Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

02/03/2022 01:30 PM Senate HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 132 CONTROLLED SUB. DATA: EXEMPT VETERINARIAN TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
*+ HB 133 AK ED SAVINGS PROGRAMS/ELIGIBILITY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
      SENATE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                    
                        February 3, 2022                                                                                        
                           1:47 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                             DRAFT                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator David Wilson, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Shelley Hughes, Vice Chair                                                                                              
Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                            
Senator Lora Reinbold                                                                                                           
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 132                                                                                                             
"An Act exempting veterinarians from the requirements of the                                                                    
controlled substance prescription database."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 133(L&C)                                                                                
"An  Act relating  to  the Alaska  savings  program for  eligible                                                               
individuals; relating to education  savings programs; relating to                                                               
the Education  Trust of  Alaska; relating  to the  Alaska advance                                                               
college tuition  savings fund; relating  to the  Alaska education                                                               
savings  program for  children;  and relating  to the  Governor's                                                               
Council on Disabilities and Special Education."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 132                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CONTROLLED SUB. DATA: EXEMPT VETERINARIAN                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) HOLLAND                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
04/28/21       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/28/21       (S)       HSS, L&C                                                                                               
02/03/22       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 133                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: AK ED SAVINGS PROGRAMS/ELIGIBILITY                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): LABOR & COMMERCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
03/10/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/10/21       (H)       L&C, FIN                                                                                               
03/17/21       (H)       L&C AT 5:45 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
03/17/21       (H)       <Bill Hearing Canceled>                                                                                
03/19/21       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
03/19/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/19/21       (H)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
03/24/21       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM DAVIS 106                                                                               
03/24/21       (H)       Moved CSHB 133(L&C) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/24/21       (H)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
03/24/21       (H)       L&C AT 5:45 PM DAVIS 106                                                                               
03/24/21       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/25/21       (H)       L&C RPT CS(L&C) 6DP 1NR                                                                                
03/25/21       (H)       DP: SNYDER, SCHRAGE, MCCARTY, NELSON,                                                                  
                         SPOHNHOLZ, FIELDS                                                                                      
03/25/21       (H)       NR: KAUFMAN                                                                                            
04/07/21       (H)       HSS REPLACES FIN REFERRAL                                                                              
04/07/21       (H)       BILL REPRINTED                                                                                         
04/20/21       (H)       HSS AT 3:00 PM DAVIS 106                                                                               
04/20/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/20/21       (H)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
04/22/21       (H)       HSS AT 3:00 PM DAVIS 106                                                                               
04/22/21       (H)       Moved CSHB 133(L&C) Out of Committee                                                                   
04/22/21       (H)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
04/26/21       (H)       HSS RPT CS(L&C) 5DP 1NR                                                                                
04/26/21       (H)       DP:    FIELDS,    SPOHNHOLZ,    MCCARTY,                                                               
                        ZULKOSKY, SNYDER                                                                                        
04/26/21       (H)       NR: KURKA                                                                                              
05/07/21       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
05/07/21       (H)       VERSION: CSHB 133(L&C)                                                                                 
05/10/21       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/10/21       (S)       HSS, L&C                                                                                               
02/03/22       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
SENATOR ROGER HOLLAND                                                                                                           
Alaska State Legislature,                                                                                                       
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 132.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
NIKKI ROSE, Staff                                                                                                               
Senator Roger Holland                                                                                                           
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented the sectional analysis for SB 132                                                               
on behalf of the sponsor.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR. RACHEL BERNGARTT, Chair                                                                                                     
Alaska State Board of Veterinary Examiners                                                                                      
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Co-presented Why It Makes Sense to Exempt                                                                 
Veterinarians.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR. TRACY WARD, President                                                                                                       
Alaska State Veterinary Medical Association                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Co-presented Why It Makes Sense to Exempt                                                                 
Veterinarians.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SARA CHAMBERS, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing                                                                  
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on SB 132.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR. SARAH COBURN, Board Member-at-Large                                                                                         
Alaska Veterinary Medical Association                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified by invitation on SB 132.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. JAMES DELKER, representing self                                                                                             
Alaska State Veterinary Association                                                                                             
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified by invitation on SB 132.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. MARY ANN HOLLICK, representing self                                                                                         
Eagle River, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 132.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR. MCKAYLA DICK, former President                                                                                              
Alaska State Veterinary Medical Association                                                                                     
North Pole, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified by invitation on SB 132.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
dr. ARIANNA ANDERSON, representing self                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 132.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR. JON BASLER, Medical Director                                                                                                
College Village Animal Clinic                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 132.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ZACK FIELDS,                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislator                                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As Co-Chair  presented HB  133 on  behalf of                                                             
the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TRISTAN WALSH, Staff                                                                                                            
Representative Zack Fields                                                                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented the sectional analysis for HB 133.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CATHY TAYLOR, Board Member                                                                                                      
Alaska Behavioral Health                                                                                                        
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified by invitation on HB 133.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DAN SADLER, former state Representative                                                                                         
Eagle River, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified by invitation on HB 133.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:47:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DAVID WILSON  called the Senate Health  and Social Services                                                             
Standing Committee meeting  to order at 1:47 p.m.  Present at the                                                               
call to order  were Senators Reinbold, Begich,  and Chair Wilson.                                                               
Senators Hughes and Costello arrived shortly thereafter.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
        SB 132-CONTROLLED SUB. DATA: EXEMPT VETERINARIAN                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:48:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON announced  the consideration of SENATE  BILL NO. 132                                                               
"An  Act exempting  veterinarians  from the  requirements of  the                                                               
controlled substance prescription database."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:48:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO and SENATOR HUGHES joined the committee.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:48:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ROGER HOLLAND Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska,                                                                 
sponsor of SB 132, introduced the legislation by reading the                                                                    
sponsor statement:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska's  25th  legislature  created  the  Prescription                                                                    
     Drug   Monitoring   Program   (PDMP)   in   2008.   The                                                                    
     legislative  intent behind  the  PDMP was  to create  a                                                                    
     database of prescriptions  for controlled substances in                                                                    
     the   state.  The   PDMP  may   create  obstacles   for                                                                    
     individuals   seeking   opioids  to   obtain   multiple                                                                    
     prescriptions from  registered providers  and may  be a                                                                    
     useful tool  for human doctors in  combating the opioid                                                                    
     crisis.   Under   the  current   statutory   framework,                                                                    
     Alaska's veterinarians  are required to  participate in                                                                    
     the  PDMP,   despite  the   irreconcilable  differences                                                                    
     between  human and  veterinary medical  practice. PDMPs                                                                    
     have been implemented  in all 50 states,  but 34 states                                                                    
     have   recognized  the   unsuitability  of   veterinary                                                                    
     participation in  the PDMP and  exempted veterinarians.                                                                    
     SB 132 would add Alaska to that list.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     The majority  of states exempt veterinarians  from PDMP                                                                    
     because they  have recognized  that PDMPs  are designed                                                                    
     for  use in  human medicine;  and veterinary  exclusion                                                                    
     from  PDMPs  does  not increase  risk  to  the  public.                                                                    
     Alaska's  inclusion of  veterinarians in  the PDMP  has                                                                    
     produced  no identifiable  benefit;  yet  the PDMP  has                                                                    
     created  a   multitude  of  verifiable  harms   to  the                                                                    
     veterinary profession and the  Alaskans they serve. The                                                                    
     PDMP is  inappropriate and not  effective for  use with                                                                    
     animal  patients, as  animals do  not have  identifiers                                                                    
     such  as a  social security  number, and  veterinarians                                                                    
     must  view human  owners'  private  health data  before                                                                    
     treating an animal.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska  has the  highest veterinary  licensure cost  in                                                                    
     the  United  States.  Veterinary participation  in  the                                                                    
     PDMP contributes  to this unnecessary  financial burden                                                                    
     on a  profession already experiencing  extreme staffing                                                                    
     shortages,   decreasing   availability  of   veterinary                                                                    
     services to  Alaskans. Moreover, a recent  survey found                                                                    
     attempted veterinary doctor  shopping across the entire                                                                    
     United States is essentially non-existent.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Veterinarians  are   tightly  regulated  by   the  Drug                                                                    
     Enforcement  Agency, the  Know Your  Customer Act,  and                                                                    
     the State licensing  board. SB 132 seeks  to correct an                                                                    
     expensive overreach  so that  Alaskans can  have access                                                                    
     to  treatment  for   their  pets  without  compromising                                                                    
     public safety.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:51:50 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH thanked  the sponsor for introducing  the bill and                                                               
relayed that he reviewed the  evidence and changed his mind about                                                               
requiring veterinarians  to participate in the  Prescription Drug                                                               
Monitoring Program  (PDMP). Clearly  it is an  unnecessary burden                                                               
and does not serve the intended purpose.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:52:49 PM                                                                                                                    
NIKKI ROSE, Staff, Senator Roger Holland, Alaska State                                                                          
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, read the sectional analysis for SB
132:                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
[Original punctuation provided with minor formatting changes.]                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 1                                                                                                                   
     AS 17.30.200(o),  relating to the  controlled substance                                                                    
     prescription  database,  is  amended  by  deleting  the                                                                    
     Board  of   Veterinary  Examiners  from  the   list  of                                                                    
     required notification  by the Board of  Pharmacy when a                                                                    
     practitioner registers with the database.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 2                                                                                                                   
     Adds  veterinarians to  the list  of practitioners  not                                                                    
     required  to  comply   with  the  controlled  substance                                                                    
     prescription database under AS 17.30.200(t).                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 3                                                                                                                   
     Adds a definition of "practitioner" to AS 17.30.200(u)                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 4                                                                                                                   
     Repeals AS 08.98.050(a)(10),  which obligates the board                                                                    
     of  veterinary   examiners  to  require   licensees  to                                                                    
     register  with  the controlled  substance  prescription                                                                    
     database.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:54:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON turned to invited testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:54:35 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:54:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  reconvened the meeting  and asked Dr.  Berngartt to                                                               
proceed.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:55:09 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  RACHEL BERNGARTT,  Chair, Alaska  State Board  of Veterinary                                                               
Examiners,  Department   of  Commerce,  Community   and  Economic                                                               
Development  (DCCED),   Juneau,  Alaska   stated  that   she  has                                                               
practiced veterinary  medicine in Alaska  for 20 years in  a wide                                                               
variety of fields.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR.  TRACY  WARD,  President,  Alaska  State  Veterinary  Medical                                                               
Association,  Juneau,  Alaska,  stated  that  she  has  practiced                                                               
veterinary  medicine for  32  years in  several  fields and  also                                                               
spent considerable  time in the  pharmaceutical industry.  She is                                                               
currently a small animal practitioner  and in several months will                                                               
transition to a shelter veterinarian.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR. WARD  stated that  both the  Alaska State  Veterinary Medical                                                               
Association  and   the  Alaska  Board  of   Veterinary  Examiners                                                               
strongly support SB 132. As  the sponsor indicated, Alaska's PDMP                                                               
was  established  in 2008.  In  response  to the  growing  opioid                                                               
epidemic, the PDMP  was amended in 2017  to require participation                                                               
by  all  federal  Drug Enforcement  Administration  (DEA)  permit                                                               
holders,   including   veterinarians.  Veterinarians   were   not                                                               
consulted when the amendment was proposed.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:57:06 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. WARD  stated that the PDMP  is not an effective  database for                                                               
veterinarians.  It was  established  for human  medicine and  the                                                               
software does not interface with  the recordkeeping software that                                                               
veterinarians  use.   Querying  and   downloading  data   is  not                                                               
automatic  for  veterinarians and  the  data  is based  on  human                                                               
identifiers such a Social Security  number or date of birth. This                                                               
caused some  confusion before it became  clear that veterinarians                                                               
were supposed to query the  animal owner's prescription data when                                                               
they prescribed  a controlled substance  for the animal.  This is                                                               
despite  the  fact   that  the  information  is   not  useful  to                                                               
veterinarians because they are not  trained in human medicine and                                                               
dosages do not translate from one  field to the other. The data a                                                               
veterinarian  enters  into the  PDMP  for  an animal  patient  is                                                               
similarly not useful for a medical doctor.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR. WARD  pointed out that it  is also an invasion  of the animal                                                               
owner's  medical  privacy  to have  a  veterinarian  query  their                                                               
personal medical data in the  PDMP. This creates an uncomfortable                                                               
situation because the  client is not a  patient and veterinarians                                                               
are  not trained  in or  bound  by the  federal Health  Insurance                                                               
Portability  and Accountability  Act  (HIPPA)  Privacy Rule.  She                                                               
directed attention  to the  list of medications  on slide  5 that                                                               
medical  doctors  may have  prescribed  for  their client's  that                                                               
veterinarians have no use for but are able to see.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:00:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  stated that  he  found  this point  particularly                                                               
compelling because  it was not the  intent of the 2017  change to                                                               
the  PDMP law.  Veterinarians who  are  not bound  by HIPAA  have                                                               
access  to  the animal  owner's  private  prescription data  that                                                               
their medical doctor entered into  the PDMP. He described this as                                                               
an unintended consequence.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  REINBOLD  recalled  that  she voted  "No"  on  the  2017                                                               
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WARD explained  that while  the 2017  legislation sought  to                                                               
address  growing opioid  abuse, the  PDMP was  never intended  to                                                               
prevent  the diversion  of controlled  substances to  the illicit                                                               
market.  It was  intended to  prevent individuals  from going  to                                                               
multiple  doctors and  later veterinarians  to access  controlled                                                               
substances  for  their own  use  or  for diversion.  Backdoor  or                                                               
diversion sales  are never  entered into the  PDMP. She  said the                                                               
PDMP  is strictly  intended for  shopping.  The Drug  Enforcement                                                               
Agency (DEA)  is primarily responsible for  preventing diversion.                                                               
Veterinarians  who prescribe  or  dispense controlled  substances                                                               
are  licensed  through   the  DEA  and  must   adhere  to  strict                                                               
accountability,   record   keeping,    and   medication   storage                                                               
requirements.  Those records  must  be available  to  the DEA  on                                                               
demand  and  local  law enforcement  agencies  may  also  request                                                               
access.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR.   WARD   continued   to  explain   that   manufacturers   and                                                               
distributors   of  controlled   substances  are   bound  by   the                                                               
Suspicious   Order  Monitoring   System.  These   companies  must                                                               
monitor,  flag,  and  report a  veterinarian's  unusual  purchase                                                               
patterns  to the  DEA.  She  drew a  parallel  to  a credit  card                                                               
company   calling  clients   to  ask   about  unusual/potentially                                                               
fraudulent charges  on their  card. She said  the DEA  is already                                                               
providing oversight of veterinarians and  this is the most common                                                               
way that diversion situations are identified.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR. WARD deferred to Dr. Berngartt to continue the presentation.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:04:52 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BERNGARTT turned  to slide  7  and restated  that 34  states                                                               
already  have exempted  veterinarians from  participating in  the                                                               
PDMP  and no  problems have  been identified.  Public health  and                                                               
safety  protections have  not  decreased and  there  has been  no                                                               
demonstrated  increase   in  doctor   shopping  or   decrease  in                                                               
diversions.  Exempting   Alaskan  veterinarians  from   the  PDMP                                                               
requirements makes sense, she said.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:06:22 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BERNGARTT reported  that veterinarians  prescribe less  than                                                               
one   percent  of   the  opioids   prescribed   by  all   medical                                                               
professionals  in  Alaska.  That  one percent  does  not  include                                                               
fentanyl,  heroin,  or  methadone  because these  drugs  are  not                                                               
prescribed  in  veterinary  practice.  This  is  consistent  with                                                               
nationwide data.  Further, the  one percent  is not  comprised of                                                               
the drugs  that significantly contribute to  addiction, overdose,                                                               
and accidental death.  She also described the  natural barrier to                                                               
veterinary shopping  that hospitals  do not enjoy.  Hospitals are                                                               
required  to treat  all patients  regardless of  ability to  pay,                                                               
whereas animal  owners must pay  up front  for the care,  even if                                                               
they have pet  insurance. She described a  typical appointment to                                                               
demonstrate that veterinarians are  a poor choice for individuals                                                               
who  are  trying  to  score   opioids  or  other  more  dangerous                                                               
controlled  substances. She  emphasized that  there have  been no                                                               
identified  cases of  veterinary shopping  in Alaska  through the                                                               
PDMP.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:10:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON asked her to be cognizant of the time.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BERNGARTT highlighted  that  investigative costs  associated                                                               
with the  PDMP are very  burdensome to veterinarians.  The Alaska                                                               
Board  of   Veterinary  Examiners  is  mandated   to  investigate                                                               
veterinarians  who do  not  comply with  the  requirement of  the                                                               
Prescription Drug  Monitoring Program. She directed  attention to                                                               
the  chart on  slide  9  that shows  that  the  board's costs  to                                                               
investigate  PDMP violations  rose exponentially  from FY2017  to                                                               
FY2021.  She   clarified  that   these  are   not  investigations                                                               
involving negligence or bad behavior.  Rather, they are technical                                                               
violations that  reflect the difficulty associated  with using an                                                               
unusable system.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BERNGARTT highlighted  that  the veterinary  board is  self-                                                               
supporting  so it  is the  licensees who  pay when  investigative                                                               
costs go  up. Alaska already  has the highest licensing  fees for                                                               
veterinarians in the country. There  is already a severe shortage                                                               
of  veterinarians  and  veterinary technicians  in  the  country,                                                               
particularly in  Alaska. She emphasized  that the actual  risk of                                                               
veterinary   shortage  to   public  health   far  outweighs   the                                                               
theoretical risk of exempting veterinarians from the PDMP.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BERNGARTT  concluded  the  presentation  by  recounting  the                                                               
advantages of  exempting veterinarians from participating  in the                                                               
PDMP. She paraphrased the following points:                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
      Will allow veterinarians to provide the appropriate,                                                                      
        timely, medical management appropriate for each                                                                         
     patient.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
      Will increase the efficiency of the PDMP system for                                                                       
         its intended purpose, by allowing for accurate                                                                         
     interpretation of data and trends in human medicine.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
        Will allow continued judicious use of controlled                                                                        
     substances that is already practiced by veterinarians.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
    Will   eliminate   unnecessary   and   disproportionate                                                                     
     business burdens for veterinarians.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. BERNGARTT identified  the PDMP as a tool in  the toolbox that                                                               
does not work for veterinarians.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:13:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON noted who was available to answer questions.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR REINBOLD  commented on the small  number of veterinarians                                                               
and veterinary  technicians in  the state  compared to  the large                                                               
number of animals. She voiced support for lightening their load.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:14:53 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON asked what the  potential decrease in licensing fees                                                               
would be, should SB 132 pass.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:15:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SARA CHAMBERS, Director, Division  of Corporations, Business, and                                                               
Professional  Licensing, Department  of  Commerce, Community  and                                                               
Economic Development,  Juneau, Alaska,  explained that  a federal                                                               
grant   pays  most   of  the   PDMP  costs   and  the   ancillary                                                               
investigative costs  are difficult to anticipate.  Therefore, the                                                               
division will need  to perform an annual analysis  to ensure that                                                               
program fees match the expenses.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
She related that  costs increased in 2022 because  a large number                                                               
of veterinarians were not using  the program and that triggered a                                                               
data investigation.  She said  that proved to  be an  anomaly and                                                               
the division changed some processes...                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON noted the call was  dropped and suggested she try to                                                               
call again.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:16:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  asked for confirmation  that veterinarians  do have                                                               
access to  dangerous medications such  as Propofo, but it  is not                                                               
prescribed after a procedure.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR. WARD  answered that  is correct.  The majority  of controlled                                                               
substances are  administered to the  animal in the  clinic either                                                               
as  pre-operative  anesthetic  or  post-operative  pain  control.                                                               
Propofo would not be sent home with the animal.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:17:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON opened invited testimony on SB 132.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR.  SARAH  COBURN,   Board  Member-at-Large,  Alaska  Veterinary                                                               
Medical Association, Anchorage, Alaska,  stated that she has been                                                               
a veterinarian for 13 years and  she worked in the profession for                                                               
10 before that.  She described SB 132 as good  public policy that                                                               
has broad bipartisan  support. She said the PDMP  was designed to                                                               
identify  doctor shopping  by humans  who are  seeking controlled                                                               
substances   and   it   was  a   broad   oversight   to   include                                                               
veterinarians.  The  mandates  are   not  relevant  and  have  no                                                               
practical  utility  in  fighting   opioid  abuse.  She  suggested                                                               
letting  the  PDMP  do  what  it does  well  in  human  medicine.                                                               
Veterinarians will continue to practice  in accordance with state                                                               
and federal  laws, professional  ethics, and  national guidelines                                                               
when  prescribing controlled  substances for  animals. She  urged                                                               
the committee to pass SB 132.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:20:33 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. JAMES DELKER, Legislative  Liaison, Alaska Veterinary Medical                                                               
Association  (AVMA),   Soldotna,  Alaska,  stated  that   he  has                                                               
practiced veterinary  medicine for  more than  25 years  and with                                                               
his wife  has owned a practice  for 19 years. He  related that he                                                               
has  served  as an  unpaid  volunteer  on the  Alaska  Veterinary                                                               
Medical Association board since 2010.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR.  DELKER stated  that AVMA  identified numerous  problems with                                                               
the PDMP and attempted to share  those concerns with the Board of                                                               
Pharmacy  during  their November  21,  2013  meeting. During  his                                                               
testimony he asked how veterinarians  could be expected to comply                                                               
with a  system that was  based on  human identifiers. He  said he                                                               
cited a  study from Minnesota  that documented minute  amounts of                                                               
[veterinary] doctor shopping in a  more populated state with many                                                               
more veterinarians. His testimony also  pointed out that the PDMP                                                               
database would only collect useless  data from veterinarians that                                                               
were forced  to participate. The  board subsequently  decided not                                                               
to support veterinarians'  view on the issue but  no details were                                                               
given for the decision.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR. DELKER stated  that eight years has passed and  the issues he                                                               
presented are  still problematic. Veterinarians have  never had a                                                               
seat at  the table in any  facet of the development  of the PDMP,                                                               
although they have articulated the  pitfalls from the outset. The                                                               
result  is  that veterinarians  are  burdened  with daily  manual                                                               
reporting  even on  days that  they do  not prescribe  controlled                                                               
substances. He  reported that some  veterinarians found  that the                                                               
data  they entered  did not  show up  in the  system when  it was                                                               
accessed for a  subsequent prescription. This is a  waste of time                                                               
and shows a lack of  respect for these licensed professionals. He                                                               
asked the committee to remove  the PDMP burden from veterinarians                                                               
by passing SB 132.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR REINBOLD  thanked Dr. Delker  for his  volunteer services                                                               
and dedication.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:25:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON opened public testimony on SB 132.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR.  MARY ANN  HOLLICK, representing  self, Eagle  River, Alaska,                                                               
asked the committee to support SB  132 because it makes sense and                                                               
is good  public policy. She  related that she previously  owned a                                                               
veterinary    practice   and    currently   represents    Alaskan                                                               
veterinarians  on the  American  Veterinary Medical  Association.                                                               
She  stated that  veterinarians treat  animals and  the PDMP  was                                                               
created for the human healthcare  system. In 34 years of practice                                                               
seeing thousands of patients, she said  she has not seen any drug                                                               
shopping  behavior. She  also  pointed out  that  34 states  have                                                               
already exempted  veterinarians from the PDMP.  Opioids generally                                                               
are not  the veterinarian's  drug of  choice and  commonly abused                                                               
drugs are  not sent home with  the animal and owner.  She said it                                                               
is  important for  Alaska  animal owners  to  understand that  if                                                               
their   animal  needs   a  controlled   substance  dispensed   or                                                               
prescribed, the  PDMP requires  the veterinarian  to look  at the                                                               
pet owner's  personal, private history  of controlled  drugs even                                                               
though that information  is not relevant to the  treatment of the                                                               
animal. It  also has  no practical utility  in the  fight against                                                               
opioid abuse. She asked the committee to pass SB 132.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:27:11 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  MCKAYLA  DICK,  former President,  Alaska  State  Veterinary                                                               
Medical Association,  North Pole,  Alaska, stated  that she  is a                                                               
mixed  animal practitioner  who also  does emergency  and shelter                                                               
medicine. She  stated that for  multiple reasons the PDMP  is not                                                               
suitable  for veterinary  medicine.  It was  designed to  monitor                                                               
drug shopping by  humans, which is nonexistent  in the veterinary                                                               
profession. When animal patients are  prescribed an opioid, it is                                                               
a tiny  dose and is not  the opioids that are  causing overdosing                                                               
in  humans.  When  an  opioid is  administered  in  a  veterinary                                                               
hospital, the drug  does not go home. She  said veterinarians are                                                               
under  strict  guidance  by  the  DEA  and  Board  of  Veterinary                                                               
Examiners  and  they  work  closely  with  local  animal  control                                                               
agencies. She  described the  requirement to  look at  an owner's                                                               
private prescription  drug information  as awkward  and increased                                                               
work. Ultimately  it will  be costly  to license  holders because                                                               
the  federal  grants  will  not   last  forever.  She  asked  the                                                               
committee to join the other 34 states and pass SB 132.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:30:02 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. ARIANNA  ANDERSON, representing self, Juneau,  Alaska, stated                                                               
that  she is  a substitute  and relief  veterinarian who  travels                                                               
throughout  Alaska.   She  offered  her  belief   that  the  PDMP                                                               
requirement for  veterinarians is  potentially harmful  to animal                                                               
owners and  definitely burdensome and useless  for veterinarians.                                                               
She explained  that when she  prescribes a controlled drug  to an                                                               
animal she  is supposed  to look at  the owner's  private medical                                                               
information  in   the  PDMP   database.  This   is  inappropriate                                                               
according  to HIPAA  and if  she sees  they have  controlled drug                                                               
prescriptions  she is  not trained  to evaluate  the information.                                                               
She noted  that an owner  may have more difficulty  getting their                                                               
own prescriptions  filled if their  pet was prescribed  a similar                                                               
controlled  substance.  She  said  it takes  time  to  enter  the                                                               
prescription data  into the  PDMP and she  is required  to report                                                               
even if  she does  not write prescriptions  every day.  Like many                                                               
veterinarians  she  has  chosen  to dispense  just  72  hours  of                                                               
medication to  avoid the reporting  requirement even  though many                                                               
patients need more.  She related that veterinarians  are in short                                                               
supply statewide, but particularly in  Juneau, and the time spent                                                               
on the PDMP when it provides  no benefit to the animal means more                                                               
sick patients and worried clients  will be turned away. She asked                                                               
the  committee  to  support the  exemption  of  veterinarians  by                                                               
passing SB 132.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:32:26 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. JON BASLER, Medical Director,  College Village Animal Clinic,                                                               
Anchorage,  Alaska, related  that the  clinic has  three fulltime                                                               
veterinarians   and   two  who   work   part   time.  They   have                                                               
conscientiously complied with the  Alaska PDMP requirements since                                                               
2017.  This is  despite the  fact that  the database  provides no                                                               
useful information  for the clinic's  patients or  in identifying                                                               
or avoiding  inappropriate use by  the animal owners. He  said it                                                               
took  several years  of  actively  recording patient  information                                                               
before  the data  started  to show  in  future queries.  Further,                                                               
despite having medical  records that show a patient  was seen and                                                               
had  received prescriptions  in another  clinic, the  information                                                               
never shows  in a  PDMP query.  He stated  that the  DEA requires                                                               
veterinarians to extensively document  and control any drugs that                                                               
are  prescribed  or  dispensed.   Recordkeeping  is  done  daily,                                                               
verified  weekly,  and  clinically  crosschecked  anytime  a  new                                                               
bottle  of drug  is  opened. Complete  inventories are  conducted                                                               
quarterly. All  controlled drugs  are ordered  under his  DEA and                                                               
veterinary  licenses   and  he   maintains  tight   control.  The                                                               
prescribing veterinarians  do the verification with  the PDMP. He                                                               
said the PDMP  requires daily reporting by each  provider even if                                                               
they do not dispense any  controlled drug. He now prescribes less                                                               
effective  drugs  and shorter  prescription  times  to avoid  the                                                               
reporting burdens and risks.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
He noted that the veterinarian  pharmacy board has said there are                                                               
enough  licensed technicians  to do  this  work but  that is  not                                                               
accurate. There is a critical  shortage of both veterinarians and                                                               
veterinary  technicians.   He  shared   that  in  3.5   years  of                                                               
advertising for  a technician  the clinic  has received  just one                                                               
application.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BASLER encouraged  the committee  to  pass SB  132. He  also                                                               
advocated for the expansion of  the UA MatSu Veterinary Assistant                                                               
Program into a full veterinary technology program.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BASLER concluded  his  testimony stating  that  the PDMP  is                                                               
ineffective  for   veterinary  patients  and  their   owners,  is                                                               
burdensome, and is of little benefit in preventing diversion.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:36:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON closed public testimony on SB 132.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON advised  that the  committee  would accept  written                                                               
comments on SB 132 at shss@akleg.gov until Monday at 5:00 p.m.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  asked Sara Chamber  to respond to  Senator Begich's                                                               
question.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:37:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  asked  if  any of  the  investigations  on  PDMP                                                               
violations indicated  misuse of a controlled  substance. He noted                                                               
that  in  2017  when  the  Alaska PDMP  was  amended  to  include                                                               
veterinarians the assumption was that this might happen.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:37:48 PM                                                                                                                    
SARA  CHAMBERS stated  that  she would  follow  up with  specific                                                               
data,  but  she did  not  recall  an  instance  since 2017  of  a                                                               
violation  of  a  controlled  substance   by  a  veterinarian  or                                                               
veterinary technician.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH  noted the  heads  nodding  that supported  those                                                               
comments.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:38:50 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HOLLAND  thanked the committee  for hearing the  bill and                                                               
opined that 34 other states cannot be wrong.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  asked members  to submit  any amendments  by Monday                                                               
February 7 at 5:00 p.m.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
He held SB 132 in committee.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:39:42 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
           HB 133-AK ED SAVINGS PROGRAMS/ELIGIBILITY                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:41:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   WILSON  reconvened   the   meeting   and  announced   the                                                               
consideration  of SENATE  BILL NO.  133 "An  Act relating  to the                                                               
sale  or  lease of  state  land  for remote  recreational  sites;                                                               
relating to permits for remote  recreational sites; and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:41:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ZACK  FIELDS,  Alaska State  Legislator,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska,  speaking as  co-chair of  the House  Labor and  Commerce                                                               
Standing  Committee,  described  HB  133 as  a  team  effort.  He                                                               
advised  that the  presentation  would include  the substance  as                                                               
well as related history of the legislation.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS explained  that  ABLE is  the acronym  for                                                               
Achieving  a Better  Life Experience  Act. An  ABLE account  is a                                                               
tax-free   savings  account   for  individuals   with  qualifying                                                               
disabilities. Funds deposited  to the account may be  used to pay                                                               
for items  such as disability  expenses, education,  housing, and                                                               
transportation.  Further,  deposits  into  the  account  are  not                                                               
counted  against an  individual  in  determining eligibility  for                                                               
Medicaid and  needs-based assistance  programs. The  intention is                                                               
to help  people with disabilities  work, support  themselves, and                                                               
live as independently as possible.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:42:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS  stated that  the  ABLE  Act of  2013  was                                                               
signed   into  federal   law   in   December  2014.   Thereafter,                                                               
Representative   Saddler    and   Senator    Giessel   introduced                                                               
legislation  to establish  ABLE accounts  in Alaska.  He reported                                                               
that since the legislation passed  [in 2016], 787 Alaska families                                                               
have established ABLE accounts. About  180 of those accounts were                                                               
opened since  HB 133 was  heard last, and  the assets in  all the                                                               
accounts  totals $7  million. He  recognized Pam  Leary with  the                                                               
Department of  Revenue (DOR) who  has overseen the  program since                                                               
its inception.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS relayed that  since the initial law passed,                                                               
the federal government updated and  expanded ABLE authorities. He                                                               
noted that  one of the  changes increased the  contribution level                                                               
[for  employed  beneficiaries]  from $15,000  to  [$27,060].  The                                                               
federal  law  also  allowed college  saving  account  funds  [529                                                               
accounts] to roll over into  ABLE accounts. Additionally, the age                                                               
of eligibility for  an ABLE account was increased from  26 to 46.                                                               
He described the  latter change as sensible  because a disability                                                               
can occur at any time.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:45:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS summarized that  updates proposed in HB 133                                                               
conform to federal law by:  expanding the age eligibility limits;                                                               
allowing  greater   flexibility  in   using  funds  to   pay  for                                                               
educational expenses; allowing 529  program accounts to roll into                                                               
an ABLE account; and aligning  with federal regulations regarding                                                               
program savings accounts                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:46:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WILSON noted  who was  available to  answer questions.  He                                                               
asked Mr. Walsh to walk through the sectional analysis.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:46:29 PM                                                                                                                    
TRISTAN WALSH,  Staff, Representative  Zack Fields,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, provided  a summary of the sectional                                                               
analysis for HB 133. The full analysis read as follows:                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
[Original punctuation provided with some formatting changes.]                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Section 1 Establishes AS 06.65.020(b).                                                                                   
     Directs the  Department of  Health and  Social Services                                                                    
     to consult with the  Governor's Council on Disabilities                                                                    
     and  Special  Education   when  overseeing  the  Alaska                                                                    
     Savings Program.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Section 2 Amends AS 06.65.100.                                                                                           
     Expands the  age of eligibility  for a  program account                                                                    
     from age  26 to match  that in the  federal authorizing                                                                    
     law.  This   effectively  removes   an  age   cap  that                                                                    
     prevented those  who became disabled after  26 years of                                                                    
     age from being eligible.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:47:40 PM                                                                                                                    
     Section 3 Amends AS 06.65.160(a).                                                                                        
     Expands  the   rules  allowing  a  person   to  make  a                                                                    
     contribution for a designated  beneficiary to match the                                                                    
     guidelines in AS 14.40.802(f)(3).                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Section 4 Amends AS 06.65.160(c).                                                                                        
     Expands the rules  regarding who is eligible  to make a                                                                    
     program  account contribution  to match  the guidelines                                                                    
     in AS 14.40.802(f)(3).                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Section 5 Amends AS 06.65.200(a).                                                                                        
     Specifies  that rollover  may occur  between a  program                                                                    
     account to another  account as long as  the new account                                                                    
     is authorized by federal law.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Section 6 Amends AS 09.38.015(a)(8).                                                                                     
     Replaces  "higher   education"  savings   account  with                                                                    
     "education savings account".                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Section 7 Amends AS 14.10.170(a).                                                                                        
     Replaces  "postsecondary  education"  with  "education"                                                                    
     when  referring to  an  education  savings account  and                                                                    
     renames the "Alaska Higher  Education Savings Trust" to                                                                    
     the "Education Trust of Alaska".                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Section 8 Amends AS 14.40.802(a).                                                                                        
     Renames the "Alaska Higher  Education Savings Trust" to                                                                    
     the   "Education   Trust   of  Alaska"   and   replaces                                                                    
     "postsecondary   education"   with   "education"   when                                                                    
     referring  to education  savings accounts.  Removes the                                                                    
     allowance that  education savings accounts can  be used                                                                    
     to  pay  for  room  and  board  when  using  funds  for                                                                    
     education costs  as this  language is  included already                                                                    
     included federal law.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Section 9 Establishes AS 14.40.802(f)(3).                                                                                
     Allows  a  participant  of an  account  to  change  the                                                                    
     beneficiary  of their  account to  any individual,  not                                                                    
     just a  family member. Allows participants  to transfer                                                                    
     all or a portion of  their account as a contribution to                                                                    
     another account  if it does  not exceed  federal limits                                                                    
     when added  to any other  contributions and is  for the                                                                    
     beneficiary of that new account  or for a family member                                                                    
     who is an eligible individual as well.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Section 10 Amends AS 14.40.802(g).                                                                                       
     Makes transfers between  accounts limitable or deniable                                                                    
     if   the  transfer   does  not   meet  the   guidelines                                                                    
     established in AS 14.40.802(f)(3).                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:48:26 PM                                                                                                                    
     Section 11 Amends AS 14.40.802(j).                                                                                       
     Removes  the   restriction  that  when   a  beneficiary                                                                    
     designates  a successor  participant  to their  account                                                                    
     the change cannot take effect  until after the death or                                                                    
     mental incapacity of the beneficiary.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Section 12 Amends AS 14.40.802(n)(2).                                                                                    
     Redefines "beneficiary" to match  what is defined under                                                                    
     federal law.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Section 13 Amends AS 14.40.802(n)(7).                                                                                    
     Replaces  "qualified  higher education  expenses"  with                                                                    
     "qualified  education   expenses"  and   redefines  the                                                                    
     phrase to  mean qualified higher education  expenses as                                                                    
     defined in federal law.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Section 14 Amends AS 14.40.802(n)(8).                                                                                    
     Redefines  "trust"  to  reflect   the  name  change  of                                                                    
     "Alaska   Higher  Education   Savings  Trust"   to  the                                                                    
     "Education Trust of Alaska".                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Section 15 Amends AS 14.40.809(b).                                                                                       
     Renames the "Alaska Higher  Education Savings Trust" to                                                                    
     the "Education Trust of Alaska".                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Section 16 Amends AS 40.25.120(a).                                                                                       
     Renames the "Alaska Higher  Education Savings Trust" to                                                                    
     the "Education Trust of Alaska".                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Section 17 Amends AS 47.10.093(b).                                                                                       
     Removes  the  distinction   of  higher  education  when                                                                    
     referring to the Alaska education savings program.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Section 18 Amends AS 47.12.310(b).                                                                                       
     Removes  the  distinction   of  higher  education  when                                                                    
     referring to the Alaska education savings program.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Section 19 Amends AS 47.14.400(a).                                                                                       
     Removes  the  distinction   of  higher  education  when                                                                    
     referring  to  an   education  investment  program  and                                                                    
     replaces  "University of  Alaska college  savings plan"                                                                    
     with "education savings plan".                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Section 20 Amends AS 47.14.400(b).                                                                                       
     Removes  the  distinction   of  higher  education  when                                                                    
     referring to an education investment program.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Section 21 Amends AS 47.14.400(c).                                                                                       
     Replaces   "college  savings   plan"  with   "education                                                                    
     savings  plan"  and   replaces  "University  of  Alaska                                                                    
     College savings plan" with "education savings plan".                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Section 22 Amends  AS 47.14.400(e)(3). Replaces "higher                                                                  
     education  savings  program"  with  "education  savings                                                                    
     program" and "college  savings account" with "education                                                                    
     savings plan".                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Section  23  Establishes  AS  47.14.400(e)(5).  Defines                                                                  
     "education savings  plan" to mean an  education savings                                                                    
     program.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Section 24 Repeals AS 47.14.400(e)(2).                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:49:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON turned to invited testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:49:55 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHY  TAYLOR, Board  Member,  Alaska  Behavioral Health,  Kenai,                                                               
Alaska, stated  that she has  served on  the board for  more than                                                               
ten  years. She  has  two  sons with  disabilities  and the  ABLE                                                               
program  has  been  very  beneficial  but  the  $2,000  limit  on                                                               
resources has made  it difficult for family and  friends to offer                                                               
support to help her sons be more self-sufficient.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:51:36 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  TAYLOR  stated  that raising  the  contribution  level  from                                                               
$15,000  to $27,060  has been  helpful for  one of  her sons  who                                                               
experiences  mental illness  and finds  it difficult  to maintain                                                               
employment.  With  the higher  limit,  he  will  be able  to  put                                                               
additional funds aside when he is  working so he can draw on them                                                               
in  the future  if he  is no  longer employed.  It will  help him                                                               
maintain a measure of independence.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
She stated support for the  provision that allows rolling college                                                               
savings into  an ABLE  account. She explained  that the  onset of                                                               
mental  illness often  is  in a  person's 20s  when  they are  in                                                               
college. If their college funds  are rolled into an ABLE account,                                                               
they will  be able to use  them to help stabilize  their life and                                                               
get back  on their education track  if that is what  they want to                                                               
do.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  TAYLOR  agreed  with  the  sponsor that  it  made  sense  to                                                               
increase the  age of eligibility for  an ABLE account from  26 to                                                               
46 because disability  can strike at any time.  She mentioned the                                                               
flexibility  to pay  for higher  education and  offered her  view                                                               
that it  may be  easier to  get one's  arms around  vocational or                                                               
associate degree  programs than  a four-year degree  program. But                                                               
in  any  event, the  flexibility  allows  someone to  keep  their                                                               
resources then use them when they get back on their feet.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. TAYLOR shared that she has  been able to incorporate the ABLE                                                               
accounts for  her sons into  her estate planning and  the changes                                                               
reflected in SB 133 will make  the program even better for people                                                               
experiencing disability to improve their life situation.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:56:12 PM                                                                                                                    
DAN  SADLER,  former  Representative, Alaska  State  Legislature,                                                               
Eagle  River, Alaska,  reminded the  committee that  he sponsored                                                               
the original  legislation in 2016 that  authorized ABLE accounts.                                                               
He shared  that he supported ABLE  as a legislator and  a parent.                                                               
His son  Danny has  autism and  at age  23 is  transitioning into                                                               
adult  life.   He  needs  special  behavioral   support,  special                                                               
equipment  for  his  physical  needs,  supplementary  educational                                                               
services, employment  support services, and  healthy recreational                                                               
outlets.  He said  these are  qualified disability  expenses that                                                               
will help  him achieve a  better life experience.  He highlighted                                                               
how important it is that deposits  into an ABLE account would not                                                               
disqualify his son from Medicaid  or Supplemental Social Security                                                               
(SSI) benefits,  because both  are critical  in meeting  his life                                                               
needs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER opined  that that  ABLE accounts  clearly                                                               
have  been successful  in Alaska.  According to  a report  in the                                                               
bill  packets, there  are 787  ABLE  accounts in  Alaska and  the                                                               
private  distributions to  those accounts  totals $7  million. He                                                               
posited that this  has kept many individual  from seeking support                                                               
from the  state. He  mentioned the  other conforming  changes and                                                               
described  HB 133  as  legislation that  makes  the existing  law                                                               
better.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
He concluded  his comments with the  observation that legislators                                                               
often are faced with how  to allocate limited public assets among                                                               
limitless needs. The value of HB  133 is that it empowers private                                                               
citizens to  use their  own money  to take  better care  of loved                                                               
ones without cost or burden to the state.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  thanked him for  his service  to the state  and his                                                               
testimony.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:00:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON held HB 133 in committee.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:01:14 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair  Wilson adjourned  the Senate  Health  and Social  Services                                                               
Standing Committee meeting at 3:01 p.m.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CSHB 133 Summary of Changes ver B to ver I 1.19.2022.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SHSS 2/8/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 133
CSHB 133 Supporting Document - 10 Things You Should Know About ABLE 1.19.2022.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SHSS 2/8/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 133
CSHB 133 Sponsor Presentation UPDATED 2.1.2022.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SHSS 2/8/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 133
CSHB 133 Supporting Document - IRS ABLE Accounts Info 1.19.2022.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SHSS 2/8/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 133
CSHB 133 Supporting Document - UA Press Release 1.19.2022.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SHSS 2/8/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 133
CSHB 133 ver I Sponsor Statement 1.19.2022.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SHSS 2/8/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 133
CSHB 133 Version I 1.19.2022.PDF SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SHSS 2/8/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 133
HB 133 ver B 1.19.2022.PDF SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 133
SB 132 AKVMA White Paper.pdf HHSS 4/19/2022 3:00:00 PM
HL&C 5/13/2022 9:00:00 AM
SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Fiscal Notes DCCED 2.1.22.pdf HHSS 4/19/2022 3:00:00 PM
SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 FN DCCED.pdf HHSS 4/19/2022 3:00:00 PM
SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Legislation version A.PDF SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Sectional Analysis.pdf SFIN 3/17/2022 9:00:00 AM
SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Sponsor Statement.pdf SFIN 3/17/2022 9:00:00 AM
SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Support Flyer.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Testimony 1- Received 2.1.22.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Testimony 2 Flyer PDMP 2.1.22.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Testimony 3 PDMP Flyer - Received 2.1.22.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Testimony 4- Recieved 1.23.22.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Testimony 5 -Received 2.1.22.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB132 Testimony 1.28.22.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
CSHB 133 Fiscal Note UA-SYSBRA 1.19.2022.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SHSS 2/8/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 133
CSHB 133 Sectional Analysis Ver I 1.31.2022.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SHSS 2/8/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 133
SB 132 Testimony Will McKenna, MD- Received 2.2.22.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 ppt.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132
SB 132 Testimony Bundle Received 2.2.22.pdf SHSS 2/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 132