Legislature(1993 - 1994)

01/25/1994 01:35 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
              SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE                              
                        January 25, 1994                                       
                           1:35 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Tim Kelly, Chairman                                                   
 Senator Steve Rieger, Vice-Chairman                                           
 Senator Bert Sharp                                                            
 Senator Georgianna Lincoln                                                    
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
  OTHERS PRESENT                                                               
 Senator Steve Frank                                                           
 Representative Sean Parnell                                                   
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 SENATE BILL NO. 184                                                           
 "An Act relating to civil liability of employees and volunteers of            
 certain nonprofit corporations; and providing for an effective                
 SENATE BILL NO. 70                                                            
 "An Act establishing a loan guarantee and interest rate subsidy               
 program for assistive technology."                                            
 HOUSE BILL NO. 180 am                                                         
 "An Act relating to the residential housing inspection requirements           
 of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation."                                   
 HOUSE BILL NO. 294                                                            
 "An Act extending the termination date of the Board of Pharmacy."             
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SB 184 - See Labor & Commerce minutes dated 4/13/93.                          
 SB 70 - See HESS minutes dated 3/22/93.                                       
 HB 180 - See Community & Regional Affairs minutes dated                       
          4/22/93 and 4/24/93.                                                 
 HB 294 - No previous action.                                                  
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Mike Ford, Attorney                                                           
 Legislative Legal Counsel                                                     
 130 Seward Street, Room 404                                                   
 Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                          
   POSITION STATEMENT: Drafted SB 184.                                         
 Roxanne Stewart, Aide                                                         
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
   POSITION STATEMENT: introduced SB 70.                                       
 Stan Ridgeway, Deputy Director                                                
 Vocational Rehabilitation                                                     
 Department of Education                                                       
 801 W. 10th St., Suite 200                                                    
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894                                                     
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Mark Fresquez                                                                 
 Southeast Alaska Independent Living                                           
 8800 Glacier Highway, Suite 236                                               
 Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                          
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Earl Clark                                                                    
 Southeast Alaska Independent Living                                           
 9163 Parkwood                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                          
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Steve Priddle                                                                 
 801 Lincoln Street                                                            
 Sitka, Alaska 99835                                                           
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Jerry Kainulainen                                                             
 P.O. Box 1629                                                                 
 Sitka, Alaska 99835                                                           
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Elena Kilbuck                                                                 
 Southeast Alaska Independent Living                                           
 1621 Tongass                                                                  
 Ketchikan, Alaska 99901                                                       
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Nancy Anderson                                                                
 Southeast Alaska Independent Living                                           
 Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                          
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Ken Dean                                                                      
 P.O. Box 210529                                                               
 Auke Bay, Alaska 99821                                                        
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Kay Klose                                                                     
 P.O. Box 22164                                                                
 Juneau, Alaska 99802                                                          
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Joe Tompkins                                                                  
 8221 N. Douglas Highway                                                       
 Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                          
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Connie Anderson                                                               
 Southeast Alaska Independent Living                                           
 P.O. Box 34376                                                                
 Juneau, Alaska 99803                                                          
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 Patty Baumgartner                                                             
 Southeast Alaska Independent Living                                           
 P.O. Box 27491                                                                
 Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                          
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 70.                                        
 David Harding, Aide                                                           
 Representative Eileen MacLean                                                 
 State Capitol, Room 507                                                       
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
   POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced HB 180.                                      
 Robert Brean, Director                                                        
 Rural Housing Division                                                        
 Alaska Housing Finance Corporation                                            
 Department of Revenue                                                         
 520 E. 34th                                                                   
 Anchorage, Alaska 99503                                                       
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 180.                                       
 Duane Wise                                                                    
 Alaska Housing Finance Corporation                                            
 Department of Revenue                                                         
 520 E. 34th                                                                   
 Anchorage, Alaska 99503                                                       
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 180.                                       
 Karl Luck, Director                                                           
 Division of Occupational Licensing                                            
 Dept. of Commerce & Economic Development                                      
 P.O. Box 110806                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0806                                                     
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 294.                                       
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 94-2 SIDE A                                                              
 Number 001                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TIM KELLY  called the Labor and Commerce Committee meeting     g    
 to order at 1:35 p.m.                                                         
 SENATOR KELLY introduced SB 184 (VOLUNTEERS AND EMPLOYEES OF                  
 NONPROFITS) and invited the sponsor, SENATOR STEVE FRANK, to review           
 his bill.                                                                     
 SENATOR FRANK gave some past history on the bill and made the                 
 committee aware the original bill proposed to make volunteers and             
 employees of non-profit corporations in Alaska immune to civil                
 liability for damages incurred while they were working on the job.            
 He explained subsequent work on the bill has produced a proposed              
 committee substitute to eliminate "employees" from personal                   
 liability, and he referred to Subsection (b) on page 1 of the                 
 proposed committee substitute for SB 184.                                     
 SENATOR KELLY called the committee's attention to the language on             
 page 2, line 11, Subsection (d) which reads:  "This section does              
 not preclude liability for civil damages as a result of gross                 
 negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct."  He asked for           
 a motion to adopt the committee substitute.                                   
 SENATOR RIEGER questioned the comparison of the original bill to              
 committee substitute change on page 2, lines 5 through 10, and                
 expressed some discomfort to extending immunity to the corporation.           
 He used AHFC as an example of a non-profit corporation which might            
 benefit from the provision.                                                   
 Number 053                                                                    
 SENATOR FRANK was not sure the AHFC was a good example of a non-              
 profit corporation as far as the compensation of the board, and he            
 couldn't think of anyone volunteering at AHFC.                                
 SENATOR RIEGER asked for clarification of the changes in question,            
 and SENATOR FRANK asked the bill drafter, MIKE FORD, to answer                
 MR. FORD drew attention to the change in the title of the proposed            
 committee substitute for SB 184, which he explained was because of            
 Subsection (c) on page 2.  He also explained the new provision                
 would extend immunity to corporations and the amount of damages               
 that could be recovered to the amount of the insurance.  MR. FORD             
 opined SENATOR RIEGER was correct.                                            
 SENATOR KELLY questioned whether this had been done on purpose.               
 His aide, JOSH FINK, said it was an amendment before the committee            
 last session.  He explained the issue was raised as a result of a             
 letter from the Office of ATTORNEY GENERAL COLE in a letter dated             
 April 28, 1993, and placed in the bill packets.  MR. FINK reviewed            
 the points in the letter concerning the liability of the non-profit           
 corporations as compared to the volunteers.                                   
 SENATOR KELLY questioned MR. FORD whether Subsection (c) only                 
 restricts the liability of the corporation concerning the                     
 MR. FORD answered it was damages resulting from an act or omission            
 of a volunteer that would impact the corporation.                             
 SENATOR FRANK posed a scenario where a volunteer commits simple               
 negligence and the non-profit corporation was sued, and the damages           
 were limited to $500 thousand.  MR. FORD said he was correct.                 
 Number 096                                                                    
 SENATOR SALO asked if the $500 thousand was in statute as a                   
 required amount of insurance.  SENATOR FRANK said she was basically           
 correct, and MR. FORD said it was a floor, but it could be more.              
 SENATOR KELLY clarified a non-profit corporation would not get                
 immunity for their volunteers unless they had insurance in the                
 amount of $200 thousand, and MR. FORD confirmed the corporation               
 would need liability insurance.                                               
 MR. FORD suggested another wrinkle in which non-profit corporations           
 could be exempt from the insurance requirement if they have                   
 operating costs of less than $100 thousand, and they are also                 
 exempt under federal law.  He described a situation in which a non-           
 profit is not insured, but would be immune.                                   
 SENATOR KELLY led a short discussion on these provisions with                 
 committee members and suggested it was the small non-profits that             
 have more dependence on the volunteers.  He said it would solve the           
 problem of exempting the non-profit corporation, AHFC.                        
 SENATOR LINCOLN questioned whether all small corporations would be            
 immune if there was gross negligence or recklessness.                         
 SENATOR SALO asked MR. FORD for a legal difference between the                
 terms, "simple negligence" and "gross negligence."  MR. FORD spoke            
 of extensive review by the courts, and concluded it is a matter of            
 degree in the conduct.  He gave an example of the meaning.                    
 SENATOR SHARP wanted assurance it wold not exempt any non-profit              
 corporations for actions by any person receiving compensation - for           
 volunteers only.  MR. FORD said he was correct.                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked for a motion on the committee substitute.                 
 Number 149                                                                    
 SENATOR SHARP moved to adopt CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 184(L&C).                 
 Without objections, so ordered.                                               
 SENATOR SHARP moved to pass CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 184(L&C)                   
 (VOLUNTEERS AND EMPLOYEES OF NONPROFITS) from committee with                  
 individual recommendations and a zero fiscal note.  Without                   
 objections, so ordered.                                                       
 SENATOR KELLY introduced SB 70 (ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY LOAN                     
 GUARANTEES) by SENATOR JIM DUNCAN, and invited his aide, ROXANNE              
 STEWART, to present the bill.                                                 
 MS. STEWART thanked SENATOR KELLY for hearing the bill, even though           
 SENATOR DUNCAN was not able to be present.  She explained their               
 office had received a new proposal from the Division of Vocational            
 Rehabilitation, a copy of which was given to JOSH FINK, aide to               
 SENATOR KELLY.  MS. STEWART also explained it would necessitate               
 changes to the bill if the committee chooses to accept the changes.           
 MS. STEWART reviewed the provisions of the legislation which would            
 establish the Assistive Technology Loan Guarantee Program, would              
 assist persons with disabilities to purchase durable equipment,               
 adaptive aids, and assistive devices to obtain or maintain their              
 employment or to live more independently.  She explained the bill             
 had included employers in the program, but the new proposal would             
 eliminate the employers from the program.                                     
 MS. STEWART suggested the committee look at SB 70 as a job's bill             
 for persons with disabilities.  Using the federal receipts, which             
 are referenced in the fiscal note, she said the program would allow           
 the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to guarantee loans made             
 to individuals with disabilities by private lending institutions.             
 MS. STEWART explained the loan recipient must be unable to obtain             
 the needed equipment through Vocational Rehabilitation, MEDICAID,             
 MEDICARE, or other sources such as insurance companies.  Under the            
 bill, a loan could be used for purchase or modification of a                  
 vehicle, if the person lives independently or with their parents or           
 guardian, and has been employed a minimum of 90 days before the               
 initial loan request.                                                         
 MS. STEWART said the present legislation requires the Division of             
 Vocational Rehabilitation to determine the applicant's ability to             
 make loan payments and assume other responsibilities normally                 
 carried out by lending institutions.  She explained this would be             
 changed in the new proposal from the Division of Vocational                   
 Rehabilitation, and she further explained the proposal would                  
 clarify the respective responsibilities of the lenders, the                   
 Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and establish a loan                   
 committee to administer the program.                                          
 MS. STEWART reported the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation                
 commissioned a study during the interim to determine the most                 
 effective means of implementing the loan program, based on what               
 works in other states, which, she said, was the basis of the bill             
 before the committee.  In the proposal the participating lending              
 institutions would process the loans using their standard                     
 procedures; however, if the borrower is not able to afford the                
 payments due to the interest rate, the lender would refer the                 
 person to the Assistive Technology Loan Guarantee Program for an              
 interest rate buy down.                                                       
 MS. STEWART said she was not able to get the suggested amendments             
 drafted before the committee meeting, but she offered assistance to           
 work with SENATOR KELLY'S staff if he chose to make the amendments.           
 Number 199                                                                    
 MR. FINK explained to SENATOR KELLY the new proposal was delivered            
 just prior to the committee meeting.  SENATOR KELLY said a                    
 committee substituted would be drafted with the help of all of the            
 participants in the legislation, but in the mean time he planned to           
 continue the testimony on SB 70.                                              
 Next, SENATOR KELLY called on STAN RIDGEWAY, Deputy Director for              
 the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and asked if he wished             
 to testify, or present his position paper.                                    
 MR. RIDGEWAY said he was willing to work with staff on the changes            
 to the committee substitute and leave the time for testimony.                 
 MARK FRESQUEZ testified as a hearing impaired person in support of            
 HB 139 (ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY LOAN GUARANTEES), a companion bill to            
 SB 70.  He explained his support in terms of the benefits, not only           
 to the persons with disabilities, but to their families, employers,           
 co-workers, and the general public.                                           
 MR. FRESQUEZ explained how he would be helped, not only in his                
 world of work, but his social life.  He explained how this                    
 assistance impacted the hearing impaired person working in an                 
 office, who, because they could answer the phone with a TDY system            
 could get a promotion - and a feeling of pride.                               
 Number 261                                                                    
 EARL CLARK, next to testify, showed his disability in a slow,                 
 halting walk to the microphone.  He works for the Southeast Alaska            
 Independent Living Center with people who are disabled to varying             
 MR. CLARK was enthusiastic in his praise that with assistive                  
 technology, namely a computer, he was able to become computer                 
 literate and save his career.  He said the program provides                   
 technology to people who have the possibilities of employment and             
 make them productive citizens of society.  MR. CLARK said SB 70 was           
 really an investment with an unlimited ability to help people who             
 need help at crucial times in their lives.                                    
 Number 294                                                                    
 SENATOR KELLY asked MS. STEWART if the program would allow the                
 purchase of computers.  She said it did.                                      
 SENATOR SALO questioned the availability of the technology to the             
 person but not to the employer.  MS. STEWART said that was correct,           
 and referred her question to MR. RIDGEWAY.                                    
 MR. RIDGEWAY explained, under the Assistive Technology of Alaska              
 Advisory Board (ATA), the employer has a separate obligation to               
 provide technology to a person with a disability and have tax                 
 advantages to supply the equipment if it is for a person with a               
 disability.  He also explained the adaptive equipment needed by the           
 employer is relatively simply, and he gave an example.                        
 MR. RIDGEWAY said the assistive technology bill is mainly aimed at            
 helping individuals rather than businesses or corporations.                   
 SENATOR KELLY next turned to the Teleconference Network to take               
 testimony from Sitka before returning to Juneau.                              
 STEVE PRIDDLE testified as a consumer and in favor of SB 70.  He              
 described his disability as a dual sensory lock, both blindness and           
 hearing impairment.  He explained he was presently in college,                
 going for a degree in law, and able to maintain a 3.2 grade point.            
 He gave adaptive technology credit for his success, and he stressed           
 a significant need in Alaska for legislation such as SB 70 to help            
 those people who need assistive technology.                                   
 JERRY KAINULAINEN, testifying from Sitka, explained he was also a             
 user of assistive technology, since his means of mobility is with             
 a wheelchair, aided by a wheelchair lift in his van.  He listed               
 reasons for his support for SB 70 and the House companion bill:               
 assisted communications, computer applications, environmental                 
 control systems, home or work site modifications, hearing and                 
 vision aides, mobility applications, and adaptive toys.                       
 MR. KAINULAINEN referred to a study conducted by the Institute of             
 Social and Economic Research (ISER) in the Spring of 1991, which he           
 explained documented a considerable need for the assistive                    
 technology.   He quoted the survey as finding that 61% of the                 
 respondents to the study paid for their own devices; next being 13%           
 with payments by private insurance companies, 10% from families,              
 making it 84% altogether from these sources.  He quoted other                 
 statistics to support SB 70.                                                  
 MR. KAINULAINEN explained there were similar bills in other states            
 with programs doing very well with low default rates in most of the           
 Number 393                                                                    
 Hearing no questions from committee members, SENATOR KELLY turned             
 to Ketchikan to hear ELENA KILBUCK.                                           
 MS. KILBUCK introduced herself as working for the Southeast Alaska            
 Independent Living program and explained there were three consumers           
 and two citizens in Ketchikan, who agree that SB 70 is an                     
 opportunity the community can use, and she explained their needs.             
 While a person was wheeling forth in her chair to testify, JOE                
 TOMPKINS explained how the committee room was not accessible.                 
 SENATOR LINCOLN agreed this was a good point, and SENATOR KELLY               
 wondered how she had gotten into the building.  SENATOR LINCOLN               
 said a portable mike was needed.                                              
 NANCY ANDERSON, who was unable to maneuver behind the table,                  
 explained she was a member of the Assistive Technologies of Alaska            
 Council and the Southeast Alaska Independent Living Board.  She               
 testified as a consumer that the bill was more than a good thing to           
 do, it would likely get people employed.                                      
 MS. ANDERSON brought up the problem of not being able to get to an            
 interview for a job because of an inadequate vehicle, or not having           
 a wheelchair.  She explained, in her own case, she presently has no           
 transportation since her disability grew out of her car, and she is           
 now dependent on other means of transportation.                               
 MS. ANDERSON said there would be an increase in her activities if             
 she had a lift equipped van, but she was told the insurance company           
 would not pay for that kind of equipment, since it isn't directly             
 medically related.                                                            
 Number 447                                                                    
 MS. ANDERSON explained she has had assistance from Vocational                 
 Rehabilitation, but they have a limit on how much they can spend.             
 The lift on the van would cost $12 thousand, but Vocational                   
 Rehabilitation can only pay $5 thousand.  She said there were many            
 disabled people in a situation where they have exhausted all of               
 their resources.                                                              
 MS. ANDERSON continued discussing disability problems such as being           
 able to purchase a special kind of blanket for those who can't                
 maneuver under a heavy blanket.  She concluded her testimony by               
 stressing the need in the State of Alaska for adaptive technology.            
 SENATOR SALO asked MS. ANDERSON whether there should be a maximum             
 per individual using the loan fund.  MS. ANDERSON thought there was           
 MS. STEWART opined there was a $10 thousand limit, but that                   
 provisions should be removed in a committee substitute, with the              
 committee in Vocational Rehabilitation deciding on the maximum.               
 SENATOR KELLY clarified the payment schedule, but said there was no           
 limit.  He discussed with SENATOR SALO and MS. ANDERSON the limits            
 on the funding for $10 thousand wheelchair lifts, and MS. ANDERSON            
 suggested a mechanism to make funding depend on the pot of money              
 available.  She thought it was better to help a significant number            
 of people, even if they had to pay part of the cost of the adaptive           
 equipment themselves.                                                         
 SENATOR SHARP thought the $100 thousand was to be used to subsidize           
 interest reductions and to leverage to a larger amount.                       
 MS. STEWART quoted the Assistive Technology Council as saying they            
 would put $100 thousand annually into the fund.                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked if federal funding was in the legislation, and            
 there was reference to the fiscal note.  MS. ANDERSON explained it            
 would not be an interest free loan, which would provide additional            
 money to the fund, and she cited an increase in funds in other                
 KEN DEAN, an Auke Bay consumer, expressed concern for the potential           
 limits on individual loans, and noted the cost of his wheelchair              
 was $13 thousand plus $12 thousand for the lift in his van, all               
 paid by him or his insurance company.  These assistive devices have           
 provided him with ongoing employment for the last five years, along           
 with providing the college education MR. DEAN needed to pursue his            
 MR. DEAN explained he was fortunate in that he previously had a               
 good paying job until disease took his mobility away, but he was              
 able to cross train and retrain through the university system.  He            
 was able to land a good job with a caring employer, who has helped            
 him with his purchase of assistive devices.  MR. DEAN hoped the               
 legislation would help other disabled people to make suitable                 
 financial arrangements to open an area of accomplishments - instead           
 of being housebound.                                                          
 SENATOR KELLY and SENATOR RIEGER discussed the passage of SB 70               
 from the HESS Committee in the original form.                                 
 Next to testify was KAY KLOSE, an independent living specialist               
 working throughout Southeast communities providing advocacy and               
 case management services.  She also returned to the 1991 survey               
 conducted by ISER, which found there were between twenty and                  
 twenty-three thousand people who were disabled, but the study did             
 not include those disabled people in institutional settings.                  
 MS. KLOSE said the survey also indicated that 58% of Alaskans, who            
 need assisted technology do not have access to it, and rural                  
 Alaskans represent the largest unserved population.                           
 MS. KLOSE said this failure to have appropriate technology                    
 minimizes people's lives and their abilities to contribute as                 
 inclusive, productive members of society.  She claimed there were             
 over 40 thousand assistive technology devices available today, and            
 she listed the aids in mobility, communication, adaptive computers,           
 electronic systems, all kinds of prothesis, vehicle modification,             
 and recreational devices such as used at Eaglecrest.  MS. KLOSE               
 said the cost for these devices was very expensive, and she                   
 reviewed the cost of some of them.                                            
 TAPE 94-2 SIDE B                                                              
 Number 001                                                                    
 MS. KLOSE continued to discuss the improvement of accessibility,              
 the employment and promotion of disabled persons, the reduction of            
 worker's compensation costs, and the need to develop additional               
 work forces.  She explained persons with disabilities, families,              
 and employers would be able to make direct application to their               
 local bank for this loan.                                                     
 MS. KLOSE closed her remarks by explaining there was no cost to the           
 state budget and the federal funds would guarantee up to 90% of the           
 loan principal amount.  She said she was the only person not                  
 disabled in her office, and she was amazed at what the staff was              
 able to do, provided they have assistive technology available to              
 SENATOR KELLY continued to invite others to speak to the committee.           
 JOE TOMPKINS thanked the committee for their time.  He suggested to           
 the members they use a wheelchair for a week, wear a blindfold for            
 a day, or plug their ears to experience the difference in trying to           
 do all the things they do during the day.                                     
 Because of a non-profit organization and volunteers, MR. TOMPKINS             
 described how he was able to go skiing for the first time last                
 Saturday at Eaglecrest, which was something he had never done                 
 before.  He praised the volunteers who happily helped him ski.                
 Without Vocational Rehabilitation, MR. TOMPKINS would not have been           
 able to testify, and he explained the doors on his house had to be            
 widened to accommodate his wheelchair.  He asked the committee to             
 pass SB 70 because there were many more things he wanted to do.               
 MR. TOMPKINS described how the set-up of the committee room did not           
 consider wheelchairs or blind people.  He urged the committee                 
 members to be more understanding of the challenges facing the                 
 Number 045                                                                    
 Next to testify was CONNIE ANDERSON, who is hearing impaired.  She            
 introduced herself as the Executive Director of Southeast Alaska              
 Independent Living, and the current Chair of the State of Alaska              
 Independent Living Council, and she explained the services provided           
 by both of these groups.                                                      
 MS. ANDERSON reviewed the intent of the Assistive Technology Loan             
 Guarantee and Interest Subsidy program, and how the program enables           
 the disabled to purchase assistive technology equipment which is              
 necessary to their employment and/or their independence.                      
 MS. ANDERSON explained that with the advent of technology in the              
 work place and the community, it has become more critical that                
 people with disabilities have the same opportunities to purchase              
 and utilize whatever assistive or adaptive technology necessary to            
 assist them with daily living and employment.  She gave examples of           
 "high-tech" devices such as computers, reader/scanners, and speech            
 MS. ANDERSON also referred to the ISER research conducted from                
 November 1990 to January 1991, in which is was found there were               
 approximately 22,000 persons in Alaska who experience a disability.           
 This figure did not include the disabled in institutions or those             
 without phones or deaf.  She quoted the study's estimate that over            
 fourteen thousand of the people in the study could benefit from the           
 use of assistive technology equipment especially designed for their           
 MS. ANDERSON also quoted from the ISER study that the most common             
 reason why this assistive technology equipment is not used is that            
 people cannot afford the cost of the special equipment.                       
 In addition, MS. ANDERSON said the survey documented that Alaska              
 natives with disabilities and rural Alaskans with disabilities not            
 only constituted a greater need for all types of assistive                    
 technology but it represented the largest unmet need.  She reviewed           
 the most common types of equipment such telecommunication devices             
 for the deaf, (TDD) which MS. ANDERSON said she used to answer the            
 Number 117                                                                    
 In her final words of support for SB 70, MRS. ANDERSON said, "This            
 initiative has no immediate impact on the current state budget.  It           
 is anticipated that federal funding of approximately $100,000 will            
 serve as seed money to this program.  These federal monies will               
 guarantee up to 90% of the loan principal amount or subsidize the             
 interest of the loan to a state or federally chartered financial              
 institution.  Persons with disabilities, their families, and their            
 employers will be able to make a direct application to their local            
 bank for an assistive technology loan."                                       
 SENATOR LINCOLN asked for a copy of MS. ANDERSON'S testimony.                 
 SENATOR LINCOLN clarified with MR. RIDGEWAY that 38% of those with            
 disabilities were Bush Alaska residents, and she gave the example             
 of helping a constituent who needed a stroller to use for a                   
 disabled child.  She described the difficulty in securing both the            
 certification from an Assistive Technology Resource Center and the            
 application for the low-interest, long term loan, because there are           
 no banks or eligibility offices in the Bush.  She hoped this would            
 be resolved.                                                                  
 Number 164                                                                    
 SENATOR KELLY next called on PATTY BAUMGARTNER, who is sight                  
 impaired and accompanied by her working dog.                                  
 MS. BAUMGARTNER explained she was a coordinator for older, blind              
 Alaskans, including those with low vision.  In reference to the               
 problems outlined by SENATOR LINCOLN, she described the extent of             
 an out-reach program into the rural areas for information and                 
 MS. BAUMGARTNER told of the frustrations of going from being a                
 sighted person to not being able to read anything, but she                    
 described scanning devices to allow her to read any typed print.              
 She also described other devices connected to a computer that would           
 talk to her, and how important these devices were to her work.                
 MS. BAUMGARTNER talked about the importance of being able to                  
 purchase these devices, but how you lose income when you lose your            
 eye sight.  She said you can't get a conventional loan to buy an              
 unconventional device, and she outlined the problems of trying to             
 persuade a bank to loan money to a disabled person.                           
 She also talked in terms of wanting to be an asset rather than a              
 liability to society, and how it can be accomplished with an                  
 affordable loan.                                                              
 SENATOR KELLY said staff would work together to develop a committee           
 substitute, and he posed questions about all phases of the loans,             
 restricting the money, and the availability of the funding.  He               
 thought the banking terms would have to be strengthened, and the              
 problems with foreclosing on a loan from a disabled person.                   
 SENATOR KELLY expressed concerns that some banks might not even               
 want to make these loans, unless there was encouragement to do so.            
 He indicated the committee would work on a committee substitute to            
 the persons who testified.                                                    
 Number 224                                                                    
 SENATOR SALO returned to MS. BAUMGARTNER to ask her how she handles           
 her paperwork load now.  MS. BAUMGARTNER said she presently has an            
 employed reader, but she also described a working agreement with              
 many people who generate the paper to send it on a diskette.  She             
 explained she has Wordperfect with Windows on her computer at work,           
 and when she inserts the diskette, her computer talks to her.  MS.            
 BAUMGARTNER said it was a mutual cooperation with other agencies              
 such as the City & Borough of Juneau.  She described how some of              
 her information comes to her on cassette.                                     
 SENATOR SALO asked about the price of the computer that talks, and            
 MS. BAUMGARTNER answered that the one she has at home, an Apple               
 IIGF, is about $5 thousand.  She described other types of computers           
 as well as software that turns the spoken word into print and to              
 braille which was $195.  She thought there were many marvelous                
 programs on the market now for disabled persons and for bilingual             
 SENATOR SALO asked about her dog's name, and MS. BAUMGARTNER                  
 introduced her seeing eye dog, Snoopy.                                        
 Number 259                                                                    
 CONNIE ANDERSON asked to comment on the computers, the financing,             
 and the need for ready access in their office.                                
 MS. BAUMGARTNER described how some people in their fifties are                
 loosing both their eye sight and their jobs - and they are not                
 ready to retire.  The problems of access and cost can turn a person           
 into a liability, and she explained how she helps them get a piece            
 of equipment to help them remain productive.                                  
 SENATOR SHARP asked about the maximum allowable and running afoul             
 of restrictions on federal money.                                             
 SENATOR KELLY clarified there presently was no "maximum allowable"            
 in SB 70, and he asked MR. RIDGEWAY if anything would preclude                
 buying a 35 foot seiner with assistive technology on it.                      
 MR. RIDGEWAY discussed the process of the loan committee, and he              
 reminded the committee the loan had to be repaid.  He said it was             
 difficult to think in terms of buying a boat as an assistive                  
 technology device, but he thought it may come up.  He thought the             
 loan committee would limit the loans to insure it was helping the             
 person to live independently and to work.                                     
 Number 310                                                                    
 In reading the bill, SENATOR SHARP decided there was a limitation             
 to the payment period of four to six years.                                   
 MR. RIDGEWAY explained that last year in the HESS Committee,                  
 SENATOR RIEGER brought up many of the technical questions on how to           
 manage the loan.  He noted the President of the Alaska Banker's               
 Association testified in favor of SB 70.  He said forty two other             
 states have these loan programs, and three of the states have                 
 capitalized their loans through federal funds, which is the way the           
 Administration wants to structure the loan program in SB 70.                  
 SENATOR KELLY questioned which banks in Alaska would provide these            
 loans, and MR. RIDGEWAY answered that banks were supporting the               
 loan legislation because of their requirement for community                   
 reinvestment.  MR. RIDGEWAY also described the difficulty banks had           
 in repossessing equipment purchased for the disabled, but the bank            
 are in agreement because the loans are guaranteed at 90% and can be           
 claimed as a community reinvestment project.                                  
 SENATOR KELLY clarified it was a loan program, not a welfare                  
 program, and he explained the collateral side of the program.                 
 Number 350                                                                    
 MS. ANDERSON said that banks had looked at the track records of               
 other states with similar programs, which claim a spectacular                 
 response and low default rates in relation to other consumer loans.           
 SENATOR KELLY said he would like to see the results from some of              
 the other programs in terms of limits on loans, interest rates,               
 origination fees, and financial institutions.  He asked MS. STEWART           
 if the program was limited to banks, or did it include credit                 
 unions.  She explained it was "lending institutions," and they                
 concluded it would be credit unions, too.                                     
 MS. ANDERSON pointed out, in the example of the seine boat, the               
 loans are not structured to purchase the boat, but the assistive              
 technology could be purchased on a boat.  She also reviewed the               
 loan procedures for handling the debt load of the prospective                 
 SENATOR KELLY explained the legislation would allow a bank to loan            
 on a van plus the modifications, but it would be difficult to                 
 purchase many of these large ticket items with the $100 thousand              
 funding available, even when leveraged up to $750 thousand.  He               
 wondered if the fishing boat would qualify as durable goods, and he           
 was concerned about the limited amount of money.  SENATOR KELLY               
 wanted to see more definition in the bill.                                    
 MR. RIDGEWAY thought an answer to his concerns was in taking out              
 the employer as a recipient of an Assistive Technology Loan.                  
 SENATOR KELLY agreed the program was a good idea and the committee            
 should work on a draft on which all participants could agree, and             
 go forward from there.                                                        
 Number 401                                                                    
 SENATOR LINCOLN asked when the bill could be expected back in                 
 committee, and she talked in terms of helping those who testified,            
 and for those across the state who also have a need.                          
 SENATOR KELLY asked about the status of the companion bill, HB 139,           
 and was informed it was still in the first committee of referral.             
 He said he would start with providing a committee substitute.                 
 SENATOR KELLY introduced HB 180 AM (ALASKA HOUSING FINANCE                    
 REPRESENTATIVE EILEEN MACLEAN, and he called on her aide, DAVID               
 HARDING, to review the bill.                                                  
 MR. HARDING reviewed some previous action by explaining, "When, in            
 1992 the legislature merged the Department of Regional Affairs                
 Rural Housing Loan Program (DCRA) into AHFC, the rural loans became           
 subject to certain housing inspection requirements as listed in AS            
 18.56.300(b).  These requirements were never intended to apply to             
 rural housing loan programs; in fact, AHFC's primary rural loan               
 program, non-conforming housing, is specifically exempted in the              
 status.  Rural housing loans have been subject to AHFC inspection             
 requirements since July 1, 1992."                                             
 MR. HARDING cited problems with inspection requirements that were             
 not originally intended to affect rural loans, but has caused an              
 unfair burden on rural homeowners, which was not the legislative              
 intent.  Rather than exempting the rural housing loan program from            
 these requirements, REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN felt the rural home                
 owners and rural lenders would benefit from some form of an                   
 inspection program.                                                           
 MR. HARDING quoted REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN's Sponsor Statement to              
 provide flexibility in the program in HB 180.                                 
 "It broadens the pool of eligible inspectors in rural areas by                
 allowing licensed architects and engineers to conduct the                     
 inspections.  These professionals are clearly qualified to                    
 accomplish the task, and they often travel to rural areas to                  
 monitor construction projects.                                                
 Number 450                                                                    
 It allows AHFC to identify other qualified individuals in rural               
 communities.  A local contractor or journeymen in a trade might be            
 obvious candidates to carry out part or all of a remote inspection.           
 It authorizes inspection methods other than a physical site visit             
 by an inspector.  For example, AHFC could approve an inspection of            
 footings and foundations based on video tape or photographs."                 
 In addition, MR. HARDING explained HB 180 would allow AHFC to                 
 accept building methods or materials that may not meet state                  
 building codes if the corporation is satisfied that the code                  
 variation does not sacrifice health or safety.  If a building                 
 material is available that may not meet code but would stand up to            
 an engineering review, then AHFC would be allowed to accept such              
 equivalent substitution.  He said this would save on building costs           
 and make use of available materials in remote locations.                      
 MR. HARDING explained the International Conference of Building                
 Officials (IBCO) inspection requirements were originally put into             
 law in order to address the concerns of some builders in the                  
 Railbelt, and he promised the proposed changes would not affect any           
 builders on the road system, but would only address problems in               
 rural Alaska loan programs.                                                   
 SENATOR KELLY asked if this would include Sitka, and MR. HARDING              
 answered it would exempt both Sitka and Juneau, because any place             
 that has a municipal building code is already exempt.  SENATOR                
 KELLY led a general discussion of this provision which is in                  
 current law.                                                                  
 SENATOR KELLY said he agreed with the thrust of SB 180, but he                
 wanted to be sure there was an adequate definition of rural.  MR.             
 HARDING reviewed the list of exempt communities that have their own           
 codes, including a number in Southeast.  SENATOR SHARP had some               
 questions because he didn't think the definition was inclusive, but           
 MR. HARDING clarified the list.                                               
 Number 499                                                                    
 SENATOR KELLY asked whether Cordova was on the list, and SENATOR              
 SALO asked about Soldotna.  MR. HARDING explained Cordova would               
 come under the provisions of HB 180, but Soldotna was not included            
 in the exemption because it is on the road system.                            
 SENATOR SALO questioned the video tape method of inspecting                   
 footings and foundations, and MR. HARDING answered it would be up             
 to the discretion of AHFC to allow this method.                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked who was on teleconference in Anchorage from               
 AHFC, and he was told ROBERT BREAN, who introduce two other                   
 SENATOR KELLY questioned whether any of the three had any                     
 objections to the bill, and MR. BREAN indicated they had worked               
 with the sponsor in suggesting the amendments, in order to provide            
 the flexibility for rural Alaska.                                             
 SENATOR KELLY asked if they had any proposed amendments to HB 180,            
 and MR. BREAN indicated they did not.  SENATOR KELLY clarified they           
 supported HB 180 as amended by the House and now before the                   
 Judiciary Committee.                                                          
 SENATOR SHARP asked the AHFC members if they were able to determine           
 any trends in losses or lack of quality due to less stringent                 
 inspections than on other AHFC financed houses.                               
 MR. BREAM described a period when they were exempt until after the            
 merger with AHFC in 1992, and he further explained the present                
 flexibility presently used in the inspections.  He assured the                
 committee their goal is an improvement in the quality of housing              
 all over the State of Alaska, rural Alaska included.                          
 SENATOR SHARP asked if AHFC specifically got complaints from buyers           
 about the quality of the homes, or lack of quality after they buy             
 them.  MR. BREAM explained in many cases, these were owner built              
 houses, with the owner acting as their own contractor.  He further            
 explained foreclosed properties were sold "as is," and the foremost           
 concern in the rural areas is the availability of housing.                    
 SENATOR KELLY clarified that the AHFC would not allow an owner-               
 builder to inspect their own house.  MR. BREAN said he was correct,           
 and he described their procedures.                                            
 SENATOR RIEGER questioned AHFC about title insurance for rural                
 housing loans, and DUANE WISE answered that they do.                          
 TAPE 94-3 SIDE A                                                              
 Number 001                                                                    
 SENATOR KELLY took an informal poll of the persons in the committee           
 audience and found there was support for the bill.  He then ask for           
 the will of the committee.                                                    
 SENATOR RIEGER said that in reading AS 18.56.300(b), he didn't                
 think it was clear the stated exemption for some communities                  
 applies in Subsection (b) the way it does in Subsection (a).  He              
 wanted to check on the provisions before voting.                              
 SENATOR KELLY asked about the next committee of referral, and MR.             
 FINK said there was no Finance Committee referral.                            
 SENATOR RIEGER explained the differences in Subsections (a) and (b)           
 claiming Subsection (b) did not give the same exemption.                      
 SENATOR KELLY said, since Labor & Commerce was the last committee             
 of referral, the committee would hang on to the bill just long                
 enough to straighten out the subsections.  He said the bill would             
 be returned to committee as soon as possible.                                 
 SENATOR KELLY introduced HB 294 (EXTEND THE BOARD OF PHARMACY)                
 sponsored by REPRESENTATIVE SEAN PARNELL, and invited KARL LUCK,              
 Director of the Division of Occupational Licensing for the Dept. of           
 Commerce and Economic Development, to testify on the bill.                    
 MR. LUCK stated the department was in favor of the recommendation             
 by the auditors to extend this board, and he commented on the                 
 fiscal note showing the revenues did not equal the annual cost of             
 the operations, until last May when the fees were adjusted for all            
 of the professions.  He explained that as all of the professions              
 renew their licenses their fees will cover the exact cost of                  
 operating each of the individual boards.                                      
 SENATOR KELLY questioned this change in fees, and MR. LUCK answered           
 it was pro-rationed for each individual board, explaining there               
 were now 32 separate budgets instead of one budget for the whole              
 Division of Occupational Licensing.  He explained the current                 
 budgeting process within the Division of Occupational Licensing.              
 SENATOR SALO questioned how a professional person would know how              
 much their license would cost.  MR. LUCK said the fees were set in            
 regulation, and he explained how they were established.  SENATOR              
 SALO asked what the fees are now, and MR. LUCK did not have that              
 information with him.  He offered to provide it to her, and she               
 SENATOR LINCOLN questioned the auditor's recommendation on the                
 extension of the Board of Pharmacy to June 30, 2003 and the date of           
 the bill as 1997.  She asked for the reason for the difference.               
 Number 051                                                                    
 MR. LUCK explained to SENATOR LINCOLN the governor had disagreed              
 with the recommendations from the Legislative Auditor to push the             
 licenses out to a 10 year window, because it would limit the                  
 governor's ability to cut costs or boards if needed.                          
 SENATOR KELLY quoted an auditor's report that a four year sunset is           
 one of the shortest in all the states, with most states having a              
 longer sunset provision.                                                      
 SENATOR LINCOLN asserted boards have been eliminated before their             
 expiration date.  SENATOR KELLY agreed the legislature could                  
 abolish the board any time they liked, and suggested an expiration            
 date of 2000.                                                                 
 The sponsor, REPRESENTATIVE PARNELL, had no problems with the                 
 extension, but he thought there was a statutory provision                     
 prohibiting a ten year extension.                                             
 SENATOR KELLY suggested using 1999, but returning to the original             
 if it was not possible.                                                       
 SENATOR LINCOLN referred to the fiscal note by COMMISSIONER PAUL              
 FUHS, and asked whether the fees would meet the cost.  MR. LUCK               
 assured her it was being done and explained how all the fees were             
 SENATOR RIEGER moved to amend the date to 1999 in HB 294 (EXTEND              
 THE BOARD OF PHARMACY).  Without objections, SENATOR KELLY                    
 announced the adoption of CSHB 294(L&C).                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE PARNELL testified that AS 44.66.010 speaks to the              
 termination of boards and commissions, with a process for                     
 termination.  He thought the statute gave the committee authority             
 to extend the date to 1999, and he thanked the committee.                     
 SENATOR SHARP moved to pass SENATE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 294(L&C)             
 (EXTEND THE BOARD OF PHARMACY) from committee with individual                 
 recommendations.  Without objections, so ordered.                             
 There being no further business to come before the committee, the             
 meeting was adjourned at 3:25 p.m. by SENATOR KELLY.                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects