Legislature(1997 - 1998)
03/18/1997 01:34 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 March 18, 1997 1:34 P.M. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Loren Leman, Chairman Senator Jerry Mackie, Vice Chairman Senator Mike Miller Senator Tim Kelly MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Lyman Hoffman COMMITTEE CALENDAR Confirmation Hearing Board of Dental Examiners Dr. James Arneson - Kodiak Dr. James Clark - Anchorage Board of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Board Mr. Lawrence Seethaler - Anchorage Ms. Dee Berline - Anchorage Ms. Cary Keller - Fairbanks SENATE BILL NO. 90 "An Act relating to dental licensing; extending the termination date of the Board of Dental Examiners; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD SENATE BILL NO. 91 "An Act relating to the regulation of physical therapists and physical therapy assistants; extending the termination date of the State Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Board; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED CSSB 91(L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 115 "An Act repealing certain requirements relating to posting and reporting of prices paid for salmon." - MOVED SB 115 OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 90 - No previous action to consider. SB 91 - No previous action to consider. SB 115 - No previous action to consider. WITNESS REGISTER Ms. Catherine Reardon, Director Division of Occupational Licensing Department of Commerce and Economic Development P.O. Box 110806 Juneau, AK 99811-0806 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 90. Ms. Mary Veale Physical Therapist Juneau, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 91. Ms. Pauline Bennett-Gannon, President Alaska Occupational Therapy Association 1076 Willow Grouse Rd. Fairbanks, AK 99712 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 91. Mr. Rick Lauber Pacific Seafood Processors Association 321 Highland Dr. Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 115. Mr. Jerry McCune United Fishermen of Alaska 211 4th, #112 Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 115. Ms. Annette Kreitzer, Staff Senator Leman State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99811-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 90. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-12, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN LEMAN called the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee meeting to order at 1:34 p.m. and said they would have the confirmation hearings for the Board of Dental Examiners. DR. JAMES ARNESON, Kodiak, said he has practiced dentistry for over 13 years and has been an examiner for the State since 1993. He believes that all Alaskans deserve to receive the very best possible dental care. He said active involvement by Alaskan Board members in the testing agency assures our input into their decisions and he will continue to stay involved. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if there were any controversial issues before the Board, like licensing by credentials, that the legislature should be aware of. MR. ARNESON replied that he is a proponent of licensing by credentials because he believes that more access to care by experienced clinicians is of value for our State's residents. He believes the Board is working hard to create a regulation that will be workable with the public. SENATOR MACKIE noted that he was originally appointed by Governor Hickel and asked him how he felt about the current makeup of the Board. MR. ARNESON said he believed they have a good group with a wide range of views and regional balance. CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanked him for his comments and said they would take up SB 90 soon and invited him to listen and comment. DR. JAMES CLARK, Anchorage, said he went to school at the University of Oregon and was a general dentist for six years, three of those were in Anchorage for the Public Health Service. He later went into a specialty practice as an oral surgeon, training at the University of Michigan. He has been in Anchorage about 20 years and thought they have a good Board now and he is willing to serve for the benefit of his profession. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if there were any controversial issues the legislature should be aware of. DR. CLARK replied that they are working towards making their credentialing process a little more flexible and they have a bill submitted for public comment in the next couple of meetings. SB 90 DENTISTS: LICENSING & EXTEND EXAMINING BD MS. CATHERINE REARDON, Director, Division of Occupational Licensing, said the bill before the Committee is the extension of the termination date of the Board of Dental Examiners to the year 2003 (matching the audit), although the Committee has expressed interest in having four year extension dates instead. Section two also reflects an audit suggestion to increase the number of public members to two from one. Presently it is a nine member board, one public member, two dental hygienists, and six dentists. This bill would reduce it to five dentists, two public members, and two dental hygienists. Section five has transition language. Section three removes the requirement that a photograph be submitted with the application. Section four puts flexibility into statute in terms of licensure by credentials although they were told a few years ago they didn't have statutory authority to give them flexibility. Current statute says that requirements in our State have to match the requirements in the state the person is coming from. What usually arises with dentistry is that not all states offer the same dental exam. She said we use the Western Region Exam. The subject matter that tends to come up is endodontics which has to do with gums and root canals. So California, for instance, doesn't test on endodontics and we do. The problem has been that people coming in from those states can't say that their state had licensing requirements that were generally equivalent to this state. She thought Legislative Audit's language means to say if you are dismissing part of the test, if the Board doesn't believe the licensing requirements are equivalent in the other jurisdiction because certain subject matter is not included in the other tests, there are other ways of making it up. One could do some continuing education, in endodontics, for instance. Her opinion is that however it is resolved, either by statute or regulation, it would be to the benefit of Alaska if there were a way to test people coming into Alaska without them having to face entirely retaking their Boards which is very challenging 10 years out of dentist school. Number 220 SENATOR MACKIE moved on page 1, line 5 to delete "2003" and insert "2001." There were no objections and it was so adopted. SENATOR MACKIE asked for the rationale for going to five members versus six and two versus one for the public members. MS. REARDON explained that it was the desire to have two public members instead of one which meant reducing the number of dentists to keep the nine member board. DR. ARNESON said the only problem he has with the five versus six dentist members is that the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) requires dentists' and hygienists' input when they do tests - up to 16 or more per year and they pay the bill. They have to go down as providers to the tests two or three times per year. To make sure Alaska is represented it would be nice to have a dentist go to each test. Having one less dentist would make it difficult to have input. It is a big time commitment, but it is an important part of their involvement as examiners. MS. REARDON elaborated that Alaska is part of the Western Region Examining Board consortium; there are other consortiums. We don't offer the dental exam in Alaska because we have no dental schools and the Board expects its different member states to help with the development and administration of the exam. MR. RANDY WELKER, Legislative Auditor, explained that the reason they suggested adding a public member is because it is a large board and they have always promoted the concept of having a public disinterested member on the board. On this particular board he saw high absenteeism by the public member and felt it could support two public members. He said there has been a lot of controversy with the Dental Board and he thought that public representation is critical. He didn't see a problem with the swap and it's his policy approach when public members are added not to not increase the overall size of the board. In the past they felt the public's representation hadn't been there. SENATOR MACKIE asked when that would take effect. MR. WELKER said there is a transitional provision replacing the next vacancy on the Board in a dental position. So it doesn't require the removal of a member. SENATOR MACKIE asked if it would affect any current nominees. MR. WELKER replied no because the effective date is July 1, 1997. CHAIRMAN LEMAN said he was concerned if the Administration has not filled the existing public member position. The absenteeism argument rings hollow for him until that public member is replaced. MS. REARDON responded that the Governor's Office is attempting to fill vacancies as quickly as able. Number 380 DR. ARNESON responded that the lady they had was a really thoughtful and useful board member when she was there, but it was easy for her to not be present and she resigned in December before her term was up. His concern was that the public members were not as interested in dental issues as the professionals. This is why he would like to maintain the six dentist members. He thought they could find dentists with diverse views. MS. REARDON commented that many boards do have two public members. She hasn't had a problem with filling the WREB trip Outside at this point. MR. ARNESON replied that's because of people like him who make three trips a year on top of their Board meetings. MS. REARDON acknowledged that was true. SENATOR MACKIE said he would like to know from the Administration why they haven't appointed someone to the one public member seat that's there now and he'd like to hear whether is significant interest from the public, because he didn't want to end up with two vacant seats. CHAIRMAN LEMAN directed Ms. Reardon to get an answer from the Governor's Office regarding when the public seat would be filled. He set aside SB 90 until her return. Number 410 CHAIRMAN LEMAN said next they would take up the Board of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy. DR. LARRY SEETHALER, a reappointment, said he was a 20-year resident of Alaska and has practiced physical therapy the whole time he has been here. He said he would be willing to serve a second term and is the current chairman. He thought his services would be useful in the protection of the public with issues of competency, licensing, and evaluating physical therapists for licensure. There were no questions from the Committee. MR. SEETHALER said that Ms. Berline has served at only one meeting so far and seems competent and has good input. SENATOR KELLY said that she was his neighbor for 10 years and he would recommend her. DR. SEETHALER said that Dr. Keller has served the same time he has and has been a real asset to the Board and indicated he would be willing to serve a second term. CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanked everyone for their comments and said their confirmations would be taken up in a joint session of the legislature within the next two months. SB 91 PHYSICAL THERAPY AND OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced SB 91 to be up for consideration. MR. WELKER said it proposes two basic changes to statute. Section 1 has the extension date of 2003. Section 2 makes a minor correction change to the requirements for licensure. Statute requires that applicants pass an oral examination, for which English must be understood, administered by a Board member. These tests were being administered to Canadians who mostly speak English which seemed a little excessive. It was thought best to leave it to the discretion of the Board. SENATOR MACKIE moved on page 1, line 7 to delete "2003" and insert "2001." There were no objections and it was so adopted. MS. MARY VEALE, Alaska Chapter of the Physical Therapy Association, supported SB 91. MS. PAULINE BENNETT-GANNON, Occupational Therapist, testified that she had drafted amendments to SB 91 and reviewed them for the Committee. She said they didn't need the AMA information because AMA no longer approves the curriculum for occupational or physical therapists. It is now done by the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association. MR. SEETHALER said he had no problems with the changes to the bill suggested by Ms. Bennett-Gannon. MS. REARDON said she also had no problems with the suggested changes. MR. WELKER said that he was neutral. SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt amendment #2, adding Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants to the title amendment. There were no objections and it was so adopted. SENATOR MACKIE asked if amendment #3 changed the requirement to one accreditation of either the AMA or the Occupational Association. He moved to adopt the amendment. There were no objections and it was so adopted. TAPE 97-12, SIDE B SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt amendment #4. MS. REARDON said the Department suggested, in response to the audit, that requiring the test of English, in case someone is denied a license after an interview at which the Board just said they didn't think they could effectively speak English, is better than having the Board giving an oral exam. An oral test is very subjective and there may be challenges. She noted that there are very few of our occupations for which the ability to speak English is required. It's not mentioned of doctors and dentists. SENATOR MACKIE said if they were challenged because they denied a license to someone who couldn't communicate with their patients, he would welcome that. CHAIRMAN LEMAN said he thought this was something the Board could deal with by regulation if it wanted to identify how it conducts that interview and what procedure is used. There were no objections to amendment #4 and it was so adopted. SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt amendment #5. There were no objections and it was so adopted. SENATOR MACKIE moved to pass CSSB 91(L&C) from Committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying $0 fiscal note. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SB 115 DISCLOSURE OF SALMON PRICES CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced SB 115 to be up for consideration. SENATOR MACKIE said he was asked by the UFA to introduce this legislation. He explained that requiring fish prices to be posted by processors seemed like a good idea, at first, but it doesn't work because it's difficult for processors to post firm prices until well into the season without being exposed to serious business risks. This is primarily because of the uncertainty of harvest volumes along with volatility of salmon markets. As a consequence the price quote was usually at an absolute minimum until wholesale market price could be determined. He said he knew of no opposition to the bill. Number 546 MR. RICK LAUBER, Pacific Seafood Processors Association, supported SB 115. They opposed the original bill, not because they had problems with it, but because it could be potentially harmful and send the wrong message (a beginning low price) to the market. The original bill contained a good provision providing for an independent body to attempt to determine what the market conditions were prior to the season and the University of Alaska does this. MR. JERRY MCCUNE, United Fishermen of Alaska, said there was a lot of confusion among the user groups and thanked Senator Mackie for introducing this bill. SENATOR KELLY asked if fishermen negotiated individually with buyers. MR. MCCUNE replied that everybody gets the same price unless a group of fishermen might cut a special deal for a special market. SENATOR KELLY said he was concerned that some of the less business oriented fishermen could be taken advantage of. SENATOR MACKIE explained that if the price is posted, the final price never really comes out till the end of the season. MR. MCCUNE said in Cordova on the Copper River the price might change every hour or two, because they fish for 24 hours. The price on the fresh market is changing, but the price on the wholesale market in Bristol Bay where they are frozen and sent to Japan might not be determined until they get the final price. He explained that posting just alerts everybody else, including everyone in Japan, about where the price is going to end up. It doesn't create any competitive situation at all. SENATOR MACKIE moved to pass SB 115 from Committee with individual recommendations and a $0 fiscal note. There were no objections and it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced SB 90 to be back before the Committee. H informed them that Ann McCoy resigned on December 2, 1996. MS. REARDON confirmed that and said she was an appointee from the previous administration and reported that Ms. Cindy Smith, Boards and Commissions, said she had two people under consideration for public seats. MS. REARDON explained that people don't necessarily apply to be public members on a specific board, they generally apply to be public members. SENATOR KELLY said that over the years he has come to distrust the public board membership stuff, anyway. The idea that someone is supposed to represent the public who knows nothing about the particular occupation or industry doesn't make a lot of sense to him, he said. SENATOR MILLER agreed with Senator Kelly. SENATOR MILLER moved to delete sections 2 and 5 and anything that deals with the additional board member. There were no objections and it was so adopted. MS. ANNETTE KREITZER, Staff to Senator Leman, said the next amendment parallels some of the language that is found in medical statutes under 08.64.326 (8)a and speaks to the Board not basing a finding of failing to conform to professional standards of dentistry solely on the grounds that the dentist practices unconventional or experimental dentistry and adds sections 6 and 7. CHAIRMAN LEMAN said he understood this to be consistent with Title 8 regarding doctors and he asked if the Board now brings disciplinary action against dentists who espouse unconventional practices with the replacement of mercury fillings. MS. REARDON said she researched this last year and at that time the Board had never charged anyone with incompetence based on replacing mercury fillings. SENATOR KELLY assured them that this was a controversial issue in past sessions. CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced that the Committee would hold the bill over with the pending amendment until the next meeting and adjourned the meeting at 2:45 p.m.