Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/25/1996 09:06 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                         March 25, 1996                                        
                           9:06 a.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Lyda Green, Chairman                                                  
 Senator Loren Leman, Vice-Chairman                                            
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
 CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 215(RES)                                               
 "An Act streamlining the functions of state government, including             
 allowing agents selling fish and game licenses and tags to retain             
 certain compensation; authorizing the Department of Health and                
 Social Services to award grants for certain services for                      
 developmentally delayed or disabled children; relating to rabies              
 control and administration of flour and bread standards by the                
 Department of Environmental Conservation; repealing the Athletic              
 Commission, the regulation of boxing and wrestling, the                       
 certification of professional geologists, and the Water Resources             
 Board; repealing certain filing statements and bonds for                      
 enforcement and collection of certain taxes; relating to service of           
 process on nonresident taxpayers; and providing for an effective              
 HOUSE BILL NO. 523                                                            
 "An Act expressing the state's policy with respect to sobriety."              
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SB 215 - See Resources minutes dated 3/18/96.                                 
 HB 523 - No previous action to record.                                        
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Elmer Lindstrom, Special Assistant                                            
 Department of Health & Social Services                                        
 PO Box 110601                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0601                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions.                                      
 Daniella Loper, Staff                                                         
 Representative Brian Porter                                                   
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Reviewed HB 523.                                         
 Don Dapcevich, Executive Director                                             
 Advisory Board of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse                                   
 PO Box 110608                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska                                                                
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 523.                                        
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 96-22, SIDE A                                                            
        SB 215 OMNIBUS STATE AGENCY OPERATIONS & PROGRAM                      
 Number 003                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social                 
 Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:06 a.m. and introduced                
 SB 215  as the first order of business before the committee.                  
 ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant in Department of Health & Social           
 Services, said that he would speak to Section 5 regarding the                 
 Infant Learning Program.  When the Infant Learning Program                    
 attempted to promulgate regulations in order to bring the program             
 into compliance with new federal requirements, the Department of              
 Law informed the department that it did not have specific grant               
 making authority for this program.  This program has and is                   
 currently operating as a grant program.  Without the grant                    
 authority, this program would be required to go to a contractual              
 basis which requires the procurement process and some additional              
 costs to the department.                                                      
 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if he was referring only to the Infant                   
 Learning Program.  ELMER LINDSTROM explained that the Infant                  
 Learning Program is funded through the Division of Public Health.             
 Mr. Lindstrom acknowledged that there is often confusion that the             
 program is in the Division of Mental Health and Developmental                 
 Disabilities.  In response to Chairman Green, review of the full              
 statute would indicate that it only refers to the Infant Learning             
 Program.  Mr. Lindstrom said that the department had assumed that             
 they had grant powers for this program, but the Department of Law             
 indicated otherwise when approached about regulations.                        
 Number 066                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN expressed concern with what sideboards were placed on           
 the grant authority.  Senator Leman believed it is probably right             
 to grant this authority.  Does the federal law establish certain              
 restrictions regarding what this can be used for?  ELMER LINDSTROM            
 did not have the regulations nor did he recall the issue with the             
 federal government.  The regulations were clean up regulations of             
 no programmatic impact, but were required in order to receive                 
 federal funds.  Mr. Lindstrom said that he could obtain that                  
 information for the committee.                                                
 CHAIRMAN GREEN restated that without this grant making authority,             
 the department would have to contract which creates more work and             
 increases the costs.  ELMER LINDSTROM agreed and said that                    
 additional administrative costs would be incurred by the                      
 department.  This program has always operated as a grant program;             
 this is a technical clean up.  With regards to Section 6, Mr.                 
 Lindstrom did not believe that section applied to the program.                
 CHAIRMAN GREEN thought that Sections 5 and 6 were related to the              
 department.  ELMER LINDSTROM said that he was incorrect, Sections             
 5 and 6 work together.                                                        
 CHAIRMAN GREEN inquired as to the new language in Section 6.                  
 SENATOR LEMAN believed that Section 6 should be consistent with               
 Section 5.                                                                    
 Number 129                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER realized that page 3, line 11 is already existing              
 law, but how does it work?  What happens if a family is determined            
 to no longer be eligible for a program that they receive funding?             
 Does the department attempt to recover those funds of families that           
 were not really eligible?  ELMER LINDSTROM did not know the process           
 in detail.  Many of the ILPs are operated by school districts.  Mr.           
 Lindstrom acknowledged that there is still a waiting list in some             
 areas of the state.  Mr. Lindstrom said that he could get this                
 information from the division.                                                
 SENATOR MILLER was curious to what happens when a family is                   
 determined to be ineligible.  The language seems to indicate that             
 the family would receive funding until proven not to be eligible.             
 In that case, is there an attempt to recover those funds?  ELMER              
 LINDSTROM said that he would get that information.                            
 A discussion ensued about whether or not to hold the bill for the             
 answers to these questions.                                                   
 CHAIRMAN GREEN said that the staff is frustrated because people               
 challenge a decision in order to continue to receive benefits.                
 During the time between the challenge and the determination, the              
 person receives benefits.  If it is determined that the person is             
 ineligible, is there an effort to retrieve the money they received?           
 Chairman Green held the bill until Wednesday when Mr. Lindstrom               
 would provide the requested information.                                      
              HB 523 STATE'S POLICY ON SOBRIETY                              
 Number 188                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced  HB 523  as the next order of business              
 before the committee.                                                         
 DANIELLA LOPER, Staff to Representative Porter, explained that                
 HB 523 places written language into the declaration of policy for             
 the Division of Alcohol and the Drug Program which states that                
 Alaska recognizes and reinforces the example set by its citizen               
 that lead and support a life of sobriety.  For the Alaska                     
 Federation of Natives and 58 other local, regional, and statewide             
 organizations sobriety is understood as "a positive, healthy and              
 productive way of life free from the devastating effects of alcohol           
 and drugs."  Ms. Loper pointed out that the Division of Alcoholism            
 and Drug Abuse placed the definition of "sobriety" in their                   
 strategic plan "meeting the Challenge" which has been adopted by              
 the division and the Governor.  Ms. Loper read from a letter from             
 Greg Nothstine which was included in the committee packets.                   
 SENATOR LEMAN noted that the existing policy of the state is that             
 alcoholics and intoxicated persons should not be criminally                   
 prosecuted for their consumption.  There are laws that prosecute              
 for the evidence of consumption.  Has that been discussed?                    
 DANIELLA LOPER clarified that HB 523 does not address that issue.             
 This question was also asked in House HESS.  HB 523 merely                    
 recognizes that sobriety should be one of the solutions for those             
 having problems with drugs and alcohol.                                       
 Number 257                                                                    
 SENATOR SALO acknowledged that the issue is taking a turn.  Does              
 the current state policy encourage villages to go dry?  DANIELLA              
 LOPER could not answer that question.  Ms. Loper said that HB 523             
 would not substantially change the policy of drug and alcohol                 
 programs.  HB 523 merely offers another alternative to appreciate,            
 recognize, and reinforce.  This is not mandatory language.                    
 SENATOR MILLER did not believe that there was any conflict between            
 current policy and HB 523.  He believed that alcoholics were only             
 being criminally prosecuted when they committed a crime, otherwise            
 they are held until they are no longer intoxicated.                           
 DANIELLA LOPER said that the Division of Alcohol and Drug Program             
 supports HB 523.                                                              
 DON DAPCEVICH, Executive Director for the Advisory Board of                   
 Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, said that the board supported the                  
 legislature's passage of HB 523.  The bill advocates sobriety for             
 those who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs.  The bill also             
 speaks to those who never have a problem with alcohol and drugs,              
 but who choose to lead a sober lifestyle publicly.                            
 CHAIRMAN GREEN did not oppose HB 523, but was not sure that statute           
 was the appropriate place for this.                                           
 Number 312                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN moved that HB 523 be reported from committee with               
 individual recommendations and the zero fiscal note.  Hearing no              
 objections, it was so ordered.                                                
 There being no further business before the committee, the meeting             
 was adjourned at 9:28 a.m.                                                    

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