Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/18/1997 01:34 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                 
 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                
  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             
 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.                                            

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