Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/25/1996 09:06 AM 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 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 date." 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.