                        
  Department of Health and Social Services                                     
  P.O. Box 110607                                                              
  Juneau, Alaska 99811-0607                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HCR 7.                          
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
  TAPE 93-29, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN  RIEGER called  the  Senate  Health, Education  and                 
  Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 1:33 p.m.                       
  The first order of business  was SB 70 (ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY                 
  LOAN  GUARANTEES).    SENATOR  DUNCAN,  sponsor  of  SB  70,                 
  explained the bill would  establish the assistive technology                 
  loan guarantee  program to assist  people with disabilities.                 
  Equipment   would  be   purchased   to  enhance   employment                 
  possibilities  and  independent   living  for  people   with                 
  Number 028                                                                   
  GARY  ROTH,  President,  Denali  State  Bank  -   Fairbanks,                 
  testified in support of SB 70 and its companion bill HB 139.                 
  He asked the legislature to approve the program.  As  a long                 
  time banker  and past  president of  the Fairbanks  Resource                 
  Agency,  he  feels  that  the  loan guarantee  and  interest                 
  subsidy  program  will assist  many  of the  handicapped and                 
  developmentally disabled  people to lead a  productive life.                 
  Mr. Roth  said the amount  of pride and  well being  that is                 
  displayed  by  these  people  when  they can  contribute  to                 
  society, rather than being a ward of society, is tremendous.                 
  Many of these people have  completed training programs which                 
  have given them the necessary  skills to become independent.                 
  Unfortunately,  because   of  their  past   disabilities  or                 
  handicaps, they have been unable to  establish credit of any                 
  kind.   SB 70 will  assist financial institutions  in making                 
  credit available  to them.   Additionally,  the families  of                 
  some of the disabled people may  have had undue hardships in                 
  supporting  this  family member  and  this  may have  had  a                 
  derogatory effect on  their credit.  With  proper counseling                 
  and direction of  the agency or  department, funds could  be                 
  made available  through the  guarantee program  for personal                 
  computers, home workshops, handicapped  accessible vehicles,                 
  and other adaptive or  assistive devices.  The  program will                 
  also  enable financial  institutions to  extend  longer loan                 
  terms  over what normally would be considered a maximum term                 
  allowable for personal  loans.  Mr.  Roth noted the term  is                 
  usually no  longer than eighteen  months.  He  explained the                 
  interest subsidy may or  may not always be necessary.   This                 
  will depend on the individual circumstances of each case  in                 
  that it will have  an effect in  the amount of the  proposed                 
  monthly installments on any given loan.  He said it may mean                 
  the difference  between  qualifying under  the  bank's  debt                 
  income  ratios  for  such  credits.    Mr.  Roth  urged  the                 
  legislation be passed.                                                       
  Number 083                                                                   
  CAROLYN  MORRIS,   Administrative  Coordinator,   Governor's                 
  Committee  on   Employment  of  People   With  Disabilities,                 
  testified in support of SB 70.  She said there are important                 
  things that assistive technology can  do for individuals who                 
  experience  disabilities.     She  explained   that  through                 
  Assistive   Technologies  of  Alaska  and  the  Division  of                 
  Vocational Rehabilitation, there is  an assistive technology                 
  loan program so that individuals  can come and try different                 
  types of adaptive equipment  to see what will work  for them                 
  before  they  make  an  investment  in  actually  purchasing                 
  something for themselves.   With the passage of the  bill as                 
  well as the assistance of the agencies, this goes a long way                 
  for a lot of people in Alaska.                                               
  Number 113                                                                   
  STAN RIDGEWAY, Deputy  Director, Vocational  Rehabilitation,                 
  Department of Education, said the department supports SB 70.                 
  There are approximately  4,000 Alaskans who  are in need  of                 
  technology  to  assist  them  with  work, play,  and  living                 
  independently.  Many of the people qualify for technology in                 
  some way through various agency's insurance.   He noted some                 
  private individuals also help pay for devices.  Mr. Ridgeway                 
  explained  the  loan  subsidy   and  guarantee  will  enable                 
  individuals  to have the ability to  get a loan so that they                 
  can purchase  the devices  themselves.   He referred  to the                 
  fiscal note and said it shows that Assistive Technologies of                 
  Alaska, through their  federal funding,  has requested  $100                 
  thousand of seed money  for the loan program.   Mr. Ridgeway                 
  said by using the subsidy, guarantee, and the $100 thousand,                 
  it  could  possibly leverage  about  $750 thousand  from the                 
  banking industry for loans.                                                  
  SENATOR LEMAN referred  to the  seed money and  asked if  he                 
  meant that the  money can  be used to  leverage other  money                 
  from private lenders  or if there is going  to be an ongoing                 
  requirement for the program to request money from the state.                 
  MR. RIDGEWAY  said it is his understanding that other states                 
  that have similar programs have  an excellent repayment rate                 
  and there have  been very few defaults.   He said it  is his                 
  understanding the $100 thousand of  initial seed money would                 
  probably  be the only money that would be needed to keep the                 
  loan program going, even with the buy down interest rates.                   
  CHAIRMAN  RIEGER  said  he  assumes  that  it would  be  the                 
  Division of  Vocational Rehabilitation  who would  determine                 
  whether it could do a guarantee or an interest buy down.  He                 
  asked Mr. Ridgeway if the  division has a draft plan  of how                 
  this  would  be  implemented.   MR.  RIDGEWAY  explained the                 
  Division of Vocational Rehabilitation oversees the Assistive                 
  Technology Program which is a federal grant program that has                 
  a five year  life span.   Their staff has been  working with                 
  some of their consumer committees to establish the plan.  He                 
  said he thinks that what the Assistive Technology Program is                 
  really interested  in doing  is putting  together a  package                 
  that would  assist the bank  that is helping  the individual                 
  apply for a loan, to determine if there is another source or                 
  place to obtain equipment without applying for a loan.                       
  CHAIRMAN RIEGER  asked Mr.  Roth how the  interest buy  down                 
  would work.  He said if the rate  you want to get to is, for                 
  example, 5  percent, how  would the  Division of  Vocational                 
  Rehabilitation and a bank work out whether it is a 9 percent                 
  loan that is bought  down to 5 percent or a  13 percent loan                 
  bought down to 5 percent.  MR. ROTH said it would have to be                 
  established through negotiations.  He  said he doesn't think                 
  that the banks would want to get  involved in the program if                 
  they  were  going to  make  it  part of  their  high earning                 
  portfolio.    He said  they want  to  assist the  people and                 
  assumes   that  they  would  try   to  arrive  at  a  normal                 
  competitive rate.   He  noted that  today's market  rate for                 
  consumer lending is between 7.5 percent and 10.5 percent.                    
  Number 222                                                                   
  LYNNE  KORAL,  employed  by   Southeast  Alaska  Independent                 
  Living, explained she is a consumer of services.  She showed                 
  committee members a  talking clock and indicated it  is part                 
  of  her organization's  lending  library that  is  currently                 
  being developed.  She showed  committee members a small item                 
  called `Braille and  Speak' which is  a computer that has  a                 
  memory  computer chip.    Ms.  Koral  referred to  the  loan                 
  guarantee  fund  and   said  it   would  help  people   with                 
  disabilities to be  able to purchase and  maintain or attain                 
  employment.  She  informed the committee that  she purchased                 
  an  IBM compatible  computer,  at a  cost  of $1,300,  which                 
  speaks to her.  Ms. Koral urged the committee to pass SB 70.                 
  SENATOR LEMAN  asked Ms.  Koral how  much the talking  clock                 
  cost.   Ms. Koral indicated the  cost is about $20.  Senator                 
  Leman  asked how much  it costs to  train a seeing  eye dog.                 
  Ms. Koral said  approximately $25  thousand.  She  explained                 
  that most dogs are trained with private foundation donations                 
  and donations from concerned citizens.                                       
  MS. MORRIS asked if  a parameter has been established  as to                 
  what  might  be the  minimum  or  maximum loan  that  may be                 
  obtained.   MR. RIDGEWAY  said he isn't  sure of how  much a                 
  person may borrow  but said initially $10  thousand had been                 
  mentioned.   SENATOR  DUNCAN  said  the legislation  doesn't                 
  specify a specific amount.  It would be up to the department                 
  to  help  determine  an amount  depending  on  what  type of                 
  equipment will be purchased.   He noted page 2 sets  out the                 
  term  of  the loan.   Mr.  Ridgeway  noted a  fully equipped                 
  accessible van for a person who  uses a wheelchair would run                 
  from  $30 thousand to  $40 thousand.   He  noted that  a big                 
  factor is the person's  ability to repay a loan  which would                 
  also govern how large the loan can be.                                       
  CHAIRMAN RIEGER  said before  the  bill goes  to the  Senate                 
  Finance Committee he would like a letter from the department                 
  saying  what the parameters of the  loan will be and how the                 
  department will determine  whether they will do  a guarantee                 
  or an interest buy down, and what the guidelines are.                        
  Number 332                                                                   
  There being no  further testimony,  SENATOR DUNCAN moved  to                 
  pass SB 70 out of the  Senate HESS Committee with individual                 
  recommendations.  Hearing no objection, the motion carried.                  
  Number 336                                                                   
  The  next order of business was HCR 7 (ALCOHOL-RELATED BIRTH                 
  DEFECTS   AWARENESS   WEEK),  sponsored   by  Representative                 
  Nicholia.  PAT JACKSON,  legislative staff to Representative                 
  Irene Nicholia, said many years  have been spent working  on                 
  the issues  of alcohol-related  birth defects.   Legislation                 
  has  been  passed  that  required  school districts  do  in-                 
  service.  The Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse has made                 
  treatment  to  pregnant  women  a  priority.    There  is  a                 
  treatment program in Anchorage for  pregnant women and there                 
  are  Fetal  Alcohol Syndrome  (FAS)  awareness groups.   Ms.                 
  Jackson  indicated that  in  the committee  member's packets                 
  there is a  1989 study which shows the  economic impact of a                 
  FAS child.   She indicated the lifetime cost for a FAS child                 
  is  $1.4 million.   The study  didn't include  estimates for                 
  physical problems  such as facial problems, kidney problems,                 
  dental  work,  etc.   The  Center  for Disease  Control  has                 
  completed a study giving new estimates of the rate of FAS in                 
  Alaska at 2.1 to  6.6 children per every 1,000.  Ms. Jackson                 
  urged support for HCR 7.                                                     
  SENATOR LEMAN  indicated support  for the  resolution as  it                 
  draws more attention to FAS.                                                 
  SUZANNE  PERRY,  Division  of  Alcoholism  and  Drug  Abuse,                 
  Department of  Health and Social  Services, said she  is the                 
  former FAS coordinator  for the division.   She pointed  out                 
  that FAS was  officially identified by the  American Medical                 
  Society  in  1973.   She said  there  are still  doctors who                 
  encourage pregnant women to have a  drink or two as it  will                 
  relax them.  She said there must be three criteria to have a                 
  diagnosis  of  FAS  and if  any  one  of  those criteria  is                 
  missing, then the  diagnosis, if any,  may be Fetal  Alcohol                 
  Effect (FAE).   One  criteria is  retarded  growth prior  to                 
  birth and after birth.   She said there are  specific facial                 
  features and showed  the committee  some photos.   There  is                 
  always  central nervous  system  involvement, most  commonly                 
  mental  retardation.    Ms.  Perry  continued  to  show  the                 
  committee  pictures,  from  the  University  of  Washington,                 
  relating to FAS and discussed problems and physical features                 
  of  FAS  children.    Ms.  Perry  said once  a  woman  quits                 
  drinking, she can't  have a child  with FAS in a  subsequent                 
  pregnancy.  She  discussed treatment  centers for women  who                 
  drink such a Reflections which is  a twelve bed women's only                 
  treatment  facility  in  Anchorage.    Dena Acoy,  which  is                 
  jointly  funded  with  the  Indian  Health Service  and  the                 
  Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, is an 18 bed facility                 
  where women can  stay throughout their entire  pregnancy and                 
  up to six  weeks postpartum.   Ms. Perry  said she  believes                 
  that FAS is like  drunk driving.  Until society  shares some                 
  of  the  responsibility, we  will  continue to  have serious                 
  CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked Ms.  Perry what she can  confirm about                 
  health professionals  advising  that  moderate  drinking  is                 
  alright during pregnancy.  MS. PERRY said she has not talked                 
  to a doctor  that says  that, but she  has heard  statements                 
  from women that have seen their  doctors within the last two                 
  years who  have been told that  a couple glasses of  wine or                 
  beer will  relax you.   The  Center of  Disease Control,  in                 
  cooperation   with  the  Department  of  Health  and  Social                 
  Services, is running a five year  program in Anchorage to do                 
  surveillance to find  out what  the real rates  for FAS  are                 
  throughout  the state.    Part of  the project  is  to do  a                 
  knowledge, attitudes, and  behavior survey for pediatricians                 
  and obstetricians.                                                           
  Chairman Rieger indicated  he had a proposed  amendment that                 
  the resolution be  sent to the  Board of Nursing, the  State                 
  Medical  Boards,  and  the Board  of  Certified Direct-Entry                 
  Midwives.   He moved Amendment  #1.  SENATOR  SALO suggested                 
  including the Board of Nurse Practitioners.  Chairman Rieger                 
  referred to the Alaska Statutes and said he  doesn't believe                 
  there  is  a Board  of  Nurse  Practitioners  but there  are                 
  definitions  of   a  "nurse   practitioner."    Hearing   no                 
  objection, to Amendment #1, the motion carried.                              
  Number 577                                                                   
  Senator Salo  moved to  pass HCR  7 out  of the  Senate HESS                 
  Committee  with  a  `Do Pass'  recommendation.    Hearing no                 
  objection, it was so ordered.                                                
  There being no  further business to  come before the  Senate                 
  HESS  Committee, Chairman  Rieger  adjourned the  meeting at                 
  2:20 p.m.                                                                    

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