Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/03/1997 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                             
                         April 3, 1997                                         
                           1:35 P.M.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Senator Loren Leman, Chairman                                                 
 Senator Jerry Mackie, Vice Chairman                                           
 Senator Tim Kelly                                                             
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                         
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 Confirmation Hearing:                                                         
  Real state Commission                                                        
   Ruth Blackwell - Juneau                                                     
  Board of Nursing                                                             
   Josephine Malemute - Fairbanks                                              
  Board of Examiners in Optometry                                              
   William D. Faulkner - Anchorage                                             
   Aharon Sternberg - Anchorage                                                
  Certified Direct Entry Midwives                                              
   Kay Kanne - Juneau                                                          
   Pam Weaver - Chugiak                                                        
   Mark Richey - Anchorage                                                     
 SENATE BILL NO. 92                                                            
 "An Act relating to veterinarians; extending the termination date             
 of the Board of Veterinary Examiners; and providing for an                    
 effective date."                                                              
  - MOVED CSSB 92(L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                        
 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."                                                              
  - MOVED CSSB 90(L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                        
 SENATE BILL NO. 104                                                           
 "An Act relating to regulation and examination of insurers and                
 insurance agents; relating to kinds of insurance; relating to                 
 payment of insurance taxes and to required insurance reserves;                
 relating to insurance policies; relating to regulation of capital,            
 surplus, and investments by insurers; relating to hospital and                
 medical service corporations; and providing for an effective date."           
  - MOVED CSSB 104(L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                       
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SB 92 - See Labor and Commerce Committee minutes dated 3/6/97 and             
 SB 90 - See Labor and Commerce Committee minutes dated 3/18/97.               
 SB 104 - See Labor and Commerce Committee minutes dated 3/25/97.              
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Ms. Annette Kreitzer, Staff                                                   
 Senate Labor and Commerce Committee                                           
 State Capitol Bldg.                                                           
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Staff to sponsor of SB 92.                             
 Dr. Burton Miller                                                             
 2600 Denali St, Ste 500                                                       
 Anchorage, AK 99503                                                           
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 90.                                       
 Mr. Charlie Brown                                                             
 Consumer Dental Choice Project                                                
 Washington, D.C.                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 90.                                       
 Ms. Martha Reinbold, Director                                                 
 Alaska Dental Society                                                         
 3305 Arctic Blvd.                                                             
 Anchorage, AK 99503                                                           
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Commented on SB 90.                                    
 Mr. Scott Crowther                                                            
 P.O. Box 110854                                                               
 Anchorage, AK 99511-0854                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 90.                                       
 Ms. Marianne Burke, Director                                                  
 Division of Insurance                                                         
 Department of Commerce and Economic Development                               
 P.O. Box 110805                                                               
 Juneau, AK 998811-0805                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported CSSB 104(L&C).                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
  TAPE 97-15, SIDE A                                                           
 Number 001                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN  called the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee               
 meeting to order at 1:35 p.m. and said they would begin with the              
 confirmation hearings.  He said the nominee for the Real Estate               
 Commission, Ruth Blackwell, was not able to be with them today and            
 asked Ms. Josephine Malemute, Board of Nursing, to give them some             
 brief highlights and her reasons for wanting to serve on the Board.           
  MS. JOSEPHINE MALEMUTE  said she is currently working as the                 
 Clinical Health Director of Nursing and she is interested in                  
 advocating not only for the Fairbanks region, but Interior Alaska.            
 She serves on a lot of boards and committees within the Fairbanks             
 area already and has learned a lot being on the Board of Nursing              
 which is a very good board to work with.                                      
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked her if there were any issues she was aware of            
 that needed to be addressed legislatively.  MS. MALEMUTE said the             
 biggest thing they deal with now is unlicensed persons working,               
 especially in the long-term care facilities.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN                  
 thanked her for serving and said the committee would forward her              
 name to the full Senate.                                                      
  MR. AHARON STERNBERG,  Board of Examiners in Optometry, said he was          
 born in Israel in 1946 and came to this country in 1967, after the            
 six-day war.  He reviewed his resume for the committee.  He said he           
 is familiar with optometry, icthamology and opticianry and has a              
 good relationship with professionals in all three fields.  He                 
 thought HB 195 contained some controversial issues and thought he             
 could contribute more than someone who is not familiar with adult             
 professionals.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanked him for his willingness to             
  DR. WILLIAM FAULKNER , Board of Examiners of Optometry, briefly              
 reviewed his resume.  He noted that Dr. Sternberg is in a big                 
 multi-disciplinary practice and he has his perspectives and he,               
 personally, could offer the perspective of a solo practitioner in             
 addressing the Board's concerns.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if there               
 were any issues that would be significant to the legislature.  DR.            
 FAULKNER replied that they are updating the optometry law (HB 195)            
 which is good.  He said he was interested in providing a good                 
 quality of service to his patients and continuity of care at a                
 reasonable price.                                                             
  MR. MARK RICHEY, M.D.,  Certified Direct Entry Midwives, reviewed            
 his resume.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanked him for his willingness to                
 Number 300                                                                    
  MS. PAM WEAVER,  Certified Direct Entry Midwives, reviewed her               
 resume for the committee.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanked her for her                 
 willingness to serve.                                                         
  MS. KAYE KANNE  reviewed her midwifery background.  She said she             
 would like to continue to serve on the Board as she has in the                
 past.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked her if the Board was working as well as           
 they had planned when they did the legislation.  She said it is and           
 she thought it would be really good to have Mark Richey on the                
  SENATOR MACKIE  asked if she worked by herself.  She answered that           
 she had a partner in the beginning, but has been by herself for               
 quite a few years now.  She was just joined by a nurse midwife.               
 She said she delivers an average of three babies per month.                   
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanked her for her willingness to serve.                      
 SENATOR MACKIE moved to submit for confirmation consideration:                
 Ruth Blackwell, Real Estate Commission; Josephine Malemute, Board             
 of Nursing; Dr. Bill Faulkner and Aharon Sternberg, Board of                  
 Examiners in Optometry; Kay Kanne, Pam Weaver, and Mark Richey,               
 Direct Entry Midwives.  There were no objections and it was so                
         SB  92 BOARD OF VETERINARY EXAMINERS; LICENSE                        
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced  SB 92  to be up for consideration.                  
  MS. ANNETTE KREITZER,  Staff to Labor and Commerce Committee,                
 explained there was a new CS before them labeled LS0595B.    She said         
 there was some concern that veterinarians hadn't been consulted, so           
 she has spoken with eight or nine veterinarians.  She said the                
 committee had been concerned that veterinarians graduate from an              
 accredited veterinary school and that is the case in the CS.  She             
 said the CS also changes the State exam to make it specific to                
 Alaska issues of veterinary practice and not all of the                       
 veterinarians agree or disagree with that.                                    
 The feeling from the Division is if you're going to graduate from             
 an accredited school, take the National Board Exam, pass the                  
 clinical competency test, and take the State exam it should be                
 focused on issues that are pertinent to the State of Alaska.  The             
 bill also adds pay required fees.                                             
 MS. KREITZER said under licensing by credentials that section 3 is            
 conforming to sections 1 and 2.                                               
  SENATOR MACKIE  moved to adopt the CS to SB 92.  There were no               
 objections and it was so ordered.                                             
  SENATOR KELLY  asked if the State test was a new requirement now.            
 MS. KREITZER replied that it's not new; some of the questions on              
 it, however, would be and were going to be specific to Alaska                 
 SENATOR KELLY asked how people were supposed to know about Alaska             
 issues without living here for a long time.  MS. KREITZER said that           
 would be a question for Dr. Brasler, Anchorage Veterinary                     
 Association.  She has been advised that this is the practice in               
 Colorado and other states.                                                    
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN commented that in the practice of engineering and              
 architecture people at least have to take an arctic engineering               
 class and pass that or write a paper on the topic.  So people from            
 out of State have some training in cold weather.  SENATOR MACKIE              
 said he would like to see an example of what a specific Alaska                
 issue is.                                                                     
 MS. KREITZER replied that some veterinarians suggested rabies, some           
 of the things that happen along the Iditarod Trail, and cold                  
 weather situations specific to Alaska animals.  Their point is that           
 veterinarians who are treating animals in Alaska should have the              
 training to deal with them whether they are getting licensed for              
 the first time or coming in under credentialling.                             
 SENATOR MACKIE said he wants the bill they pass to give the                   
 opportunity for those who are qualified and trained and for us to             
 have a conducive atmosphere to invite people to come and practice             
 MS. KREITZER explained that some veterinarians think the required             
 State test is redundant to the other tests given and there is                 
 concern with the purpose of the State test.  Of the nine                      
 veterinarians she spoke with they all agreed that it is supposed to           
 test veterinarians to practice within this State.                             
 Number 424                                                                    
 SENATOR KELLY said his concern was that Alaska veterinarians would            
 not necessarily want or encourage competition from outside                    
 applicants and might make the test difficult to pass.                         
 SENATOR MACKIE said he didn't like specific Alaska language and               
 asked how it is currently.  MS. KREITZER said that she tried to               
 follow the committee's wishes and spoke with several veterinarians            
 and could not get consensus on this issue.  There is disagreement             
 about whether the State test is redundant.                                    
 Number 449                                                                    
 DR. JOHN BASLER, Anchorage Veterinarian Association, said he is not           
 representing the Anchorage Veterinarians per se.  He is president             
 of the Alaska State Veterinary Medical Association and on behalf of           
 their executive board, this is a new enough issue that they have              
 not had a board meeting to discuss it.  He has polled about 2/3 of            
 the board and their feeling is that they don't have any major                 
 objections to the current version.  They, however, request the                
 right to comment further after a meeting of the board.                        
 MR. BASLER said the main area of concern was the first graduate               
 section and Alaska specific issues.  He added that there is a                 
 separate Alaska State Board exam that is given twice yearly which             
 veterinarians have to pass in order to practice here.  Putting                
 Alaska issues in would cover some specific disease processes within           
 the State, some of which would be pertinent for outside                       
 veterinarians.  The easiest one might be rabies in which case there           
 are a number of different factors in different areas of the                   
 country, including Alaska, and that would be important for a                  
 veterinarian to know wherever they are coming from. He didn't know            
 what the passage rate for the State test was here, but in                     
 California there is a 30% failure rate.                                       
 SENATOR MACKIE asked what he thought of in section 3 after "has               
 passed the written examination of the State" inserting "Board, and            
 has been provided orientation..." on specific issues of veterinary            
 practice.  MR. BASLER responded that orientation is already                   
 provided.  The concern is with people coming up being knowledgeable           
 about issues here.  SENATOR MACKIE explained his concern is the               
 potential to make the test so stringent that it would be close to             
 impossible to pass it.                                                        
 MR. BASLER said he thought the main reason for passage of this bill           
 was not to address this issue, but to make it easier for licensing            
 by credentials.                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN noted that people with driver's licenses from other            
 states have to pass an exam to get a license in Alaska.                       
 SENATOR MACKIE moved to pass CSSB 92(L&C) from committee with                 
 individual recommendations.  There were no objections and it was so           
        SB  90 DENTISTS: LICENSING & EXTEND EXAMINING BD                      
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced  SB 90  to be up for consideration and said          
 in a previous meeting there was discussion about reducing the                 
 number of dentists from six to five and the grounds for discipline.           
 The committee adopted an amendment deleting sections 2 and 5,                 
 leaving the Board at six dentists.  Another amendment that was                
 offered was taken out of the physician statutes regarding                     
 unconventional experimental practices.  The core of the issue was             
 mercury amalgam fillings and other restorative materials.                     
 SENATOR KELLY moved to bring amendment, Lauterback 4/3/97 A.2                 
 version, before the committee for discussion.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN                 
 explained this was similar to language adopted in at least one                
 other state.                                                                  
  DR. BURT MILLER  said that life is a learning process and this is            
 reflected in the issue of using mercury/amalgam as a dental filling           
 material.   It consists of approximately 50% mercury which is more            
 toxic than lead, cadmium, or arsenic.  The EPA states that the                
 maximum safety limit for mercury vapors is 10 micrograms per day              
 and mercury forms a vapor at 10 degrees fahrenheit.  They have been           
 documented between one and 29 micrograms per day.  He read a long             
 list of doctors who disagreed with the American Dental                        
 Association's conclusion on the safety of mercury amalgam fillings.           
 TAPE 97-15, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 580                                                                    
 DR. MILLER said that the latest news and magazine polls indicate              
 that 50% of the American public are skewing toward alternative                
 medicine - outside of the dental and medical establishment.  An               
 informed group of people in Colorado and their state Attorney                 
 General demonstrated to the Colorado Board of Dental Examiners that           
 the American Dental Association (ADA) was not the expert counsel on           
 amalgam that the board assumed it to be.  The American Dental                 
 Association is a trade association that has never conducted any               
 primary research into the safety of mercury amalgam and the ADA had           
 either withheld or distorted vital information.  He concluded                 
 saying that he supported SB 90, especially sections 6 and 7.                  
 Number 573                                                                    
  MR. CHARLIE BROWN,  former Attorney General of West Virginia, said           
 there are many kinds of dentistry; some want to use just gold, some           
 want to use amalgam, and some want to use composite fillings.  He             
 said this bill doesn't take sides on the mercury debate.  It allows           
 the consumers, competition, and dentists to make that decision.  It           
 doesn't affect their battle against fraud which can happen with any           
 kind of dentist.  He urged them to take this out of the social                
 debate and keep it in the scientific debate letting consumers                 
 decide what they want to do with their lives.                                 
  MS. MARTHA REINBOLD,  Director, Alaska Dental Society, said that she         
 is an administrator and represents what the profession of dentistry           
 feels to the ADA.  She said they are concerned with proposed                  
 amendment, section 5(b), because of what the ADA Code of Ethics               
 says, "The removal of amalgam restoration from the non-allergic               
 patient for the alleged purpose of removing toxic substances from             
 the body when such treatment is performed solely at the                       
 recommendation or suggestion of the dentist is improper and                   
 unethical.  A dentist who represents a dental treatment recommended           
 or performed by the dentist has the capacity to cure or alleviate             
 diseases, infections, or other conditions, when such                          
 representations are not based upon accepted scientific knowledge or           
 research, is acting unethically."                                             
 MS. REINBOLD said the amendment was confusing as written.  She                
 suggested clarifying the use of "remove" or "place," "recommended             
 the removal" or "recommended placement."  She asked that wording be           
 used that would comply with the Code of Ethics.                               
  MR. SCOTT CROWTHER,  Palmer civil engineer, said he is an amalgam            
 victim and he works with a consumer's dental choice project to                
 promote a level playing field between mercury free dentists and               
 other dentists in our State.  He noted that he had a lot of science           
 with him on the issue and there are two disturbing things about the           
 use of mercury amalgam for fillings.  One is that the mercury that            
 leaks out of amalgam crosses into the placenta and into the tissue            
 of a developing fetus which results in birth defects.  He said that           
 Germany has commenced its phase-out of using amalgam for fillings             
 based on a conclusive study on this.                                          
 MR. CROWTHER said that an on-going study at the University of                 
 Kentucky has documented the fact that mercury leaves the amalgam              
 and goes into brain tissue and once it does this, it damages the              
 tubuli, our memory cells - damage that is identical to what you               
 find in Alzheimer's disease.  A correlation has been found between            
 the number of amalgams and length of mercury exposure to the amount           
 of mercury in the brains of 100 autopsied Alzheimer's victims.                
 Regarding the code of ethics and advocating the removal of amalgam,           
 he said, SB 90 would allow acknowledgement that these things are              
 happening and allow the issue to go back into the professional                
 SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt amendment #3 to SB 90.  There were no           
 objections and it was so ordered.                                             
 SENATOR MACKIE moved to pass the CSSB 90(L&C) from committee with             
 individual recommendations and the accompanying $0 fiscal note.               
 There were no objections and it was so ordered.                               
                SB 104 OMNIBUS INSURANCE REFORM                             
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced  SB 104  to be up for consideration.               
 SENATOR KELLY moved to adopt CSSB 104(L&C).  There were no                    
 objections and it was so ordered.                                             
 Number 440                                                                    
  MS. MARIANNE BURKE,  Director, Division of Insurance, said after the         
 last meeting on this issue they received a fax from the Health                
 Insurance Association of America, which represents 65% of the                 
 insurance writers in the country.  They offered some minor                    
 wordsmithing and technical amendments which she absolutely agrees             
 with.  MS. KREITZER noted that all of those changes had been                  
 incorporated into the CS.                                                     
 SENATOR MACKIE moved to pass CSSB 104(L&C) from committee with                
 individual recommendations with the accompanying fiscal notes.                
 There were no objections and it was so ordered.                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN adjourned the meeting at 2:41 p.m.                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects