Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/20/1998 09:08 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
      SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE                   
                          March 20, 1998                                       
                            9:08 a.m.                                          
                                                                               
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
                                                                               
Senator Gary Wilken, Chairman                                                  
Senator Loren Leman, Vice-Chairman                                             
Senator Lyda Green                                                             
Senator Jerry Ward                                                             
Senator Johnny Ellis                                                           
                                                                               
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
                                                                               
None                                                                           
                                                                               
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 282                                                            
"An Act relating to child endangerment."                                       
     PASSED SB 282 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                            
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 331                                                            
"An Act regulating licensed professional counselors; regulating use            
of the titles 'licensed professional counselor' and 'licensed                  
counselor'; amending Rule 504(a)(3), Alaska Rules of Evidence; and             
providing for an effective date."                                              
     PASSED CSSB 331(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                     
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 252                                                            
"An Act relating to paternity establishment and child support;                 
relating to the crimes of criminal nonsupport and aiding the                   
nonpayment of child support; and amending Rule 37(b)(2)(D), Alaska             
Rules of Civil Procedure; and providing for an effective date."                
     PASSED CSSB 252(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                     
                                                                               
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                               
                                                                               
SB 282 - No previous committee action.                                         
                                                                               
SB 331 - See HESS minutes dated 3/9/98.                                        
                                                                               
SB 252 - See HESS minutes dated 3/2/98 and 3/4/98.                             
                                                                               
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
                                                                               
Senator John Torgerson                                                         
Alaska State Capitol                                                           
Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SB 282                                         
                                                                               
Ms. Diana Buffington                                                           
317 Maple Street                                                               
Kodiak, Alaska  99615                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 282                                            
                                                                               
Blair McCune                                                                   
Deputy Director                                                                
Public Defender Agency                                                         
Department of Administration                                                   
900 W 5th Ave., Suite 200                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska  99501-2090                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 282                                       
                                                                               
Beth Hagevig                                                                   
Staff to Senator Wilken                                                        
Alaska State Capitol                                                           
Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified for the sponsor of SB 331                       
                                                                               
Mr. Allan Morotti                                                              
Alaska School Counselors' Association                                          
791 Goldstreak Road                                                            
Fairbanks, Alaska  99712                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 331                                           
                                                                               
Robert Pound                                                                   
Southcentral Counseling Center                                                 
3725 Spinnaker Drive                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 331                                           
                                                                               
Robert Lane, Ph.D.                                                             
President Elect                                                                
Alaska Psychological Association                                               
P.O. Box 241292                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska  99524-1292                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 331                                       
                                                                               
Bailey Reichard                                                                
23737 Chandell                                                                 
Chugiak, Alaska  99567                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 331                                           
                                                                               
Cathryn Simon                                                                  
12320 Tracy Road, Apt. A                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska  99516                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 331                                           
                                                                               
Pamela Watts                                                                   
Alaska Counseling Association of Alaska                                        
P.O. Box 240554                                                                
Douglas, Alaska  99824                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 331                                           
                                                                               
Catherine Reardon                                                              
Department of Commerce and Economic Development                                
P.O. Box 110806                                                                
Juneau, Alaska  99811-0806                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 331                                       
                                                                               
Dan Branch, Assistant Attorney General                                         
Human Services Section                                                         
Department of Law                                                              
P.O. Box 110300                                                                
Juneau, Alaska  99811-0300                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 252                        
                                                                               
Barbara Miklos, Director                                                       
Child Support Enforcement Division                                             
Department of Revenue                                                          
550 W 7th Ave., Suite 310                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions regarding SB 252                       
                                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
                                                                               
TAPE 98-25, SIDE A                                                             
Number 001                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social                 
Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:08 a.m.  Present were                  
Senators Ward, Green, and Chairman Wilken.  The order of business              
before the committee was SB 282, SB 331, and SB 252.  He announced             
a joint House and Senate Health, Education and Social Services                 
Committee meeting was scheduled next Thursday to hear a                        
presentation by ECS on early child brain development.                          
                                                                               
                  SB 282 - CHILD ENDANGERMENT                                  
                                                                               
SENATOR JOHN TORGERSON, sponsor of SB 282, gave the following                  
overview of the legislation.  SB 282 was introduced on behalf of               
the Chief of Police of the City of Soldotna who is affiliated with             
the Police Chiefs' Association for the State of Alaska.  This bill             
changes the standard of proof in the statute related to child                  
endangerment from "intentionally" to "knowingly."  The intentional             
standard requires a higher standard of proof for prosecution.                  
Convictions of child endangerment have been successfully evaded,               
based on the argument that the offender was not intent on harming              
the child when he/she placed the child in dangerous circumstances.             
The term "knowingly" reduces the legal standard to an act in which             
a person knowingly places a child in a situation where harm could              
result, thereby making the person responsible for that action.                 
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON explained SB 282 also contains new language                  
regarding conduct which creates a substantial risk of physical                 
injury.  This language is intended to apply to those situations in             
which a parent engages in conduct, such as alcohol consumption or              
drug use, that subsequently endangers the child.                               
                                                                               
Number 068                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN questioned whether the definition of "recklessly                 
engaged in conduct" could be expanded to something that might                  
already be illegal, such as driving with a child in the back of a              
truck, and whether it might be applied in ways that the sponsor did            
not intend.                                                                    
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON said he was unsure, but that was not his intent.             
                                                                               
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN expressed concern that the definition might be too               
open.  She suggested reviewing the definition in the legislation in            
the Senate Judiciary Committee.                                                
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON clarified the section of the statute that is                 
being amended by SB 282 does not refer to other types of                       
endangerment, but it is possible that it could be applied to other             
situations.                                                                    
                                                                               
Number 088                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN asked if SB 282 changes the penalty from a                       
misdemeanor to a class C felony.                                               
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON said it does.                                                
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN asked if a class C felony is punishable by up to five            
years in prison and a $50,000 fine, and whether that is the                    
sponsor's intent.                                                              
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON said yes.                                                    
                                                                               
Number 101                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked Senator Torgerson if he could provide                    
examples of cases that police departments have encountered in the              
past to include in committee packets.                                          
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON stated Shirley Warner, police chief of Soldotna,             
and the former Chief of Detectives for the Anchorage Police                    
Department, is very knowledgeable about the difference that                    
changing the standard will make in regard to child endangerment                
cases.  He stated Ms. Warner would be glad to share information on             
that subject.                                                                  
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN said he thought examples to demonstrate the effect             
of this legislation will help the argument to enact it.                        
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN asked Senator Torgerson if he sponsored SB 282 on                
behalf of the Police Chiefs' Association.                                      
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON clarified that he sponsored it at Ms. Warner's               
request and that she brought it to the Police Chiefs' Association.             
He said he does not have a resolution from that association but he             
is aware that they discussed it and support it.                                
                                                                               
Number 125                                                                     
                                                                               
DIANA BUFFINGTON, State Coordinator for the Childrens' Rights                  
Council of Alaska, testified in favor of SB 282.  She stated SB 282            
is one the few bills that will have no room for misinterpretation              
or misuse by the Division of Family and Youth Services (DFYS).                 
Children are endangered when they are left alone in hotel rooms or             
in trash cans at young ages; these types of occurrences are ever               
increasing with young mothers.  She stated her organization is one             
of 34 chapters across the United States and it is very interested              
in health and welfare issues.  She repeated her wholehearted                   
support for SB 282.                                                            
                                                                               
BLAIR MCCUNE, Deputy Director of the Public Defender's Agency,                 
noted his agency submitted an indeterminate fiscal note on SB 282.             
The agency is concerned that the bill will have a significant                  
fiscal impact on the criminal justice system but it has not been               
able to devise hard numbers of potential cases at this time.  DHSS             
receives about 15,000 telephone reports of harm to children. Not               
all reports are confirmed.  Of the 15,000 reports, 4,312 of the                
callers alleged some type of physical abuse.  He suspected the                 
number of reports of harm would increase if the risk of physical               
injury becomes an offense.  Mr. McCune commented that current                  
criminal law defines physical injury as any type of pain or                    
impairment of physical condition.  In general, when a physical                 
injury is involved, as opposed to a serious physical injury, the               
offense is a misdemeanor.  He pointed out that SB 282 would be                 
inconsistent in that it makes the same type of offense a class C               
felony.  He repeated his concern that this bill might have a big               
impact on the criminal justice system.                                         
                                                                               
Number 170                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN indicated his intent to pass SB 282 on to the                  
Senate Judiciary Committee at which time Mr. McCune will have the              
opportunity to provide more accurate figures for the fiscal note.              
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD moved SB 282 out of committee with individual                     
recommendations and its accompanying fiscal notes.  There being no             
objection, the motion carried.                                                 
                                                                               
           SB 331 - PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR LICENSING                           
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced a committee substitute (version F) had               
been prepared for SB 331.  SENATOR GREEN moved to adopt version F              
as the working document of the committee.  There being no                      
objection, the motion carried.                                                 
                                                                               
BETH HAGEVIG, staff to Senator Wilken, sponsor of the measure,                 
explained the changes in the committee substitute as follows.  On              
page 7, line 23, the word "appraisal" was changed to the word                  
"diagnosis."  The Alaska Psychologists Association (APA) suggested             
the word appraisal be used, but it was changed to diagnosis on the             
advice of Catherine Reardon, who felt it should be used to reflect             
the fact that counselors actually diagnose clients.  On line 24,               
the phrase "other than through the use of projective techniques"               
was added as a courtesy to the APA and because the sponsor's staff             
is of the opinion that no professional counselors practice                     
projective techniques.  On page 29, the word "appraisal" was                   
changed to "evaluation" before the word "techniques" at the                    
suggestion of the APA.  On page 8, Section 2 was added by the                  
Legislative Council.  That section adds the Board of Licensed                  
Professional Counselors to the applicability of AS 08.01, which is             
standard procedure for all boards.  Section 4, beginning on line               
27, is also a standard provision for all boards and provides for a             
sunset date.                                                                   
                                                                               
Number 244                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN said when the committee reviewed this bill at a                
previous meeting, there was discussion about merging this board                
with the board of marriage and family therapists.  He noted it is              
not appropriate to do so at this time and it is a proposal best                
left to the professional groups to work out.  He asked Ms. Hagevig             
if the groups she worked with on SB 331 agree with the bill's                  
content.                                                                       
                                                                               
MS. HAGEVIG said they do and, although not all of the issues have              
been hammered out, the groups have made progress.                              
                                                                               
Number 256                                                                     
                                                                               
MR. ALAN MOROTTI, representing both the Alaska School Counselors'              
Association and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Guidance and                
Counseling Program, addressed his comments to the letter sent to               
Senator Wilken, dated March 20, from Dr. Lane of the APA.  In that             
letter, Dr. Lane expressed concern that SB 331 does not require                
counselors to meet stringent educational requirements similar to               
those required for a psychological associate license.  Mr. Morotti             
explained APA's regulations address seven areas of study. Those                
seven areas correspond to the eight areas of study put forward by              
the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Educationally              
Related Programs (CACERP), which is the accrediting arm of the                 
American Counseling Association.  CSSB 331 specifically requires               
counselors to have completed 60 semester hours plus 3,000 hours of             
supervised experience after the master's degree.  He believed those            
requirements meet all of the criteria for a psychological associate            
license.  Mr. Morotti argued that counselors work with clients                 
moving through transitional issues and clients who need long term              
supportive care for some type of mental illness and psychologists              
perform many of the same duties; the line is not as clear between              
the two professions as psychologists like to make out.  Regarding              
the involvement in the practice of diagnosis and evaluation, Mr.               
Morotti stated no one mental health profession has the exclusive               
ability to do that.  He pointed out Dr. Lane is assuming that a                
master's level trained counselor is not of the same level and                  
ability to diagnose and evaluate clients as psychological                      
associates, which flies in the face of reason, especially when 44              
other states have licensure requirements for counselors.  He                   
believes if Alaska is going to bring the counseling profession in              
line with the rest of the nation, it is to the benefit of                      
counselors and consumers to require standards and licensure                    
requirements.                                                                  
                                                                               
Number 333                                                                     
                                                                               
MR. ROBERT POUND, representing the American Counseling Association             
of Alaska (ACAA), made the following remarks.  SB 331 appears to               
have equivalent educational requirements to other bills pertaining             
to mental health professions.  Many people support this bill                   
because of the high cost of supervision which, at present, can only            
be done by licensed psychologists or psychological associates.                 
Many counselors who received licenses from other states were                   
supervised by licensed psychiatrists, psychologists, and social                
workers.  Mr. Pound said he completed an internship, which included            
diagnosis and treatment of clients, and he completed 2,000 hours of            
supervised experience and then took the national board                         
certification test in order to obtain licensed professional                    
certification in the State of Colorado ten years ago. He then                  
practiced in Colorado yet he still cannot be certified under                   
Alaska's system.  Many people in the counseling profession have                
backgrounds and experience that they cannot get credit for,                    
including extensive hospital experience with patients with serious             
psychopathology which provides an excellent training ground for                
observation, diagnosis and treatment on a daily basis.  Steps                  
required for the psychological associate license are not                       
necessarily higher than those for other programs that many                     
counselors who were trained in other states completed.  The                    
psychological associate licensing steps require applicants to jump             
more hurdles and they serve to decrease the number of qualified                
professionals and increase the cost of licensing.  Mr. Pound                   
thought this whole approach questions the integrity of the other               
master's level licensed professionals, including licensed clinical             
social workers and marriage and family therapists.  A large number             
of individuals in Alaska, who do not have insurance, and are low               
income and/or homeless, need treatment and are served by agency                
staff.  They are not served by psychologists and are referred to               
agencies because of their monetary status.  Agency staff diagnose              
and treat those types of people on a daily basis.  Mr. Pound                   
concluded by saying that the information presented demonstrates                
that SB 331 requires that licensed professional counselors be                  
adequately trained and it protects consumers against practice by               
unqualified people.                                                            
                                                                               
Number 398                                                                     
                                                                               
DR. ROBERT LANE, President-elect of the APA, stated that although              
some psychologists are opposed to any sort of licensing for                    
master's level practitioners, that is not the APA's position.  The             
APA would like to see appropriate licensing requirements and                   
appropriate scopes of practice be established.  In general, APA                
believes most counseling programs prepare people to deliver                    
services within what is considered the normal range of human                   
development and human problems as opposed to mental disorders                  
listed in the DSM IV.  The delivery of services by most master's               
level people in agencies around the state is often supervised by               
licensed clinical social workers or licensed psychologists and is              
typically done as an independent practice.  He commented his letter            
to Senator Wilken contained proposed language to put appropriate               
limits on the scope of practice for licensed professional                      
counselors.  The APA is looking to this legislation to provide                 
appropriate scopes of practice, appropriate accountability, and to             
serve the public in the best way possible.                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN informed Dr. Lane that the committee received a                
letter from Pamela Watts, President of the ACAA, in response to the            
proposals in his letter and that she would be testifying shortly.              
                                                                               
Number 427                                                                     
                                                                               
MR. BAILEY REICHARD, staff at Southcentral Counseling, commented               
that the level of training required for counselors is adequate,                
that counselors are currently diagnosing and treating clients, and             
they are making recommendations to psychologists and psychiatrists.            
Psychologists and psychiatrists rely on counselors to assess and               
diagnose clients because they do not have the time.  Counselors                
undergo internships and most have years of experience assessing and            
diagnosing clients. He agreed with Mr. Pound that it is time to                
give counselors their due.  Counselors are not competing with                  
psychologists for clients; counselors often work with clients who              
cannot afford psychologists' fees.                                             
                                                                               
CATHRYN SIMON, a member of the American Counselors' Association of             
Alaska, and a nationally certified counselor, made the following               
statements.  She was a certified mental health counselor in the                
State of Washington for three years before moving to Alaska.  She              
pointed out SB 331 is the equivalent of Washington State's                     
counselor certification law.  This bill will be advantageous to                
consumers because it helps them to identify counselors who have met            
state and national standards, and it establishes a grievance                   
procedure and a means of recourse when they have been victims of               
unethical practices.  Second, it gives clients more options for                
meeting their mental health needs.  The increase in the type and               
number of licensed professionals translates to lower costs to                  
consumers without compromising the standard of care.  Third, the               
bill will increase the availability of services to consumers,                  
particularly for rural populations that have had poor access to                
services.  From the viewpoint of a professional counselor, MS.                 
SIMON said she is in favor of SB 331 because it allows counselors              
to perform the job they were trained to do and can already do in               
other states.  She noted the point was made that counselors are                
usually not in private practice.  However, in other states that                
have counselor licensure, master's level counselors do go into                 
private practice and can serve the populations they are trained to.            
She stated she does not support individuals administering tests or             
making diagnoses when they have not been properly trained, but the             
professional code of ethics prohibits counselors from doing so,                
and counselors are trained in those areas.  Her position is that               
all professionals who are properly trained to administer and                   
interpret tests, and to diagnose and treat mental illnesses, should            
be allowed to do so regardless of their titles or the discipline to            
which they belong.  SB 331 is a right to work issue for                        
professional counselors.  She urged committee members to support               
the legislation.                                                               
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN welcomed Senators Leman and Ellis.                             
                                                                               
Number 504                                                                     
                                                                               
MS. PAMELA WATTS, President of the ACAA, stated that previous                  
speakers addressed most areas of concern with SB 331.  She                     
indicated her letter to Senator Wilken, dated March 20, 1998,                  
contains a list of the general core areas of study that counseling             
programs cover and she believes that list should cover Dr. Lane's              
concern about the lack of specificity in the licensure bill.  she              
pointed out that although the specific course work is not listed in            
the bill, that is the case with the social workers' licensing                  
requirements.  A national examination will be required for                     
licensure of professional counselors; to take that examination,                
individuals must graduate from a CACREP approved school.  In                   
addition, every behavioral health professional receives on-the-job             
training to become skilled in his/her specific area of expertise               
during the 3,000 hour internship.  Social workers, counselors and              
psychologists often fine tune their areas of specialty during                  
internships.                                                                   
                                                                               
MS. WATTS said the other area of concern expressed by Dr. Lane was             
the broad definition of counseling and APA's belief that the                   
diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders should remain in the               
purview of licensed psychologists or psychological associates.  Ms.            
Watts referred to other language in the bill, and said marriage and            
family therapists are able to diagnose and treat mental and                    
emotional disorders that are referenced in the standard diagnostic             
nomenclature, and social workers are able to use techniques of                 
applied psychotherapy of a non-medical nature to assist and                    
diagnose the treatment of mental and emotional conditions.                     
Counselors are not asking for any provisions different than those              
provided to similarly educated and qualified behavioral health                 
professionals.                                                                 
                                                                               
MS. WATTS said she spoke with Sheila Clarson of the APA earlier                
this week who acknowledged that there is a diversity of opinion                
among psychologists in the state about whether or not they support             
counselor licensure.  She noted the social workers board chose to              
leave it up to individuals within that discipline to respond either            
in support or in opposition to SB 331.  Ms. Watts maintained the               
ACAA has addressed the concerns of the APA and she asked committee             
members to move the bill out of committee.                                     
                                                                               
Number 551                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked Dr. Lane if he had a copy of Ms. Watts'                  
letter.  DR. LANE said the letter was just handed to him so he had             
not had time to review it.                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN informed Dr. Lane he planned to move the                       
legislation on to the Senate Judiciary Committee today where Dr.               
Lane could develop a response to Ms. Watts' letter, if he so                   
desired.                                                                       
                                                                               
Number 556                                                                     
                                                                               
CATHERINE REARDON, director of the Division of Occupational                    
Licensing, stated this is a difficult type of legislation to deal              
with because there are knowledgeable professionals who differ in               
their opinions about the training and scopes of practice that                  
should be permitted.  This difference is reflected in the boards of            
marriage and family therapists, psychological examiners, and social            
workers.  The issues are further complicated by the fact that the              
scopes of practice for the three behavioral health professions                 
already overlap.  She stated her view on allowing professional                 
counselors to diagnose is that if the Legislature intends to permit            
professional counselors to diagnose clients, that it be stated in              
the bill to enable her to enforce the law.  She thought it makes               
sense that licensed counselors would be diagnosing clients.  She               
pointed out the reason diagnosis is a contentious issue is that                
professionals must be able to assess the problem to fix it and also            
because unless licensed professionals can identify a diagnosis for             
insurance companies, billing and reimbursements are not possible.              
                                                                               
TAPE 98-25, SIDE B                                                             
Number 574                                                                     
                                                                               
MS. REARDON informed committee members the licensed counselors                 
would have to cover the costs of establishing and maintaining a                
board.  She did believe the license fee will be expensive because              
her best estimate is that 250 people will choose to be licensed.               
She said it is hard to know because SB 331 creates a title                     
restriction, not a practice restriction.  If 250 people choose to              
become licensed, the license fee will probably cost $400 to $700               
for a two-year license.  The fee will depend on operating costs,               
especially related to investigations, because it is not as easy to             
point to what is competent or incompetent counseling practice as it            
is in professions such as accountacy.                                          
                                                                               
Number 556                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN questioned whether the other three boards have a               
definition of "diagnosis" in statute.                                          
                                                                               
MS. REARDON said no.  The marriage and family therapist legislation            
just says it means the diagnosis and treatments.  The clinical                 
social workers board legislation cross references social work                  
principles and methods which refers to "assisting in the diagnosis             
and treatment."  The psychology board language says diagnosis,                 
prevention, treatment and amelioration of psychological problems.              
MS. REARDON said professionals in these fields often refer to the              
DSM IV, which is a commonly used diagnostic manual, and is accepted            
by insurance companies.  The DSM IV lists a series of                          
characteristics of different mental illnesses but it does not                  
contain different levels of seriousness.                                       
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked Ms. Watts how many counselors she thought                
would become licensed.                                                         
                                                                               
MS. WATTS estimated that there are 600 counselors in the State of              
Alaska and she agreed that probably 250 to 300 of them would become            
licensed.  She thought that as time goes on, and the University                
system becomes more aligned with national standards both in the                
fields of psychology, counseling, and social work, more and more               
people will become licensed in the state.                                      
                                                                               
Number 528                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked Ms. Reardon if she thought the people of                 
Alaska or the counselors would be better served by this                        
legislation.                                                                   
                                                                               
MS. REARDON replied SB 331 will certainly be beneficial to the                 
development of the counseling profession.  She thought it will help            
in terms of providing access to a different type of behavioral                 
health treatment and more providers will be available, as long as              
people do not do things they are not trained to do.  She noted                 
family and marriage therapists are diagnosing right now so this                
legislation will not create a new problem that does not already                
have the potential to exist.                                                   
                                                                               
MS. WATTS added that in answer to whether or not consumers will be             
better protected, she truly believes they will because this bill               
will require more accountability for people who are already                    
providing counseling services.  She believes one part of the bill              
that will cover that problem is the limitation of practice                     
regulating individuals who might be tempted to practice beyond                 
their scope of expertise.                                                      
                                                                               
There being no further testimony on CSSB 331(HES), SENATOR LEMAN               
moved the bill from committee with individual recommendations.                 
There being no objection, the motion carried.                                  
                                                                               
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                            
                                                                               
       SB 252 - PATERNITY/CHILD SUPPORT/NONSUPPORT CRIMES                      
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN informed committee members that the Department of              
Revenue wrote a letter to the committee addressing several                     
questions that were raised during its previous hearing on SB 252.              
He explained the content of that letter was rolled into a committee            
substitute for SB 252 which is labeled "version B."                            
                                                                               
SENATOR LEMAN moved to adopt CSSB 252(HES), version B, as the                  
working document of the committee. SENATOR ELLIS objected for the              
purpose of an explanation.                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked Barbara Miklos, Director of the Child Support            
Enforcement Division, to provide the committee with an explanation             
of the changes made in the committee substitute.  MS. MIKLOS                   
deferred to Dan Branch of the Department of Law.                               
                                                                               
Number 460                                                                     
                                                                               
DAN BRANCH, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law,                     
explained the main changes in version B were made in response to               
information received from the federal government and, in part,                 
because of information from the National Conference of State                   
Legislatures received from Senator Green during the last hearing.              
The main difference between version B and the original version is              
that version B removes the requirement that courts, in contempt                
actions, can revoke the sport fishing and hunting licenses for                 
failure to honor a child support subpoena or paternity order.                  
Several provisions were removed throughout the bill that would have            
given courts the authority to do that.                                         
                                                                               
Number 447                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN asked if the requirement to report anyone who has                
applied for a sports license directly to CSED was removed.                     
                                                                               
MR. BRANCH asked for clarification of the question.                            
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN asked if this bill passes, whether sports fishing and            
hunting license applicants' names will not be entered into a CSED              
database.                                                                      
                                                                               
MR. BRANCH responded that federal mandates still require social                
security numbers of applicants be provided on sports hunting and               
fishing license applications.  CSED has the right to access that               
information to pass on to the federal government.                              
                                                                               
There being no further objection to the adoption of the committee              
substitute, CSSB 252(HESS) was adopted.                                        
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS pointed out it is true that the social security number              
reporting requirements are part of the federal statute, but there              
is not going to be a process by which the Department of Fish and               
Game will be reporting all license applicants' social security                 
numbers to CSED.                                                               
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD questioned whether there is a federal requirement to              
do so, but CSED does not expect the Department of Fish and Game to             
comply.                                                                        
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS clarified that the federal act requires that the social             
security information be disclosed on the fishing license                       
application, so that will be collected, but there is no process by             
which those numbers and names will be reported to CSED because                 
under this version of the bill, a fishing or hunting license can               
only be taken away if ordered by a judge. She noted this version of            
the bill differs from last year's version in the court order                   
requirement.                                                                   
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD confirmed that the information would be gathered but              
not disclosed.                                                                 
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS said the information would be available at the                      
Department of Fish and Game if someone asked for it, which is the              
purpose of gathering the information.                                          
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN questioned whether that would mean that if CSED was              
looking for a certain person and suspected the person had a fishing            
license, CSED could request the Department of Fish and Game to do              
a search for information on that person.                                       
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS said that was correct.  She commented that the general              
purpose behind proposing these revisions to the legislation was                
the committee's concern that this legislation contain nothing other            
than the provisions required by the federal government.  Based on              
the information received from the National Conference on State                 
Legislatures, plus information from the federal government,CSED                
felt it could offer these amendments without jeopardizing its                  
mandate to meet federal requirements.  She added this bill will be             
traveling afar after leaving the HESS committee, and it is CSED's              
intent to work with the Legislature to make this bill acceptable.              
                                                                               
Number 400                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN questioned whether there is a different reporting                
standard that will be applied toward large employers with major                
computer networks and access to getting information directly to                
CSED, and small employers who do not have computer systems or a                
mechanism by which to regularly report the names to CSED.                      
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS said absolutely because the employer may choose the                 
mechanism by which they report.  Many of the larger employers are              
already transferring the information electronically.  The smaller              
employer may send CSED a form of their choice or a copy of W-4                 
forms.                                                                         
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN asked what the time frame is for transmitting W-4                
forms.                                                                         
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS replied the federal requirement for all employers is 20             
days.                                                                          
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN asked if CSED has a waiver process to where it can               
make inquiries of smaller employers about new employees.                       
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS answered CSED could, but CSED is willing to work with               
smaller employers to set up systems that work for them.                        
Number 378                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked Senator Ward if he could provide any                     
information to the committee about the status of similar                       
legislation in the State of Idaho.                                             
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD stated the State of Idaho received a formal notice                
from the federal Department of Health and Human Services that                  
stated it did not approve of the State of Idaho's plan to comply.              
He asked Ms. Miklos whether the State of Alaska has received such              
a notice.                                                                      
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS said she had not.                                                   
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD indicated when the State of Idaho received its notice,            
it requested a formal hearing.  He asked Ms. Miklos at what point              
she thought the State of Alaska would receive such a notice from               
the Department of Health and Social Services disapproving a lack of            
action on the part of the Legislature, concerning this legislation.            
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS replied that in her discussion with representatives of              
the federal government, she thinks it would be shortly after the               
legislative session ended.                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD asked, at that time, if the Legislature has taken no              
action or an action deemed inadequate by the federal government,               
then the State of Alaska would immediately have to file a request              
for a formal hearing.  He also asked if any other states have filed            
formal requests for hearings.                                                  
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS said the State of Idaho did and that states are required            
to file within 60 days, otherwise the loss of federal funds is                 
automatic.  Requesting a formal hearing provides a state with an               
opportunity to discuss with federal officials the reasons for non-             
compliance and an additional 60 days to comply.  She did not know              
of any state that has had a formal hearing.                                    
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD asked if the State of Florida has requested a formal              
hearing.                                                                       
                                                                               
Number 351                                                                     
                                                                               
MS. MIKLOS said she did not know, but the states that have                     
requested the hearings are doing so because they must.  She added              
that legislation has passed the Idaho House of Representatives and             
is now in the second reading the Senate as of yesterday, in order              
to comply with the federal requirements.  She believed the Idaho               
Legislature will be adjourning shortly so CSED should know what                
action it took within a week or so.                                            
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD indicated his understanding is that the Idaho Senate              
is working on a committee substitute right now.                                
                                                                               
There being no further questions or testimony about the                        
legislation, SENATOR GREEN moved CSSB 252(HESS) out of committee               
with individual recommendations, with the understanding that she               
would be working on this legislation in the Senate Resources                   
Committee.  There being no objection, the motion carried.                      
CHAIRMAN WILKEN adjourned the meeting at 10:15 a.m.                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects