Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/16/1993 04:15 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 16, 1993 4:15 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Steve Rieger, Chairman Senator Loren Leman Senator Mike Miller Senator Johnny Ellis Senator Judy Salo MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Bert Sharp, Vice-Chairman Senator Jim Duncan COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 92 "An Act relating to an advisory vote during regional educational attendance area school board elections; and providing for an effective date." HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 30 Relating to epidemiological and quarantine services in ports of entry in the state. HOUSE BILL NO. 148 "An Act exempting the University of Alaska from the administrative adjudication provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 143 "An Act reducing the rate of interest on certain student loans; and providing for an effective date." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 217(JUD) "An Act relating to Native corporation dividends and other distributions due to minors in the custody of a state." HOUSE BILL NO. 97 "An Act clarifying the responsibilities of the Department of Health and Social Services and parents for children who are committed to the custody of the department and are placed by the department with the parents; and providing for an effective date." HOUSE BILL NO. 178 "An Act adding children under the age of 21 who are eligible for adoption assistance because of special needs to the optional Medicaid coverage list and revising the order of priority in which groups eligible for optional Medicaid coverage are eliminated; and providing for an effective date." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 92 - See Community & Regional Affairs minutes dated 3/23/93. HJR 30 - See HESS minutes dated 4/14/93. HB 148 - No previous action to record. SB 143 - No previous action to record. HB 217 - No previous action to record. HB 97 - No previous action to record. HB 178 - No previous action to record. WITNESS REGISTER Senator Fred Zharoff State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime Sponsor of SB 92 Brain Saylor, Deputy Commissioner Department of Health & Social Services Nowlin Watson, Senior Vice President McClellen & Copenhagen POSITION STATEMENT: Presentation on AK public health laboratories Dwayne Peeples Division of Public Health Department of Health & Social Services P.O. Box 110610 Juneau, AK 99811-0610 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HJR 30 Representative Gene Therriault State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime Sponsor of HB 148 Susan Warner P.O. Box 21241 Juneau, AK 99802 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed to passage of HB 148 Joanna Loying-Belyea 5775 Thane Road Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed to passage of HB 148 Wendy Redman, Vice President for University Relations University of Alaska 910 Yukon Drive Fairbanks, AK 99775-2388 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports HB 148 Carol Carrol, Staff to Senator Jay Kerttula State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on SB 143 Mary Lou Madden, Assistant Director Postsecondary Commission Department of Education P.O. Box 110505 Juneau, AK 99811-0505 POSITION STATEMENT: Neutral on SB 143 Rena Buckovich, Staff to Representative Eileen MacLean State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on HB 217 Elmer Lindstrom, Special Assistant Department of Health & Social Services P.O. Box 110601 Juneau, AK 99811-0601 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 97 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-37, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN RIEGER called the Senate Health, Education and Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 4:15 p.m., and introduced SB 92 (REAA ADVISORY VOTES) as the first order of business. SENATOR FRED ZHAROFF, prime sponsor of SB 92, explained that the legislation allows a provision to be added to AS 14.08.071, which relates to REAA schools. At this time, there is no provision that allows an advisory vote for any issue that may come up before the school district on the ballot for election of school board members. SB 92 will provide an authorization in statute to allow the Division of Elections to place the question on the ballot before the election of school board members. Number 037 There being no further testimony on SB 92, CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR MILLER moved that SB 92 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 042 CHAIRMAN RIEGER announced the next order of business would be a presentation on public health laboratories. BRIAN SAYLOR, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Health and Social Services, said the health and safety of the state's public health laboratories have been of some question for a number of years. The issue has been repeatedly studied by outside experts, but they have not been able to pull together a comprehensive look at the public health laboratories. There are three laboratories in leased facilities that are located in Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage. The department is currently seeking options to protect public health, worker safety and the quality of the products they deliver. Number 075 NOWLIN WATSON, Senior Vice President of McClellen & Copenhagen, a laboratory design consulting firm, used charts and explained the functions of a public health laboratory and the process of bringing fresh air into the laboratory and then exhausting it outside. This is necessary to ensure worker safety because the people working in these laboratories are dealing with airborne pathogens that can make them sick. He pointed out that the public is also protected because the air is cleaned before it is exhausted out of the laboratory. Mr. Watson said their study concluded that the biggest problems in the State of Alaska are that the three state laboratories are in leased space and the public safety risk. Thus, they are recommending: (1) a detailed analysis which will lead to a strategic plan for the public health laboratories in the State of Alaska; and (2) new laboratories because the current leased spaces cannot be effectively and cost effectively renovated. Number 183 BRIAN SAYLOR related that the department has renovation and repair money in their FY 94 capital request, as well as a request for $500,000 for the study. However, they now believe that $350,000 to $400,000 is a better number and they would hope to use the balance of the $500,000 for the renovation or repair. CHAIRMAN RIEGER thanked Mr. Saylor and Mr. Watson for their presentation on the state's public health laboratories. Number 222 The next order of business to come before the committee, was HJR 30 (QUARANTINE SERVICES AT PORTS OF ENTRY). DWAYNE PEEPLES, Division of Public Health, Department of Health and Social Services, stated the division and the department support HJR 30, which urges the federal government to reinstate quarantine and to increase epidemiological staff in Alaska to look at influxes of diseases carried by travelers from the Russian Far East and other Pacific Rim countries. Number 230 SENATOR ELLIS asked when the federal government discontinued this operation in Alaska. DWAYNE PEEPLES responded they had one position in Alaska and it was discontinued in 1985. Number 238 SENATOR MILLER moved that HJR 30 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 247 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced HB 148 (EXEMPT U OF AK FROM APA PROCEDURES) as the next order of business. REPRESENTATIVE GENE THERRIAULT, prime sponsor of HB 148, said in June 1991, the Alaska Supreme Court found that the university was not specifically excluded from the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act until such time that the legislature specifically excluded them. When the university was placed under the Administrative Procedures Act in 1977, the intent was that the constitutional and statutory language would allow the regents to retain control of the internal workings of the university. However, the court in reaching its conclusion, did not consider the intent and ruled that the APA would apply unless the legislature gave a specific exemption to the university. Representative Therriault said the adjudication provisions of the APA were not designed for employee or student grievances. The majority of university grievances are resolved with little or no expense at an early stage of review. The procedure outlined in the APA would result in an extraordinary expense. HB 148 would exempt the university from the APA, and would allow the university to go back to the grievance procedure they had in place until 1977. Number 310 SUSAN WARNER and JOANNA LOVING-BELYEA, classified employees at the University of Alaska-Southeast, requested that HB 148 be removed from the table until a formally approved alternate grievance policy is in place, which it is not at this point in time, from the employee perspective. Number 317 SENATOR SALO said she shared their concern, and she asked how long they thought it would take to get an alternative plan in place. SUSAN WARNER responded that most of the employees have great confidence that the administration and the employees can work it out in a timely manner. She also pointed out that the university employees do not have a bargaining unit to represent them, and it is her understanding that the typical kinds of grievance procedures that are relevant to employees are generally evolved through negotiations between the administration and the bargaining unit representation. She said anything that can be done to stop the passage of this particular legislation until there is that agreement between the university administration and the university governance structure would be greatly appreciated. Number 352 WENDY REDMAN, Vice President, University of Alaska, said she understands the concerns voiced by Ms. Warner, but she thinks there are some misunderstandings. Ms. Redman said the university had in place a grievance procedure before the APA process was laid on it. It wasn't a perfect process, but the employee governance group worked for over a year and developed a new grievance procedure which was just about ready to be put in place, but was held in abeyance until they got a court ruling. Ms. Redman said if HB 148 passes, it would be their intention would be to take that last grievance policy and put that into place on an interim basis until the June board meeting. She added that the president of the university would be more than willing to commit to the employees the exact policy that will be put in place, pending final approval by the governance groups once the APA is passed, so that the employees know exactly what is going to be there and there is not a gap in coverage. Ms. Redman urged the passage of HB 148. Number 395 SENATOR SALO asked how many different grievance procedures would replace the Administrative Procedures Act. WENDY REDMAN answered that there is one grievance procedure, but there are different aspects to it. Number 430 SENATOR ELLIS asked if the Chair would entertain a motion that there be a letter of intent drafted to accompany the bill stating that it's the legislature's intent that there not be a gap time between when the bill passes and when an interim grievance procedure is put in place. CHAIRMAN RIEGER agreed and stated the bill would be set aside until later in the meeting so that a letter of intent could be drafted. Number 445 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced SB 143 (STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATE REDUCTION) as the next order of business. CAROL CARROL, staff to Senator Jay Kerttula, prime sponsor of SB 143, explained the legislation will reduce the interest rates on student loans from eight percent to six percent. The rate of interest on a loan in default would be reduced from ten percent to eight percent. She said Senator Kerttula feels that students of the State of Alaska should be able to take advantage of the reduction in interest rates that the nation is presently experiencing. Number 480 SENATOR MILLER questioned if this change would create more problems in the student loan program and, if so, why would we want to do that. CAROL CARROL responded that according to the projections of the bond council, when they use a growth rate of three percent for this loan fund, their assumption is that it will accelerate the time that the student loan corporation has to make a decision about whether to limit loans, so there won't be enough money for every student that applies. Because the state is no longer putting any money into the fund, that decision is going to have to be made anyway. She added that this would at least give the students the benefits of the lower interest rates. Number 500 MARY LOU MADDEN, Assistant Director, Postsecondary Commission, Department of Education, stated the commission does not have a position on SB 143, and they are, in fact, studying the whole question of the long-term viability of the loan program, particularly in the absence of general fund monies, and their reliance on the bond markets. Number 510 SENATOR LEMAN wondered if there wasn't a better way to do this instead of setting the interest rate at a fixed rate in statute. MARY LOU MADDEN said she thought there were other alternative ways of assuring that students get a break when the rate goes down, and, at the same time, assuring that there is money in the future. CHAIRMAN RIEGER said he was willing to let the bill move out of committee, but he has concern with anything that weakens the program. He added that he did not like it when the program was changed from being funded out of the general fund to relying on the bond markets. SENATOR ELLIS moved that SB 143 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 535 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced CSHB 217(JUD) (NATIVE CORPORATION DIVIDENDS TO MINORS) as the next order of business. RENA BUCKOVICH, staff to Representative Eileen MacLean, explained the purpose of HB 217 is to require Native corporation's under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA) to hold a minor's dividends in an interest bearing account while the minor is in state custody. The legislation was requested by the Department of Health and Social Services and the Native corporations to assure that stock dividends are protected and spent for the child's benefit while the child is in state custody. Besides requiring the corporation to set up interest bearing accounts for minors held in state custody, Ms. Buckovich said the bill also prohibits the corporation from using the property in the account unless approved by a court and specifies when corporations can distribute property. Further, it exempts the retention and distribution of dividends and distributions under the legislation from the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. Number 575 SENATOR MILLER moved that CSHB 217(JUD) be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 578 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced HB 97 (PARENTAL CARE FOR CHILD IN STATE CUSTODY) as the next order of business. ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant, Department of Health and Social Services, said the legislation was requested by department. In 1991, there was a court decision that reversed a lower court decision and ruled that the state must pay for the medical costs of a child in state custody even though the child lives with his or her parents. Holding the state responsible for medical costs of children in its custody who are placed at home would result in less protection for these children and other children in need of aid. The ramifications of this decision may also lead to the state being held liable for other routine maintenance costs of children, even to the extent of room and board for children who are technically in state custody, yet living with their parents. Mr. Lindstrom said it had never been the intent nor the practice of the Division of Family & Youth Services to pay those costs and HB 97 will clarify in statute what has been the regular practice of the division. TAPE 93-37, SIDE B Number 030 SENATOR LEMAN asked why the bill has a retroactive effective date. ELMER LINDSTROM answered that the effective date is an artifact of when the court ruling was made in the original case. He added there is a tremendous potential liability to the state if the bill does not pass, but he is not aware of any outstanding claims. Number 041 SENATOR MILLER moved that HB 97 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 045 CHAIRMAN RIEGER brought HB 178 (MEDICAID FOR CERTAIN CHILDREN) before the committee as the next order of business. He directed attention to a proposed HESS SCS. SENATOR ELLIS moved that SCS HB 178(HES) be adopted. Hearing no objection, the motion carried. SENATOR MILLER moved that SCS HB 178(HES) be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 055 CHAIRMAN MILLER brought HB 148 (EXEMPT U OF AK FROM APA PROCEDURES) back before the committee. SENATOR ELLIS read the following proposed intent language into the record: "It is the intent of the legislature that upon passage of HB 148 the university put into place the draft grievance procedure distributed to employees for review on March 22, 1993. It is the understanding of the legislature that this policy will be used as an interim procedure only until the University of Alaska general assembly and the Board of Regents formally and jointly agree to a successor grievance policy. It is further the intent of the legislature that the University of Alaska assembly and Board of Regents reach final approval of a successor grievance policy by June 15, 1993. SENATOR ELLIS moved adoption of the intent language to HB 148. SENATOR LEMAN objected and then withdrew his objection. There being no further objection, the Chair stated the Letter of Intent was adopted. SENATOR MILLER moved HB 148, along with the Letter of Intent, out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. There being no further business to come before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 5:10 p.m.