Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/27/2003 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 AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                        
                       February 27, 2003                                                                                        
                           1:35 p.m.                                                                                            
TAPE(S) 03-7                                                                                                                  
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Con Bunde, Chair                                                                                                        
Senator Ralph Seekins, Vice Chair                                                                                               
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 73                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to the authority of the Alaska Industrial                                                                      
Development and Export Authority to issue bonds; and providing                                                                  
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
     MOVED SB 73 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 43                                                                                                              
"An Act extending the termination date of the State Medical                                                                     
     MOVED SB 43 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 54                                                                                                              
"An Act exempting flight crew members of certain air carriers                                                                   
from overtime pay requirements."                                                                                                
     MOVED SB 54 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                               
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                               
SB 73 - No previous action to consider.                                                                                         
SB 43 - No previous action to consider.                                                                                         
SB 54 - No previous action to consider.                                                                                         
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Mr. Ron Miller, Executive Director                                                                                              
Alaska Industrial Development and                                                                                               
 Export Authority and Alaska Energy                                                                                             
813 W Northern Lights Blvd.                                                                                                     
Anchorage, AK  99503                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 73.                                                                                       
Ms. Sara Fisher-Good, Financial Analyst                                                                                         
Alaska Industrial Development and                                                                                               
 Export Authority and Alaska Energy                                                                                             
813 W Northern Lights Blvd.                                                                                                     
Anchorage, AK  99503                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 73.                                                                                       
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 43.                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 03-7, SIDE A                                                                                                             
CHAIR CON  BUNDE called  the Senate  Labor and  Commerce Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 1:35  p.m. Present at the  call of                                                               
the  Chair  were Senators  Ralph  Seekins,  Gary Stevens,  Bettye                                                               
Davis, Hollis French and Chair Con Bunde.                                                                                     
             SB  73-AIDEA AUTHORITY TO ISSUE BONDS                                                                          
CHAIR CON BUNDE announced SB 73 to be up for consideration.                                                                     
MR.  RON MILLER,  Executive  Director,  Alaska Industrial  Export                                                               
Development Authority  (AIDEA), said  SB 73 would  extend AIDEA's                                                               
general  bonding  authority  until  July 1,  2007.  Without  this                                                               
extension,  they would  need legislative  authorization to  issue                                                               
bonds for  development projects  under $10  million and  would be                                                               
restricted  from issuing  any bonds  to finance  the purchase  of                                                               
loan participations  without legislative  authorization. Examples                                                               
of  bond  issues  that would  require  legislative  authorization                                                               
after July 1, 2003 are in the handout he provided. He noted:                                                                    
     The first was  a series 1995 A revolving  fund bond for                                                                    
     just  over $8  million that  provided tax  exempt funds                                                                    
     for  loan participation  for Kodiak  Fish Meal  Company                                                                    
     for a fish by-product processing  plant. The other is a                                                                    
     series 1991 A  revolving fund bond for  $7 million that                                                                    
     provided tax exempt bonds  for expansion improvement of                                                                    
     the  Unalaska  Marine  Center. That  project  also  had                                                                    
     legislative authorization.                                                                                                 
     The following requirements are not  affected by SB 73 -                                                                    
     all  development projects  over $10  million for  which                                                                    
     bonds  are  to  be  issued do  now  require  and  still                                                                    
     require legislative authorization  prior to issuing the                                                                    
     bonds. Prior  to issuing bonds  over $6  million, AIDEA                                                                    
     is  required   to  receive  approval  from   the  local                                                                    
     government in which  the project is to  be located. All                                                                    
     development projects  for which bonds are  to be issued                                                                    
     require  AIDEA to  make findings  that  the project  is                                                                    
     economically    and    financially    feasible.    This                                                                    
     legislation affects none of those requirements.                                                                            
     Recently,  we've  only   issued  refunded  and  conduit                                                                    
     revenue  bonds, which  are not  affected by  SB 73.  If                                                                    
     this  bill doesn't  pass, we'll  continue  to have  the                                                                    
     ability to  issue refunding  bonds and  conduit revenue                                                                    
     bonds.  However, the  sunset  extension provides  AIDEA                                                                    
     the  flexibility   to  assist   in  financing   of  key                                                                    
     development projects.  If the  sunset is allowed  to go                                                                    
     forward, and  depending on the timing  of any potential                                                                    
     project,  AIDEA  would  have to  wait  for  legislative                                                                    
     authorization  to  issue   bonds.  Allowing  this  bond                                                                    
     authority to  sunset would eliminate  a tool  for AIDEA                                                                    
     to use in economic development projects.                                                                                   
SENATOR SEEKINS questioned whether  the due diligence requirement                                                               
of economic and financial feasibility would affected.                                                                           
MR. MILLER replied that SB 73 wouldn't affect that.                                                                             
SENATOR SEEKINS  asked if the  benefit is that AIDEA  could offer                                                               
it on  a tax-exempt basis  and thereby  make a project  even more                                                               
economically feasible by potentially reducing the interest rate.                                                                
MR.  MILLER  replied  that  AIDEA  has  that  authority  now.  He                                                               
explained  that SB  73 would  allow AIDEA  to go  forward with  a                                                               
project that  it would otherwise  have to hold in  abeyance until                                                               
the Legislature convenes.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  HOLLIS  FRENCH asked  how  many  bonding projects  AIDEA                                                               
would take up in the next 12 months that are under $10-million.                                                                 
MS.  SARAH  FISHER-GOOD, financial  analyst  for  AIDEA and  AEA,                                                               
explained that currently nothing is  on AIDEA's docket that would                                                               
require issuing bonds for under $10-million.                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  asked the  status of  the two  examples -  the $8                                                               
million and $7 million bonding projects.                                                                                        
MR. MILLER replied that, in  the past, those projects were funded                                                               
using this authorization.                                                                                                       
SENATOR FRENCH asked how much bonding AIDEA does each year.                                                                     
MS.  FISHER-GOOD replied  that  the only  bond  AIDEA has  issued                                                               
recently was a  Federal Express refunding bond.  The other issues                                                               
that are done are conduit revenue bonds.                                                                                        
CHAIR BUNDE closed the committee discussion on SB 73.                                                                           
SENATOR RALPH  SEEKINS moved  to pass SB  73 from  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations. There  were  no  objections and  the                                                               
roll was  called. Senators Davis,  French, Gary  Stevens, Seekins                                                               
and Bunde voted in favor and SB 73 moved from committee.                                                                        
               SB  43-EXTEND STATE MEDICAL BOARD                                                                            
CHAIR CON BUNDE announced SB 43 to be up for consideration.                                                                     
SENATOR  DONNY  OLSON,  sponsor  of   SB  43,  read  his  sponsor                                                               
statement as follows:                                                                                                           
     This is the  year for the legislative  sunset review of                                                                    
     the  Alaska   State  Medical  Board's   operations  and                                                                    
     activities. I introduced  SB 43 to extend  the life and                                                                    
     function  of   the  board   based  on   a  satisfactory                                                                    
     performance audit and my  own experience, having served                                                                    
     on the medical board from 1994-2000.                                                                                       
     The Legislative  Budget and Audit  Report (08-20017-02)                                                                    
     concludes  that   the  board   'has  carried   out  its                                                                    
     responsibilities in a  manner consistent with statutes,                                                                    
     good administrative practice  and the public interest.'                                                                    
     The   report  further   recommends  that   the  board's                                                                    
     termination date be extended for another eight years.                                                                      
     In  my own  view,  I  expect there  will  be a  greater                                                                    
     necessity  for the  board's licensing  function in  the                                                                    
     near  future  to  serve both  the  medical  community's                                                                    
     expansion   needs  and   the  substantial   replacement                                                                    
     anticipated   from  the   retirement  of   many  senior                                                                    
     professionals.  Indeed,   last  year   the  Legislature                                                                    
     modified the  state's locum tenens law  specifically to                                                                    
     better recruit  and retain medical  personnel essential                                                                    
     for the future health care of the Alaskan population.                                                                      
     I respectfully urge your  favorable consideration of SB                                                                    
CHAIR  BUNDE asked  if the  questions about  the verification  of                                                               
paramedics,  particularly  from  other  jurisdictions,  had  been                                                               
SENATOR  OLSON  replied  that the  State  Medical  Board  doesn't                                                               
license  just   medical  doctors;  it  also   licenses  physician                                                               
assistants,  paramedics   and  those  people  who   have  medical                                                               
training who haven't gone to  medical school. He wasn't sure that                                                               
there was  a conclusive resolution  as yet, but he  thought there                                                               
would be one before the bill passes out of the Senate.                                                                          
CHAIR BUNDE  asked if  Senator Olson had  any concerns  about the                                                               
length of the extension.                                                                                                        
SENATOR OLSON said there was a  concern about it, but eight years                                                               
is the  length of  time appointees have  served because  they are                                                               
appointed by governors and typically serve for their term.                                                                      
CHAIR  BUNDE said  some medical  doctors  have expressed  concern                                                               
about  the  effectiveness  of  the  board  in  carrying  out  its                                                               
SENATOR  OLSON  responded  saying  he has  heard  both  good  and                                                               
critical  comments  about  the  medical board,  which  is  to  be                                                               
expected of any such entity.  Medicine and licensing are becoming                                                               
more and more complicated with  telemedicine and high tech health                                                               
care delivery system advances.                                                                                                  
CHAIR BUNDE said there have been  some high profile cases and the                                                               
Anchorage  Daily  News  has  suggested that  a  strong  board  is                                                               
SENATOR  OLSON responded  that there  has to  be balance  so that                                                               
many physicians aren't practicing in a defensive mode.                                                                          
SENATOR  SEEKINS  moved  to  pass   SB  43  from  committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and  its fiscal note that  is user fee                                                               
supported.  There were  no  objections and  the  roll was  taken.                                                               
Senators  Davis,  French, Stevens,  Seekins  and  Bunde voted  in                                                               
favor and SB 43 passed from committee.                                                                                          
           SB  54-OVERTIME PAY FOR AIRLINE EMPLOYEES                                                                        
CHAIR BUNDE announced SB 54 to be up for consideration and told                                                                 
members that he is a cosponsor of the legislation.                                                                              
SENATOR OLSON, sponsor, stated:                                                                                                 
     I  introduced   SB  54  to   bring  certainty   to  the                                                                    
     interpretation of existing  federal-state wage and hour                                                                    
     statutes as they pertain to  the payment of overtime in                                                                    
     the  aviation industry.  Because of  the uniqueness  of                                                                    
     their  working  conditions,   flight  crews  have  been                                                                    
     considered  professionals,   but  are  exempt   from  a                                                                    
     standard  eight-hour   workday,  forty-hour   week  and                                                                    
     associated  overtime requirements  as prescribed  under                                                                    
     the Alaska  statutes. In  conjunction with  the maximum                                                                    
     flight  hour  requirements  set forth  by  the  Federal                                                                    
     Aviation Administration,  these exemptions at  both the                                                                    
     state and  federal level have  allowed the  industry to                                                                    
     structure wage  and hour schedules best  suited for the                                                                    
     work requirements of the flight crew personnel.                                                                            
     Several Alaska  court decisions have raised  a question                                                                    
     about  the correct  interpretation  of  state wage  and                                                                    
     hour laws  and the applications of  overtime exemptions                                                                    
     for flight crews. Indeed,  the confusion has stimulated                                                                    
     other court challenges.                                                                                                    
     SB  54 explicitly  adds  flight crews  to  the list  of                                                                    
     occupations and  employment situations that  are exempt                                                                    
     from Alaska's overtime wage  and hour requirements. The                                                                    
     bill cites the provisions  of the Federal Railway Labor                                                                    
     Act  that  governs air  carriers  in  order to  provide                                                                    
     consistency between  state and federal  applications of                                                                    
     this exemption.                                                                                                            
     With that I ask your support for the passage of SB 54.                                                                     
CHAIR  BUNDE said  the safety  regulations governing  flight time                                                               
for  pilots  are  very  strict  so  that  pilots  aren't  working                                                               
incredible amounts of overtime.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  OLSON  informed   members  that  a  pilot   is  able  to                                                               
accumulate   no  more   than  eight   hours.  There   are  severe                                                               
consequences  if that  is breached  - such  as suspension  of the                                                               
pilot's license.                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH asked if anything  about this law would prevent an                                                               
employer  and  employee  from  contracting  around  it,  if  they                                                               
decided  they wanted  to operate  on an  hourly schedule  and pay                                                               
pilots overtime for more than eight-hour days.                                                                                  
SENATOR  OLSON  replied  that   unions  typically  address  those                                                               
concerns.  The problem  is  that  the misinterpretation  concerns                                                               
have not  been with  the 121  carriers, they  have been  with the                                                               
smaller 135 operators.                                                                                                          
SENATOR  SEEKINS  asked if  he  thought  the federal  regulations                                                               
provide a high  degree of safety for people who  are traveling in                                                               
aircraft in Alaska.                                                                                                             
SENATOR  OLSON  replied that  safety  is  a  major issue  in  his                                                               
business  and  some  people  think  the  regulations  are  overly                                                               
SENATOR  SEEKINS  moved  to  pass   SB  54  from  committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and its zero  fiscal note. A roll call                                                               
was taken and  Senators Davis, French, Gary  Stevens, Seekins and                                                               
Bunde voted in favor and SB 54 moved from committee.                                                                            
CHAIR BUNDE adjourned the meeting at 2:00 p.m.                                                                                  

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