Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/12/1993 02:23 PM 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 April 12, 1993 2:23 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 MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Judy Salo COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 145 "An Act establishing the position of state medical examiner; and relating to preparation of death certificates." SENATE BILL NO. 180 "An Act relating to reimbursement of school construction debt; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 181 "An Act relating to grants for school construction; and providing for an effective date." SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 30 Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska creating a school construction and maintenance fund. SENATE BILL NO. 59 "An Act relating to school construction grants and major maintenance grants to school districts; providing for school district participation in the cost of school construction and major maintenance; creating a major maintenance grant fund; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 60 "An Act making appropriations for construction and major maintenance of schools; and providing for an effective date." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 145 - See State Affairs minutes dated 4/5/93 and 4/7/93. SB 180 - No previous action to record. SB 181 - No previous action to record. SJR 30 - No previous action to record. SB 59 - See HESS minutes dated 2/3/93, 2/10/93. SB 60 - See HESS minutes dated 2/3/93, 2/10/93. WITNESS REGISTER Dr. Peter Nakamura, Director Division of Public Health Department of Health & Social Services P.O. Box 110610 Juneau, AK 99811-0610 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 145 Bob Poe, Staff to Senator Drue Pearce State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on SB 180, SB 181 and SJR 30 Duane Guiley, Director School Finance Department of Education 801 W. 10th St., Suite 200 Juneau, AK 99801-1894 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on SB 180, SB 181, SB 59 and SB 60 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-34, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN RIEGER called the Senate Health, Education and Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 2:23 p.m. and introduced SB 145 (POSITION OF STATE MEDICAL EXAMINER) as the first order of business. DR. PETER NAKAMURA, Director, Division of Public Health, Department of Health and Social Services, explained that SB 145 would allow the state to establish a medical examiner system. Currently, the state assumes the costs of post mortem examinations for deaths that are unattended. Approximately 53 percent of the funds go towards paying for the post mortem physician cost, 33 percent of the expenses go towards the mortuary service cost, and approximately 14 percent goes towards travel. For the past several years the program has been underfunded, and the department has had to request supplemental funding up to an amount of $350,000 to pick up these services when the funding was short and the demand was high. Dr. Nakamura said that by establishing a medical examiner system in the state, the department hopes to contain their costs in the future. The medical examiner will be able to perform from 125 to 150 autopsies by himself, however, they will continue to buy additional autopsy services from the existing pathologists in the state. Dr. Nakamura also said the department believes it can eliminate a fair number of examinations that they are now doing by having someone who is employed by the state overseeing the program. Currently, the Department of Health and Social Services just pays the bills and has no ability to control the costs, and it is hoped to have the medical examiner system located in their department. Number 075 CHAIRMAN RIEGER stated SB 145 would be held until later in the meeting when a quorum was established. Number 078 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced SB 180 (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION DEBT REIMBURSEMENT), SB 181 (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION GRANTS) and SJR 30 (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION & MAINTENANCE FUND) as the next order of business. BOB POE, staff to Senator Drue Pearce, Co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said the three pieces of legislation comprise a complete package of an approach to deal with the problems of school construction, school repair and school maintenance in the state. SB 180 reestablishes reimbursement of school construction debt and provides for an effective date. It accomplishes some key things in terms of reimbursement of debt that have not been seen in the past. It changes the portion that the state would pay of any debt to 70 percent. Also, it establishes a debt limit for how much debt a community could incur. Further, it places a sunset on the bill of March 31, 1997. SB 181 relates to grants for school construction, and there are some key changes to the way school construction projects are identified right now. It sets a grant review committee, and the committee is designed to make sure that people knowledgeable about construction and facility management are involved in reviewing school construction projects to assure that they are a cost-effective reasonable solution to the problem that the school project is trying to address. It also advises the committee that they shall evaluate each grant request based on five factors. The bill further provides that there shall be four basic types of school designs to assure that the school infrastructure that is built through state dollars around the state is uniform in its quality, that it guarantees an equivalent kind of facility for any student in the state. Number 198 SENATOR LEMAN directed attention to a letter he received from an Anchorage engineer suggesting an amendment to Section 4, which relates to the four basic school designs, that he believes goes directly to the point of the intent of the legislation, but is less onerous than the existing wording. Number 212 CHAIRMAN RIEGER referred to page 3, line 2 of SB 181, which speaks to the factors that the grant review committee must evaluate. He said the last time a list like that was put in statute it was interpreted to mean that all of number one would have to be satisfied before they commenced with number two. He said he does not think that was the sponsor's intent, and suggested that it should be reworded. BOB POE agreed that was not the sponsor's intent. Number 230 DUANE GUILEY, Department of Education, stated that the department has reviewed the two bills and has worked together with the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities in developing the fiscal note and analyzing the legislation. The department has some concerns about the bills in that some specific portions are not clear to them as to what the intent is. Mr. Guiley said in establishing the cap in SB 180 on how much debt a community can incur, the department reads the cap as to apply to other nonreimbursed debt. He referred to language on page 4, line 5, which sets the limit based upon population size, and he pointed out that some of the smallest communities in the state are, in fact, the wealthiest communities in the state in relation to ability to pay, and they have the lowest limit of debt in this language. In Section 3 of SB 180, which requires the department to evaluate the projects, the department has some concern as to whether or not that evaluation would be concurrent with the existing process evaluation, or if this would establish a separate evaluation. Turning to SB 181 and the establishing of a grant review committee, Mr. Guiley said the department has concern as to whether or not they can find members of this background in the state that do not, in fact, have a conflict of interest in that they are not participating contractors for school districts that would be scheduled to be applying for projects, as well as whether or not the individuals would serve on the committee at no compensation. Addressing the prototypical type of school design required in the legislation, the department looked at grant projects that have been recently awarded by the state and the architectural fees associated with those projects, as well as the need for schools of varying sizes at all three levels, and they arrived at a fiscal note in excess of $30 million. Number 267 CHAIRMAN RIEGER questioned the architectural fees if what is being called for in the bill is generic projects rather than custom projects. DUANE GUILEY answered that it is the department's understanding that these would be more or less generic projects within the different regions of the state, but also, within those different regions, there would be facilities of varying sizes. SENATOR LEMAN commented that there are some things that can't be done generically and they have to be unique for where that building is located. He said there is going to be a certain amount of design that is going to have to be custom for any specific site. Number 297 CHAIRMAN RIEGER brought SB 59 (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION & MAINTENANCE GRANTS) and SB 60 (APPROP:SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION GRANT FUND) before the committee. He directed attention to a draft CSSB 59(HES) which makes two major changes. The first change limits the maximum matching grant that could be required for a district to 30 percent. For REAA's the maximum match is 3.8 percent. The second change is that it suspends these grant provisions for appropriations made in calendar year 1993. Addressing SB 60, CHAIRMAN RIEGER said the bill, as introduced by the Governor, had $150 million appropriated from the earnings reserve account. He said it was his intention to create a work draft which does not appropriate that amount from the earnings reserve account, but appropriates it from the general fund and leaves the source of funding question up to the Senate Finance Committee. Also, allocate that $150 million to each area of the state at the rate of $7.5 million per Senate district, totaling $150 million. SENATOR ELLIS asked if there had been any discussions with the Governor on these suggested changes, and he raised concern of a possible veto by the Governor whereby school projects would go by the wayside. CHAIRMAN RIEGER responded that he wants to have all of the possible modes of getting school construction funded up to the Finance Committee as soon as possible so they can make the final decision. As he perceives it, there are two basic approaches: one is a debt reimbursement and the other is a straight grant approach. He doesn't think it is really within the purview of the HESS Committee to decide which way to finance the schools, but rather a Finance Committee decision. Number 404 DUANE GUILEY, Department of Education, said in discussing the capital legislation with the commissioner, the state board and representatives from the Governor's office, one of the primary goals of all parties concerned was establishing a local match for projects, so it is something that is important to all parties concerned in relation to this bill. Also, the Governor's office has expressed a desire to have a multi- year plan. CHAIRMAN RIEGER stated SB 59 and SB 60 would be held over until the following day at which time they would be back before the committee along with SB 180, SB 181 and SJR 30. Number 425 CHAIRMAN RIEGER brought SB 145 back before the committee and asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR MILLER moved that SB 145, along with the accompanying fiscal notes, be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. SENATOR LEMAN commented that he wasn't convinced that this approach would save any costs and that it will probably add another two people to the state payroll when the existing contracting system in place right now works fairly well. There being no further business to come before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 2:57 p.m.