Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/07/2002 01:35 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                    
                SENATE LABOR & COMMERCE COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 7, 2002                                                                                        
                            1:35 p.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Ben Stevens, Chair                                                                                                      
Senator Alan Austerman                                                                                                          
Senator Loren Leman                                                                                                             
Senator John Torgerson                                                                                                          
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All Members Present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 244                                                                                                             
"An Act extending the termination date of the Board of Examiners                                                                
in Optometry; and relating to optometrists."                                                                                    
     MOVED CSSB 244 (L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                      
SENATE BILL NO. 257                                                                                                             
"An Act extending the termination date of the Board of                                                                          
Professional Counselors."                                                                                                       
     MOVED CSSB 257 (L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                      
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 12                                                                                              
Relating to the preservation of employment opportunities for                                                                    
United States longshoremen with respect to unloading and loading                                                                
of foreign vessels.                                                                                                             
     MOVED HCR 12 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                              
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
SB 244 - See Labor and Commerce minutes dated 1/31/02.                                                                          
SB 257 - No previous action to consider.                                                                                        
HCR 12 - No previous action to consider.                                                                                        
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
 Ms. Heather Brakes                                                                                                             
Staff to Senator Therriault                                                                                                     
State Capitol Bldg.                                                                                                             
Juneau AK 99811                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 244 for sponsor.                                                                          
Dr. Christianson, Chair                                                                                                         
Board of Examiners and Opticians                                                                                                
Off net                                                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported CSSB 244 (L&C).                                                                                 
Ms. Deborah Grundmann                                                                                                           
Staff to Senator Stevens                                                                                                        
State Capitol Bldg.                                                                                                             
Juneau AK 99811                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 257 for sponsor.                                                                          
Ms. Catherine Reardon, Director                                                                                                 
Division of Occupational Licensing                                                                                              
Department of Community and Economic Development                                                                                
P.O. Box 110806                                                                                                                 
Juneau AK 99811                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 257.                                                                                      
Mr. Tim Benintendi                                                                                                              
Staff to Representative Moses                                                                                                   
State Capitol Bldg.                                                                                                             
Juneau AK 99811                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HCR 12 for the sponsor.                                                                      
Mr. Pete Hendrickson                                                                                                            
Former President                                                                                                                
Long Shore Union                                                                                                                
Dutch Harbor AK                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HCR 12.                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 02-3, SIDE A                                                                                                             
Number 001                                                                                                                      
          SB 244-OPTOMETRISTS: SUNSET AND MISCELLANEOUS                                                                     
CHAIRMAN BEN STEVENS called the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee                                                             
meeting to order at 1:35 p.m. and announced SB 244 to be up for                                                                 
SENATOR AUSTERMAN moved to adopt CSSB 244 (L&C), 22-LS1267\C,                                                                   
There were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                 
MS. HEATHER BRAKES,  Staff to Senator Therriault,  Chairman of the                                                              
Budget and  Audit Committee and sponsor  of SB 244,  explained the                                                              
changes  in   the  committee  substitute.  Section   2  implements                                                              
recommendation  #4 of the  Audit Report  eliminating reference  to                                                              
the  state  exam  and  mandates  an  exam  designed  to  test  the                                                              
applicants' knowledge of Alaska's law in optometry.                                                                             
Section 3 addresses  recommendation #2 of the  Audit, implementing                                                              
full licensure by credentials with  requirements acceptable to the                                                              
Board,  such  as education,  current  licensure,  active  clinical                                                              
practice   and  no   pending  disciplinary   actions  in   another                                                              
Section 4 has no changes from the previous hearing.                                                                             
She  worked  on  this  language   with  the  Legislative  Auditor,                                                              
Director  of Occupational  Licensing and  Dr. Christianson  on the                                                              
Board of Examiners and Optometry.                                                                                               
DR. CHRISTIANSON said the Board could live with this language.                                                                  
SENATOR  DAVIS moved  to adopt  amendment #1  which inserts:  "The                                                              
department  may require the  applicant to  submit a photograph  of                                                              
the applicant  for its  files, however the  photograph may  not be                                                              
forwarded with the application to the board for review."                                                                        
SENATOR LEMAN commented:                                                                                                        
     I think we're  making much ado about  nothing…If someone                                                                   
     comes into an  office and interviews for a  job, you see                                                                   
     what  they look  like. You see  a person.  I don't  know                                                                   
     where  the thought  is coming  from,  that somebody  has                                                                   
     this idea and this amendment  is sort of propagating it,                                                                   
     that if we  see what somebody looks like,  then we might                                                                   
     discriminate against  them. Maybe because I  don't think                                                                   
     that  way, I  don't  know why  others  are so  concerned                                                                   
     about it, but maybe this is  a problem in the workplace.                                                                   
     I don't know.                                                                                                              
SENATOR DAVIS stated:                                                                                                           
     When we received  this package, it was  recommended that                                                                   
     it not be  in there at all. Upon your amendment,  it was                                                                   
     taken out. I  feel that it should be changed.  I was the                                                                   
     only one  that felt that it  should have stayed  the way                                                                   
     it was  and I was willing  to bring back  this amendment                                                                   
     this way  rather than  do it  somewhere else. Because  I                                                                   
     see that there's nothing wrong  with this going in there                                                                   
     that  way.  I  don't  know   if  somebody  is  going  to                                                                   
     discriminate  or not discriminate,  but they could.  And                                                                   
     even though  you might  not feel  that way doesn't  mean                                                                   
     that everybody  else feels that  way. I didn't  say that                                                                   
     you  took   it  out  because  you  were   discriminating                                                                   
     against.  I felt  that what  you did was  making an  ado                                                                   
     about nothing when  you three men voted to  take it out,                                                                   
     but since  I was in the  minority, you had the  vote; it                                                                   
     came out.  So, now I'm bringing  it back in  a different                                                                   
     manner.  You  would still  have  a  picture there  so  a                                                                   
     person could  be identified when they get  ready to take                                                                   
     the test.  Somebody can  identify who  they are. I  fill                                                                   
     out applications  all the time  and nobody has  asked me                                                                   
     to give a picture. So, what's  so good about having that                                                                   
     stuck in here.  Around the nation they're  not doing it.                                                                   
     The National  Board does not  recommend that that  be in                                                                   
     there. So we're doing something  over and above what the                                                                   
     National Board wants. I take  exception to the fact that                                                                   
     you would  say that I'm  making much ado about  nothing,                                                                   
     because I  could say the very  same thing when  you made                                                                   
     the motion last week.                                                                                                      
SENATOR LEMAN responded: "You just proved my point."                                                                            
CHAIRMAN  STEVENS  asked if  there  were any  further  objections.                                                              
There were no objections and amendment #1 was adopted.                                                                          
SENATOR  AUSTERMAN moved  to pass  CSSB 244  (L&C) from  committee                                                              
with individual  recommendations. There were no  objections and it                                                              
was so ordered.                                                                                                                 
         SB 257-EXTEND BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS                                                                     
MS.  DEBORAH GRUNDMANN,  Staff  to Senator  Stevens,  said SB  257                                                              
extends the  Board of  Professional Counselors  to June  30, 2005.                                                              
The Legislative Budget  and Audit Committee said  their opinion is                                                              
that the  Professional  Counselors are operating  in an  efficient                                                              
and  effective  manner  and  should  continue  to  regulate  their                                                              
profession.  They also  recommended  that this  board be  combined                                                              
with the Board of Marital and Family  Therapists. This legislation                                                              
does not do that, but it extends  the sunset date to coincide with                                                              
that of the marital and family therapists.                                                                                      
MS.  GRUNDMANN explained  that the  proposed committee  substitute                                                              
addresses the education  part of the statute that  pertains to the                                                              
professional counselors  and was inserted in the  House version of                                                              
the same bill.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR DAVIS moved  to adopt the committee substitute  to SB 257,                                                              
22 LS\1336\F. There were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                   
MS. GRUNDMANN said  that page 2, line 11 adds  "or nationally" and                                                              
the  Department wanted  that. It  makes  that language  consistent                                                              
with "(B) regionally or nationally accredited".                                                                                 
CHAIRMAN STEVENS asked if it's a  nationally accredited institute,                                                              
isn't it redundant to say "regionally or nationally".                                                                           
MS.  CATHERINE   REARDON,  Director,   Division  of   Occupational                                                              
Licensing,  replied  that  there  are  two  different  accrediting                                                              
bodies - some  are regional and some are national.  The reason she                                                              
was asking  for this is  the House opened  up that section  and it                                                              
seemed like an easy  way to bring it up. For  the master's degree,                                                              
the statute allowed the national  accredited agrees, but there was                                                              
a slip up in the initial legislation  and "national" got left out.                                                              
The Department  of Law  told the  Board that it  would be  on weak                                                              
legal  ground  if  it  were to  deny  someone  because  they  were                                                              
nationally, not regionally, accredited.                                                                                         
SENATOR LEMAN supported this change.                                                                                            
SENATOR  AUSTERMAN moved  to pass  CSSB 257  (L&C) from  committee                                                              
with individual  recommendations and  the fiscal note.  There were                                                              
no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                            
           HCR 12-FOREIGN SHIPS AND U.S. LONGSHOREMEN                                                                       
CHAIRMAN STEVENS announced HCR 12 to be up for consideration.                                                                   
MR. TIM BENINTENDI, Staff to Representative  Moses, sponsor of HCR                                                              
12,  said this  resolution  addresses a  long-standing  unresolved                                                              
national labor  issue which affects Alaskans  whereby longshoremen                                                              
stand  idle while  ships of  foreign registry  from countries  not                                                              
part of  labor reciprocity agreements  reflag their  cargo vessels                                                              
as they pull  into Alaskan ports. The problem  is especially acute                                                              
in Dutch  Harbor. The  ships do this  so that  they can  use their                                                              
own, often unskilled  and untrained, crews to load  and unload the                                                              
The  reciprocity agreements  and the  exceptions to  them and  the                                                              
enforcement activity  and the practice of reflagging  are supposed                                                              
to be  enforced by  the State  Department. The  loopholes this  is                                                              
addressing  skirt the  intention  of the  U.S. law.  HCR 12  would                                                              
petition Congress and our State Department  to close the loopholes                                                              
exploited by the reflagging activities.                                                                                         
SENATOR  STEVENS  asked  where  the   ships  would  reflag  before                                                              
entering U.S. waters.                                                                                                           
MR. BENINTENDI replied  that we have agreements  with some nations                                                              
to use their  labor when our ships  are in their ports  and we use                                                              
our labor  when their ships  are in our  ports and then  there are                                                              
countries that  aren't part  of these  agreements. The  problem is                                                              
when there  are ships  from countries  that aren't  part of  these                                                              
agreements.  As they  approach a  port, they simply  reflag  to be                                                              
able to use  their cheaper and  less skilled labor. It  saves them                                                              
money and puts Alaskans  out of work. When they pull  out of port,                                                              
they can literally take the flag  down and run their own flag back                                                              
up. He said this has been an issue for about 20 years.                                                                          
CHAIRMAN STEVENS  asked how  much of the  Bering Sea  pollock that                                                              
goes over seas  is being loaded on the vessels  that reflag before                                                              
they enter U.S. waters.                                                                                                         
MR.  BENINTENDI replied  that  he  didn't know  for  sure, but  he                                                              
thought it was most of our production.                                                                                          
SENATOR TORGERSON  asked if this affects the three-mile  limit and                                                              
don't they load some of these boats a ways off-shore.                                                                           
CHAIRMAN STEVENS replied that doesn't happen too much any more.                                                                 
MR.  BENINTENDI added  that  there is  an  Alaskan exception  from                                                              
1993, which says the ships can use  their own labor if there isn't                                                              
sufficient  local  labor, but  in  Dutch  Harbor labor  is  always                                                              
available.   The  Alaskan   exception   is   designed  for   small                                                              
communities  like Togiak  where there  are  no longshore  workers.                                                              
This  is not  a problem  there, but  reflagging is  being done  in                                                              
Dutch Harbor, Kodiak and Seward.                                                                                                
SENATOR TORGESRON  asked why the  city doesn't sign  project labor                                                              
agreements with the longshoremen.                                                                                               
MR. BENINTENDI said he didn't know why.                                                                                         
SENATOR   TORGERSON  asked   if   Dutch  Harbor   supported   this                                                              
MR. BENINTENDI said  yes. He explained that Mr.  Pete Hendrickson,                                                              
former President of the Longshoremen's  Union in Dutch Harbor,  is                                                              
in  Washington,  D.C.  visiting the  Alaskan  delegation  on  this                                                              
issue. The unions,  both regional and national,  have participated                                                              
exhaustively over the years on this issue.                                                                                      
MR. PETE HENDRICKSON  said he is currently  representing Longshore                                                              
workers throughout Alaska on the international executive board.                                                                 
     Over the  last three  years, a  large number of  foreign                                                                   
     trampers visiting  our waters to load seafood  bound for                                                                   
     Europe  and Asia have  been filing  for the  reciprocity                                                                   
     exception to  the Immigration and Nationality  Act. They                                                                   
     can  then displace  Alaskan longshore  workers by  using                                                                   
     their own crewmembers to work  cargo on the ship side of                                                                   
     loading    operations.   This    is   accomplished    by                                                                   
     representing  to  the  Immigration   and  Naturalization                                                                   
     Service  that  their  flag   of  registry  and  majority                                                                   
     ownership are from countries  that currently qualify for                                                                   
     this  exception.  The  most  common  registries  do  not                                                                   
     In  virtually all  cases, the vessels  in question  have                                                                   
     changed  their flag just  prior to  arrival in order  to                                                                   
     file for  this exception,  but the  result has been  the                                                                   
     loss of thousands of hours of  work for Alaskans and has                                                                   
     resulted  in  loss  of  cargo   and  profits  for  those                                                                   
     American  companies and foreign  vessels that do  employ                                                                   
     us, but cannot effective compete  against foreign labor.                                                                   
     We believe  the reciprocity  exception no longer  serves                                                                   
     any  useful   purpose  for   the  United  States   since                                                                   
     apparently   no  American  seafarers   do  any   loading                                                                   
     elsewhere in the world any more  anyway. As we have seen                                                                   
     here in Alaska, all this does  is provide a mechanism by                                                                   
     which  certain parties  can  exploit  this exception  in                                                                   
     order to avoid Alaskan labor.                                                                                              
     Further,  in the early  1990s we  were able to  convince                                                                   
     Congress  to   create  what  is  known  as   the  Alaska                                                                   
     exception to the Immigration  and Nationality Act, which                                                                   
     provides  for the  loading work  to be  done by  foreign                                                                   
     crew if Alaskan longshore workers  are unavailable. This                                                                   
     guarantees that the work will  always get done, which is                                                                   
     critical  to  the fishing  industry.  Our  congressional                                                                   
     delegation  was instrumental  in accomplishing this  and                                                                   
     particularly  Senator  Stevens   was  involved  in  that                                                                   
     effort then.                                                                                                               
     Therefore,  we  don't think  the  reciprocity  exception                                                                   
     should really  apply to Alaska.  The alternative,  if we                                                                   
     must live  with this  exception is to  amend it  so that                                                                   
     application is  more true to the original  intent and it                                                                   
     cannot  be misused  as  it is  today.  In  our view  and                                                                   
     exception is the best solution.                                                                                            
He  said that  he is  in  Washington D.C.  talking  with the  U.S.                                                              
Department of  State and our  congressional delegation  about this                                                              
growing problem. Alaska Department  of Labor Commissioner Flanagan                                                              
is also involved. "We think your  support of our efforts to either                                                              
exempt  Alaska or  revised the  law  will be  instrumental to  our                                                              
success as  we continue to work  toward solution to what  can only                                                              
be called a scam…"                                                                                                              
SENATOR  TORGERSON said  he thought  flagging a  vessel had  to do                                                              
with the country of registry. He asked if that was true.                                                                        
MR. HENDRICKSON replied that he is  correct, that the registry and                                                              
flag are generally of the same country.                                                                                         
SENATOR  TORGERSON asked  how they  could change  their flag  when                                                              
they come into port.                                                                                                            
MR.   HENDRICKSON  replied   that   vessels  infrequently   change                                                              
registries  and flags for  various reasons,  especially when  they                                                              
change  ownership. It's  common  that  a new  owner  may prefer  a                                                              
different flag. Most ships in the  world don't fly the flag of the                                                              
country  where  they  are  actually  from.  They  fly  a  flag  of                                                              
convenience  from  another  country,  which  has  minimal  safety,                                                              
insurance and labor  standards. That's why there  are thousands of                                                              
Panamanian  flagged ships,  even though  they have  never been  to                                                              
SENATOR TORGERSON  asked why we  don't have labor  agreements with                                                              
the municipality that prohibits this activity.                                                                                  
MR. HENDRICKSON replied that might  be a solution in one location,                                                              
but  the  problem  is  bigger than  that.  In  Dutch  Harbor,  for                                                              
instance,  the city dock  is not  the only  dock where this  takes                                                              
SENATOR TORGERSON asked if the other docks were private docks.                                                                  
MR. HENDRICKSON replied  yes, there are a number  of private docks                                                              
in Dutch Harbor and just one city dock.                                                                                         
SENATOR TORGERSON asked if one of  the reasons the companies built                                                              
their own docks was so they could do their own longshoring.                                                                     
MR. HENRICKSON replied  in some cases that might  be true, but the                                                              
Longshoremen's  Union does  work on  a lot of  them. He  explained                                                              
that a lot  of the small companies  have a small number  of people                                                              
working for them  and loading ships often takes 10  - 18 people on                                                              
a foreign vessel.                                                                                                               
SENATOR LEMAN asked if reflagging  is as simple as running another                                                              
flag  up,  is  that consistent  with  international  law  and  any                                                              
protocols we have with other countries.                                                                                         
MR. HENDRICKSON  answered that  there is little  that can  be done                                                              
about that.                                                                                                                     
     But there  is something  in the  U.N. Convention on  the                                                                   
     Law of the  Sea about changing flags in  mid-stream, but                                                                   
     it  isn't  absolutely  prohibited, nor  has  the  United                                                                   
     States ratified  that convention. So, basically,  we are                                                                   
     high centered.  It is technically  legal to  change your                                                                   
     flag and  you don't  have to  give a particular  reason.                                                                   
     I'm sure  there's some  cost associated  with it,  but I                                                                   
     believe  that  the labor  savings  in these  cases  must                                                                   
     somewhat exceed the cost of change of flag.                                                                                
MR. BENINTENDI repeated the question  of how much pollock destined                                                              
for overseas actually goes out under this loophole.                                                                             
MR. HENDRICKSON replied  at least a third of the  offshore side of                                                              
the quota. The  shore plants are more likely to  be using Japanese                                                              
or  Korean vessels  to  take their  product  away  from the  shore                                                              
plants.  Japan  and  Korea don't  have  reciprocity  and  American                                                              
longshore workers do that work.                                                                                                 
CHAIRMAN  STEVENS  asked  if  this problem  was  mostly  with  the                                                              
offshore fleet.                                                                                                                 
MR.  HENDRICKSON replied  yes. It's  always  the offshore  product                                                              
that is loaded by the foreign crews.                                                                                            
There were no further comments.                                                                                                 
SENATOR DAVIS moved to pass HCR 12  from committee with individual                                                              
recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                
CHAIRMAN STEVENS adjourned the meeting at 2:07 p.m.                                                                             

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