Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/02/1993 01:35 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE February 2, 1993 1:35 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Tim Kelly, Chairman Senator Steve Rieger, Vice-Chairman Senator Drue Pearce Senator Judy Salo MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Georgianna Lincoln COMMITTEE CALENDAR CONFIRMATION HEARING: Commissioner Paul Fuhs SENATE BILL NO. 57 "An Act relating to employment contributions and to extending the pilot project for the state training and employment program; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 69 "An Act prohibiting employers from discriminating against individuals who use legal products in a legal manner outside of work." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 57 - NONE SB 69 - NONE WITNESS REGISTER Commissioner Paul Fuhs Department of Commerce & Economic Development P.O. Box 110800 Juneau, Alaska 99811-800 POSITION STATEMENT: Confirmation hearing. Sally Saddler, Program Manager Employment Services Division of Employment Security Department of Labor P.O. Box 25509 Juneau, Alaska 99802-5509 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 57. Judy Knight, Director Division of Employment Security Department of Labor P.O. Box 25509 Juneau, Alaska 99802-5509 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 57. Mike McMullen, Manager System Services Division of Personnel/EEO Department of Administration P.O. Box 110201 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0201 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 57. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-7, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN TIM KELLY called the Labor and Commerce Committee meeting to order at 1:35 p.m. The first order of business was the confirmation hearing for PAUL FUHS, presently acting Commissioner for the Department of Commerce and Economic Development, and MR. FUHS was invited to testify. He began by presenting his resume and expanding on his experience in organizing deals with municipalities and other industry groups to identify opportunities for Alaska. MR. FUHS stressed his ability to be fair in the development of business regulations, not to play favorites among business interests, and to foster cooperation within the departments and with other agencies. He listed the many departments in the Department of Commerce and Economic Development and emphasized the ability of the departments to work together on important projects. MR. FUHS offered as his references businesses, trade associations, labor unions, oil and gas industries, fishing organizations, native corporations and municipalities. SENATOR KELLY touted the publication, "Sustaining Alaska's Economy," drafted by the Department of Commerce and Economic Development and asked MR. FUHS where the premise was headed. SENATOR KELLY asked how the legislature could help. Number 062 MR. FUHS explained it was a specific project identification manual for the department, and he said people were assigned to projects in multi-agency work teams which helped to promote accountability from the bureaucracy. He praised the cooperation among the personnel at the Department of Commerce and Economic Development and other agencies in working on the projects. SENATOR KELLY thought the publication should be required reading. SENATOR SALO was impressed with the team approach and asked for the definition of multi-agency. MR. FUHS explained how it would operate with other departments and agencies such as the Alaska Railroad Corporation, the Alaska Energy Authority, and some of the independent governmental entities such as Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority organizations, which are run by boards. Questions from SENATOR SALO on his approach during his first six months on the job led to a general discussion with committee members and MR. FUHS about his implementation of the Northern Sea Route and the spruce beetle kill project on the Kenai Peninsula. SENATOR KELLY asked a follow-up question on the spruce beetle problems, and MR. FUHS said the permitting process was underway and other planning was being done, along with the upgrading of auxiliary facilities in Homer. SENATOR SALO asked about cutting the losses on the peninsula, and MR. FUHS predicted a strong timber industry would emerge from the beetle kill. Number 015 SENATOR KELLY concluded the confirmation hearing, thanked MR. FUHS, and moved on to the next bill. SENATOR KELLY introduced SB 57 (EXTEND S.T.E.P. PROGRAM TO 1996) and invited SANDY SADDLER from the Department of Labor to begin the testimony. Number 143 MS SADDLER explained SB 57 was an act that would extend the pilot project for the state training and employment program known as S.T.E.P. She reviewed the bill packet which contained three fiscal notes with the estimated revenues and expenditures for the training grants. MS SADDLER explained she was testifying on behalf of both the Department of Labor and the Department of Community and Regional Affairs. She began by giving background information on the program, a request for an extension, and the impact of the S.T.E.P. program on both departments during its existence. MS. SADDLER claimed the training program had broad based support from both labor and industry but explained more time was needed to evaluate the qualitative impact of the project. She gave three reasons for requesting the three year extension rather than a permanent program to allow for more evaluation of the program. Number 196 SENATOR RIEGER questioned the fiscal note and asked what happened if more funds were collected than used. MS SADDLER said she would need to check on his question. SENATOR RIEGER wanted to know what happened if the program collected less than used. JUDY KNIGHT, Director of the Division of Employment Security, explained the money was deposited into the general fund. It was then put into their account by the Division of Finance and the Department of Revenue. She said if more money was collected, it remained in the general fund, and only the appropriation could be spent. SENATOR RIEGER moved to pass SB 57 from committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. Without objections, so ordered. SENATOR KELLY introduced SB 69 (RIGHT TO USE LAWFUL PRODUCTS) and asked the prime sponsor, SENATOR TAYLOR, to testify on the bill. Number 229 SENATOR TAYLOR discussed the provisions of SB 69 which would prohibit "employers from discriminating against individuals who use legal products in a legal manner outside of work." He claimed it would strengthen the constitutional guarantee against discrimination by employers, and he reviewed the results of a survey showing that Alaskans have a growing concern about employer intrusion into their private lives. SENATOR TAYLOR said it was wrong for employers to prohibit the use of or deny employment to individuals using legal products in their off work time. He reported a poll in Alaska showing 91% of those polled thought it was inappropriate for employers to deny jobs for conduct away from the work place. SENATOR TAYLOR indicated SB 69 would not prohibit employers from passing increased costs for health benefits due to smoking or drinking on to their employees. He concluded by reading an editorial supporting the provisions of SB 69. SENATOR KELLY asked for a progress report on similar legislation in the last session. Several voices in the audience offered information and said it had been stopped in House Rules. SENATOR KELLY opened the bill to questions. Number 276 SENATOR SALO referred to page 2, section (c) of SB 69 to question the inclusion of "educational institution," which could allow a school district in the State of Alaska to ask teachers whether they smoke or drink off the job. SENATOR TAYLOR explained the provision was primarily for parochial schools. SENATOR SALO asked how the legislation could be narrowed to match the intent of private entities. SENATOR RIEGER, in reference to page 1, lines 8 and 9, asked for clarification of the language. SENATOR KELLY asked the committee about SENATOR SALO'S concerns, and SENATOR TAYLOR said the language had already been modified. He suggested the drafter could give an opinion, but as written the bill only included religious schools. SENATOR KELLY and SENATOR TAYLOR agreed the wording could be resolved, if necessary, in the Judiciary Committee - the next referral. Number 333 Next to testify was MIKE MCMULLEN, representing the Department of Administration, who expressed concern in cases where there was a genuine connection between the off duty conduct and the ability to perform successfully for the employer. He gave examples of off duty activities which have a connection to job performance, and he said the state was most interested in alcohol consumption among personnel who deal with alcohol related crimes. MR. MCMULLEN said the Administration was looking for a nexus provision to be added to the bill. SENATOR KELLY asked for suggested language, and MR. MCMULLEN direct attention to page 2, line 2 after standards, and before the ; to add the language, "where there is a demonstrable nexus with the individual's employment." SENATOR KELLY asked why the word connection wasn't used, but MR. MCMULLEN defended the use of nexus. SENATOR KELLY asked for the opinion of the sponsor, and SENATOR TAYLOR agreed there might be some cases where it might be needed in law enforcement. SENATOR KELLY discussed with MR. MCMULLEN the Administration's problem with the legislation. Number 388 SENATOR RIEGER thought off duty use of alcohol might better be written into specific job descriptions, but he expressed no problem with MR. MCMULLEN'S proposed amendment. SENATOR SALO expressed a problem with the proposed language, which she explained would substantially weaken the bill. She discussed the subjective nature of "demonstrable nexus." SENATOR RIEGER suggested the burden should be put on the employer making it "demonstrated nexus." There was a discussion among the committee members and MR. MCMULLEN about the difference between demonstrable and demonstrated. SENATOR KELLY asked for ideas, and SENATOR TAYLOR thought it might be a large loophole and agreed with SENATOR SALO'S point. Number 422 SENATOR SALO said the bill's greatest application would be in the protection against discriminatory hiring practices, and she gave some examples of a preferable approach to limiting off duty behavior. She didn't think the suggested language would address the narrow intent of the Administration. MR. MCMULLEN defended the use of nexus as having a history in arbitration and gave examples of its use. SENATOR RIEGER thought both points of view should be debated in the Judiciary Committee and suggested a change that would satisfy him. SENATOR SALO moved to pass SENATE BILL NO. 69 from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered. There being no further business to come before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 2:07 p.m.