Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/02/1994 02:20 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 February 2, 1994 2:20 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Steve Rieger, Chairman Senator Bert Sharp, Vice-Chairman Senator Loren Leman Senator Mike Miller Senator Judy Salo MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Jim Duncan Senator Johnny Ellis COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 217 "An Act relating to land of the University of Alaska and authorizing the University of Alaska to select additional state public domain land." SENATE BILL NO. 225 "An Act relating to credits against certain insurance taxes for contributions to certain educational institutions; and providing for an effective date." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 79(FIN) am "An Act relating to recovery from a parent or legal guardian of wilful or malicious destruction of property by a minor." HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 37 Urging the Congress to enact H.R. 1033 or similar legislation authorizing construction grants for publicly-owned treatment works in economically distressed rural communities. SENATE BILL NO. 248 "An Act relating to services for and protection of vulnerable adults; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 249 "An Act relating to assisted living homes; repealing references to residential facilities for dependent adults; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 250 "An Act relating to the Older Alaskans Commission and staff of the commission; changing the name of the Older Alaskans Commission to the Alaska Commission on Aging and extending the termination date of the commission; relating to the Alaska Pioneers' Homes Advisory Board; relating to services and programs for older Alaskans; and providing for an effective date." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 217 - See Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated 1/26/94. SB 225 - No previous action to record. HB 79 - No previous action to record. HJR 37 - See Community & Regional Affairs minutes dated 1/11/94. SB 248 - No previous action to record. SB 249 - No previous action to record. SB 250 - No previous action to record. WITNESS REGISTER Senator Frank Prime Sponsor State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 217. Jack Chenoweth Legal Services Legislative Affairs Agency 130 Seward Street Juneau, Alaska 99801-2105 POSITION STATEMENT: Reviewed CSSB 217. Brian Rogers Vice-President of Finance University of Alaska 207 D Butrovich Bldg. University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska 99775 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 217. Senator Kerttula Prime Sponsor State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 225. Carol Carrol Staff to Senator Kerttula State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Reviewed SB 225. Representative Bunde Prime Sponsor State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Reviewed HB 79. Vincent Usera Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered to answer questions. George Bingham Superintendent of Claims State Farms, Southeast 3329 Park Place Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information. Roger McKowan Aide to Representative Hoffman State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Reviewed HJR 37. Keith Kelton Division Director Department of Environmental Conservation 410 Willoughby Ave. Suite 105 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1795 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information. Jenny Norris Volunteer, Alaska Environmental Lobby P.O. Box 22151 Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HJR 37. Sherrie Goll Kid Pac P.O. Box 22156 Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HJR 37. Nancy Usera Commissioner, Department of Administration P.O. Box 110200 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0200 POSITION STATEMENT: Reviewed SB 248, SB 249, SB 250. Donald Hoover Chairman, Older Alaskans Commission 1029 Kodiak Street Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 248, SB 249, SB 250. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 94-4, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN RIEGER called the Senate Health, Education and Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 2:20 p.m. Number 015 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced SB 217 (INCREASE LAND GRANT TO UNIV. OF F ALASKA) as the first order of business before the committee. SENATOR FRANK stated that Jack Chenoweth had a new committee substitute incorporating the previously discussed amendments. JACK CHENOWETH explained, as does his memorandum, the six changes incorporated in his committee substitute. SENATOR MILLER moved to adopt Chenoweth's 1/31/94 work draft of CSSB 217, letter J. Hearing no objections, it was so ordered. SENATOR LEMAN asked for further explanation of Chenoweth's changes to AS 14.40.365. MR. CHENOWETH directed Senator Leman to page 4 lines 14 - 20 and explained that his expansion of (a)(1) into (a)(1) - (3) and his new version of (a)(3) attempt to clarify the land selection issue. CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked what the reference to "other than" means. MR. CHENOWETH specified that there are many possessory interests and the five listed on page 4 line 14 are the only ones allowing the university selection; any other possessory interest or encumbrance not of the five listed cannot be selected by the university. Number 182 SENATOR MILLER moved CSSB 217 HES out of committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR LEMAN objected. SENATOR LEMAN stated that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has expressed their desire not to include oil and gas lease land to the university, but reserve it for the state. He did not know if this issue would hamper the bill. Senator Leman removed his objection. SENATOR FRANK acknowledged DNR's objection to include oil and gas land. He said they should be able to reach a compromise that is reasonable and can be worked on in Resources. SENATOR MILLER said that this issue is a policy call. He stated that at some point the university is a state agency. He pointed out that good lands should be available to the university for selection in order to provide income for the university and jobs in the community. BRIAN ROGERS, Vice-President of Finance for the University of Alaska system, stated support for SB 217 in its current form and is prepared to deal with the oil and gas issue in the next committee. CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked if there were any objections to the motion to move CSSB 217 out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objections, it was so ordered. Number 231 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced SB 225 (INSURANCE TAX CREDIT: GIFTS TO O COLLEGES) as the next bill before the committee. SENATOR KERTTULA, the prime sponsor, stated that he was prepared to answer questions, but preferred that Carol Carrol read his statement. CAROL CARROL, staff to Senator Kerttula, reviewed SB 225. SENATOR KERTTULA emphasized that private institutions provide a great deal of private support for education in this state which decreases the tax payers burden, therefore, continuing private support is in the best interest of everyone. He said that SB 225 is strongly pushed by the University of Alaska and the Alaska Pacific University. He does not see a downside to this legislation, particularly since insurance companies are not allowed to contribute more than fifty percent. Number 303 SENATOR LEMAN asked why there is no extension of support to K-12 as there is for higher education. SENATOR KERTTULA stated that he had not considered such for K-12 whether public or private. He explained that higher education's increasing tuition costs for out of state institutions were creating more responsibilities. He expressed the need to provide broad opportunities to Alaskan students. He pointed out the historic background in providing annuity programs for universities across the country. SENATOR RIEGER asked if the language located on the bottom of page 1 and the top of page 2 referring to a "qualified institution" is the same language describing institutions eligible for contribution under existing statutes. MR. CHENOWETH said yes. JACK CHENOWETH discussed the errors made in the statutes from the 1991 legislature which are also present in SB 225. He suggested correcting it in SB 225 by deleting the words "or by an Alaska university foundation" from the bottom of page 1 and the top of page 2 and move them behind "accredited by a regional accreditation association." This change would then speak to two or four year colleges accredited by a regional accreditation association or by an Alaska university foundation which was the original intent of the 1991 legislature. CHAIRMAN RIEGER expressed concern with the language used in the requirement for accreditation for the two or four year colleges. He asked if it would be the same as a foundation, which is on behalf of an Alaskan university. MR. CHENOWETH stated that he cannot find that foundations are accredited and that is not what the 1991 legislature intended. This can be written to the committee's desire with respect to this particular tax, but Mr. Chenoweth was offering the corrections for consistency with the publisher's corrections of the statutes. CHAIRMAN RIEGER requested that the change include a description of foundation which would link it to the institutions, which are the subject of the bill. This would make the foundations for the same purposes as the description of institutions. SENATOR KERTTULA agreed to clean-up the language for this bill. CHAIRMAN RIEGER held SB 225 until the committee meeting on Friday. Number 426 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced HB 79 (DAMAGE TO PROPERTY BY MINORS) (FIN) AM as the next order of business before the committee. REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE, representing District 18 and prime sponsor, reviewed HB 79 and the desire to increase the recovery from $5000 to $10,000. SENATOR SHARP clarified that the district court allows up to $50,000 in recovery. He posed an example to clarify how HB 79 would actually work. REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE stated that existing statute limits recovery to $2000, HB 79 would raise that limit to $5000. He expressed the need to raise the recovery to $10,000. He noted that a $2000 recovery for a $20,000 car is not much; furthermore, one is often not able to seek recovery from juveniles. There is runaway legislation to protect parents against financial obligation when the juvenile is delinquent. SENATOR MILLER asked if section 2 of HB 79 addresses the runaway issue. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE was concerned that the section may not carry strength of law in court. SENATOR SALO asked if section 2 addresses when the runaway has to be reported in order to eliminate the parents financial obligation, while disallowing retrospective claims. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said that investigators would deal with such issues. CHAIRMAN RIEGER pointed out that line 1 page 2 only eliminates parental obligation for acts of the minor after the runaway is reported. Number 500 SENATOR SALO requested clarification of the $50,000 liability limit for civil damages regarding HB 79. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE noted that a $5000 limit for juveniles was small in comparison to a $50,000 limit for adults. SENATOR LEMAN commented that the responsibility for compensation of damages should lay closest to the person doing the damage. He suggested that $5000 was too little and should be raised. REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE specified that the average in other states is between $10,000 and $15,000. The question of who should suffer the greater loss was mentioned. VINCENT USERA, Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division of the Department of Law, offered to answer questions. SENATOR SALO stated that the House HESS testimony referred to $50,000, but the bill ended up only raising the money to $5000. She reiterated the desire to clarify the $50,000 limit. VINCENT USERA said that $50,000 was the jurisdictional limit of district court. He pointed out that district court, a court of minimal jurisdiction, could take cases up to $50,000. The comparison is $5000 to $50,000 in terms of the magnitude of the offense. Without this statute, there would be no way to recover at all from the parent for a child. He noted that the legislation increases the limit of the common law currently in effect. SENATOR MILLER asked if the definition of "person" in the first section includes a corporation. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE stated that yes the definition includes a corporation. SENATOR MILLER asked if a person recovers the $5000 in a civil court action, who would be responsible for the attorney's fee. VINCENT USERA said that attorney's fees are awardable under the discretion of the court, normally 20 percent of the award. These cases seeking under $5000 would usually be limited to Small Claims Court which would not require an attorney. The defendant has the opportunity to move the case to district court and be subject to the formal rules. Mr. Usera agreed with Senator Miller's speculation that a $2000 recovery is not worth the time and effort to go to court. Number 580 SENATOR LEMAN moved to amend the amount on line 7 of page 1 from $5000 to $25,000. CHAIRMAN RIEGER objected. TAPE 94-4, SIDE B Number 578 SENATOR LEMAN explained that he believed in the principle of restitution and that raising the limit to $25,000 comes closer to allowing pay back of damages. SENATOR SALO expressed interest in the circumstance of people unable to pay. She proposed that one would find a greater pool of people unable to pay at $25,000 than at $5000; in this case what would happen. REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE specified that like any legal situation if the court places a judgement against you it could result in garnishing wages, permanent fund dividends and assets. GEORGE BINGHAM, Superintendent of Claims for State Farms for Southeast, commented that in these type situations an insurance recovery limit of $2000 would probably cover 40-50 percent of the claims, $5000 would cover 80 percent, $10,000 would probably cover 95 percent of the claims. There is always 5 to 10 percent that will not be covered. SENATOR SHARP asked if the 80 to 90 percent that Mr. Bingham spoke of included auto claims whether insured or not. MR. BINGHAM said that was correct and only 5 percent of the claims by minors are over $10,000. SENATOR SHARP expressed his dislike with establishing a maximum limit; why should someone damaged over the maximum amount be penalized he asked. SENATOR MILLER pointed out that most of the 5 percent are protected with the $25,000 limit. Chances are that 95 percent of the claims will not get up to the $25,000 range. SENATOR LEMAN asked what percentage $25,000 would cover. MR. BINGHAM stated that 97 percent would be covered. CHAIRMAN RIEGER reminded the committee of the previous motion to amend the amount on page 1 line 7 from $5000 to $25,000. A hand vote was taken with the following result: Senators Miller, Sharp, and Leman voted "Yea" and Senators Rieger and Salo voted "Nay". The motion was carried. SENATOR MILLER moved Senate Committee Substitute for CSHB 79 (HES) out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objections, it was so ordered. Number 518 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced HJR 37 (FED MONEY FOR RURAL WATER/SEWER R PROJECTS) as the next order of business before the committee. ROGER MCKOWAN, Aide to Representative Hoffman, discussed Representative Hoffman's resolution. SENATOR MILLER asked if this legislation would require a 50 percent state match. ROGER MCKOWAN clarified that this would require a 10 percent state match to a 90 percent federal contribution, $300 million nation-wide. ROGER MCKOWAN mentioned that the unique needs of the state of Alaska had been presented to the sponsor in Washington. Three quarters of the native waste problems of this country are located in Alaska. He said that these needs would be considered. SENATOR LEMAN asked if this program was the same as the programs for funding along the Texas boarder. KEITH KELTON, Division Director, the Department of Environmental Conservation, clarified that Senator Leman was referring to the Colonias program which has been receiving direct appropriations through the efforts of their congressional staff. These appropriations have been coming from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) money for this type of authorization. This is a separate funding program outside of what the EPA currently has available. JENNY NORRIS, Volunteer for the Alaska Environmental Lobby, stated the support of HJR 37 by the lobby. She said that the success of such programs is dependent upon active community participation in planning and implementation. These communities must have access to appropriate technology and training, regulations sensitive to cultural needs, and solutions that are environmentally and economically practical in design and maintenance. She urged support for HJR 37. SENATOR LEMAN asked for an example of an unethical response. MS. NORRIS specified that unethical means not appropriating training or technology within the community, in other words, not allowing community participation. SHERRIE GOLL, representing Kid Pac, supported HJR 37. She pointed out that a 1993 Alaskan community survey of communities with populations under 1,000 revealed that 48 percent of the children living in those communities were living without piped water and sewer. Such circumstances make the children vulnerable to the health risks mentioned in the bill. SENATOR LEMAN suggested that in some instances in this state a non- pipe system can and should be used. SHERRIE GOLL agreed with Senator Leman and she said that alternatives should be considered. She reiterated that the sanitation risks are present and should be dealt with. If federal money is available to help, she expressed the desire to use that money to correct the situation. SENATOR SHARP made a motion to move HJR 37 out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objections, it was so ordered. Number 425 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced SB 248 (ASSIST & PROTECT VULNERABLE ADULTS) as the next order of business before the committee. NANCY USERA, Commissioner of the Department of Administration, discussed the background of SB 248, SB 249, and SB 250. She explained that SB 248 goes in tandem with the Administrative Order of the Governor which provides for one central division to deal with senior services, the Division of Senior Services. By consolidating these services there is a more efficient use of administrative time and expenses as well as creating a central resource center for seniors. Ms. Usera explained that SB 249 offers independence and variety for seniors in assisted housing. SB 249 allows alternative care in order to foster and maintain people's independence as affordably as possible. Ms. Usera stated that SB 250 moves the responsibility for adult protection services into the Division of Senior Services. She commented that this bill represents a shift in thinking for the state. With this legislation, the state is considering the consumer in its providing of services. She emphasized that SB 250 maximizes the use of existing senior network programs in the Division of Senior Services to support the adult protection functions. Ms. Usera specified that all of these bills would work together forming an improved network for senior citizens in Alaska and a more productive use of the available funding for senior services. Number 350 DONALD HOOVER, Chairman of the Older Alaskans Commission, stated that the commission supports all three of the bills with their full concept with one exception. The bills call for the Governor to appoint the chair persons of the Advisory Board and the Commission. He did not believe that those appointments were in complete accordance with the Older Alaskans Commission's bill. SENATOR LEMAN asked what Mr. Hoover would recommend. DONALD HOOVER explained that the Commission and the Advisory Board were appointed by the Governor, therefore, they were all Governor appointees. In that respect, he suggested that the commission should elect their own chairman, which would help to free it from politics. SENATOR SHARP asked how the position of the chairman is arrived at now. MR. HOOVER explained that currently the Commission and the Advisory Board for Pioneer Homes elect their chairman from the Governor appointed members. SENATOR LEMAN inquired about a resolution of this issue. NANCY USERA offered another point of view. She stated that if one of the roles of these boards is to be an advocate for their programs then that advocacy is served best if there is a personal relationship between the Governor and the chairman. She said that advocacy is politics and access. She suggested that having the Governor appoint the chairman enhances and illustrates the importance of the program. SENATOR LEMAN did not know if Ms. Usera's point of view would violate the principle of creating a board that can work with the Governor. MS. USERA replied that there are many different models. SENATOR SHARP suggested that if the Governor appoints the chairman the cohesiveness of the committee could be distorted. CHAIRMAN RIEGER requested the presence of the Department of Law for SB 248 which will be held over to Friday's meeting. Chairman Rieger also held SB 249 and SB 250 until Friday. There being no further business to come before the committee, Chairman Rieger adjourned the meeting at 3:30 p.m.