Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/12/1996 08:04 AM RLS
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE RULES COMMITTEE February 12, 1996 8:04 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Mike Miller, Chair Senator Drue Pearce, Vice Chair Senator Bert Sharp Senator Jim Duncan Senator Judy Salo MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR CS FOR SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 23(STA) Relating to long range financial planning. SENATE BILL NO. 69 "An Act relating to hazardous chemicals, hazardous materials, and hazardous waste." SENATE BILL NO. 178 "An Act relating to small employer health insurance." SENATE BILL NO. 240 "An Act relating to the statewide bonding pool for the reclamation activities imposed on mining operations, and extending the pool's use to surface coal mining projects." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 292(JUD) "An Act relating to searches by peace officers who enforce fish and game laws, to false statements and omissions in regard to application for fish and game licenses, tags, and permits, and to nonresident hunters." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SCR 23 - See State Affairs minutes dated 2/8/96. Judiciary & Finance referrals waived 2/7/96. SB 69 - See Resources minutes dated 2/22/95 and 3/27/95. Finance report 2/7/96. SB 178 - See Labor and Commerce minutes dated 1/9/96. Finance report 2/9/96. SB 240 - See Resources minutes dated 2/5/96. HB 292 - See Judiciary minutes dated 5/10/95 and 5/11/95. Rules minutes dated 5/13/95. WITNESS REGISTER Ann Marie Holen Alaska Native Health Board 11241 Latta Circle Anchorage, AK 99516 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of tobacco tax legislation Glen Ray Division of Public Health Department of Health & Social Services P.O. Box 110610 Juneau, AK 99811-0610 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of tobacco tax legislation Kathy Webb Fairbanks Education Association 1244 Viewpointe Fairbanks, AK 99709 POSITION STATEMENT: Has concerns with CSSCR 23(STA) Rob Pfisterer 123210 Spendlove Drive Anchorage, AK 99508 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposes CSSCR 23(STA) Karla Feeley 1840 S. Bragaw Anchorage, AK 99508 POSITION STATEMENT: Has concerns with CSSCR 23(STA) Jim Simeroth, President Kenai Peninsula Education Association 811 Auk St., No. 5 Kenai, AK 99611 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposes CSSCR 23(STA) Jean Krause 2050 Finger Cove Drive Palmer, AK 99645 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposes CSSCR 23(STA) Steven Wright Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association P.O. Box 44645 Soldotna, AK 99669 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposes CSSCR 23(STA) Jeannie Monk Juneau Tobacco Prevention Network 638 Seward St. Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Suggested changes be made to CSSCR 23(STA) Vernon Marshall, Executive Director NEA-Alaska 114 2nd St. Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to CSSCR 23(STA) ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-2, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN MILLER called the Senate Rules Committee meeting to order at 8:04 a.m. CHAIRMAN MILLER brought CSSCR 23(STA) (LONG RANGE FINANCIAL PLANNING) before the committee as the first order of business and announced the meeting was being teleconferenced to the Fairbanks, Anchorage and Kenai Peninsula LIOs. He then opened the hearing to public testimony. Number 017 ANNE MARIE HOLEN , representing the Alaska Native Health Board, as well as Citizens To Protect Kids From Tobacco, a group formed to specifically campaign for a major increase in state tobacco tax rates as a way to reduce the leading cause of death in Alaska, testified in support of tobacco tax legislation. Ms. Holen quoted statistics from a statewide survey conducted to assess public support in Alaska for a dollar-per-pack increase in the state cigarette tax, and she noted Alaska has one of the highest rates of smoking and smoking-related deaths in the country; however, the cigarette tax is below the national average and has not begun to keep pace with inflation over the years. The result is a drain on the Alaska economy amounting to $300 million a year, according to most recent figures. Ms. Holen requested as representatives of the people of the state, the Legislature makes sure the tobacco tax legislation has a full and fair hearing this legislative session and to not let it get sidelined because of resolutions such as CSSCR 23(STA). SENATOR SHARP related the State Affairs Committee, which he chairs, has two tobacco tax bills and an alcohol tax bill in committee. A hearing on those pieces of legislation will be scheduled within the next two to three weeks. Number 098 GLEN RAY , Division of Public Health, Department of Health & Social Services, requested the tobacco tax be considered as a method to reduce tobacco use among children in the state. The Director of Public Health has said given the data on the high prevalence of rates of tobacco use in Alaska, it would be negligent for health professionals to do anything else but to become involved in trying to eliminate tobacco use from the most vulnerable of our population. He also quoted statistics on deaths in the state attributed to smoking diseases, as well as statistics on tobacco use among young children, especially in the rural areas of the state. Concluding his comments, Mr. Ray pointed out that the Department of Health & Social Services, the Division of Public Health, anticipates increasing the excise tax can be implemented at no additional cost to the state, that the reduction of tobacco by children will be significant, and long range health care costs will be reduced due to a decrease in smoking-related diseases in future years. SENATOR SHARP expressed his appreciation for the testimony and said he didn't want to dissuade people from talking about the tobacco tax, but the purpose of this hearing was not on those specific bills. He added that he hoped the testimony would be presented at the hearings on the tobacco bills when they come before the State Affairs Committee. SENATOR DUNCAN commented he thought the testimony was very appropriate for the resolution because the original resolution did speak about a plan to close the fiscal gap, and although it is not in the committee substitute, it should be at least a consideration of revenue raising measures. Number 200 KATHY WEBB , representing the Fairbanks Education Association, stated she is pleased that the Legislature is working towards implementing a long range financial plan, but she is distressed that there has not been adequate hearings on CSSCR 23(STA). She voiced her opposition to language in the resolution which calls for institution of a Tier 3 state pension, wage, and benefit package without consulting or working with the people involved. CHAIRMAN MILLER pointed out the State Affairs Committee did hold a hearing on the resolution on February 8, at the request of Senator Duncan. Also, there was no objection by any member when the Judiciary Committee and Finance Committee referrals were waived on the Senate floor. SENATOR SALO noted that Minority members did try to get a Finance referral added back on once they realized the resolution was rushed through the State Affairs Committee, however, that motion failed to pass on the Senate floor. Number 235 ROB PFISTERER , representing the Anchorage Education Association, expressed his concern that the resolution was given little time for discussion and input by the public. Outlining his concerns, he said the resolution speaks to reducing the size and scope of state government to decrease the gap, but the Legislature should determine if the needs of the citizens have decreased. It also speaks to significantly reducing entitlement reform, but it does not address the fact that the funding formula for schools has only gone up one percent since 1988; this at a time when inflation has risen 24 to 27 percent. Further, he said there is nothing in the resolution that addresses revenue enhancement, and for a state that has no income tax, no sales tax, and gives each man, woman and child a dividend, to not address revenue is ridiculous. He believes the resolution is short sighted, as well as a hasty and wasted effort. Number 280 KARLA FEELEY of Anchorage agrees that there is a need for a long range plan, but she said the State Affairs CS focuses on reductions only. She believes revenue increases are going to be necessary in order to close the fiscal gap. She pointed out that education has lost almost 25 percent against inflation since 1987, and suggested funding education and other public services to the level necessary to do the job. Number 299 JIM SIMEROTH , President, Kenai Peninsula Education Association, voiced his opposition to CSSCR 32(STA) because it is not in the best interest of Alaskans, especially the children. He believes the resolution would worsen the economic situation rather than improve it. He questioned the wisdom of locking up $1.1 billion in the permanent fund when school children in the state are already suffering from a lack of appropriate funding for school programs. He said the only sure way to provide for the future is to invest in education now. Number 337 JEAN KRAUSE , a retired teacher from Palmer, agreed with the comments made by Mr. Pfisterer and Mr. Simeroth, and she urged the committee take the time to redraft the resolution to address the concerns articulated out of Juneau and Anchorage. Number 344 STEVEN WRIGHT , representing the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association, stated his disagreement with the resolution is because it states the only means to close the financial gap, real or imagined, is to decrease funding for vital social services. He said if the Legislature pledges to work with all parties to implement a long range financial plan that meets the needs and desires of the Alaskan people, then it will make every effort to increase the funding for the real infrastructure of our society, which is our children and our public schools. Number 357 JEANNIE MONK , representing the Juneau Tobacco Prevention Network, said she agreed that in considering ways to reduce Alaska's budget deficit, it is important to look at budget cuts, but simply cutting the budget without raising revenue will not meet the needs of people in the state. The tobacco tax proposal is an opportunity that cannot be ignored. Tobacco tax increases result in increased revenue and decreased consumption. She asserted a tobacco tax will generate revenue for the state of Alaska, raising over $40 million annually. She said the resolution will limit the ability to responsibly solve the budget gap, and she suggested the resolution be changed and that public hearings be held on each of the proposals in the long range financial plan. Number 388 VERNON MARSHALL , Executive Director, NEA-Alaska, stated that CSSCR 23(STA) offers no vision for what Alaska's economy is or will be for those who make Alaska their home. The resolution focuses its resolve on reducing the size and scope of government in making significant spending reductions. NEA-Alaska believes the resolution is one sided since it proposes reductions in spending with no commitment to revenue replacement or identification of other sources of revenue. The resolution doesn't define how the economy will expand by spending reductions, no plan is offered that suggests new revenues streams, and the plan offers no support for any tax measures, etc. He asserted now is the time to address better ways to ensure a strong, viable Alaska in years to come, and he pointed out Alaska is the only state where the general population generally pays little or nothing to support government. Number 400 CHAIRMAN MILLER announced that there were no further witnesses wishing to testify on CSSCR 23(STA) and that the committee would address proposed amendments to the resolution. SENATOR SALO moved the following amendment to CSSCR 23(STA): Amendment No. 1 Page 2, lines 26 through 28: Delete all material and insert: "Further Resolved that the Nineteenth Legislature pledges to work with all parties to implement new taxes on alcohol and tobacco products in accordance with the Long Range Fiscal Plan; and be it" CHAIRMAN MILLER objected to the amendment for the purpose of discussion. SENATOR SALO explained her intention with the amendment is the Legislature at least consider this as a revenue raising measure when working on a long range fiscal plan. SENATOR SHARP stated his objection, noting the State Affairs Committee has legislation relating to seven proposed tax increases, which includes tobacco, and he believes the proper place to address individual revenue bills is through the hearing process in committees. SENATOR DUNCAN offered an amendment to Amendment No. 1 which would read: "Further Resolved that the Nineteenth Legislature pledges to with all parties to consider new revenue sources in accordance with the Long Range Fiscal Plan; and be it" SENATOR SHARP objected and then withdrew his objection to the amendment to the amendment. There being no further objection, the Chairman stated the amendment to Amendment No. 1 was adopted. CHAIRMAN MILLER continued his objection to Amendment No. 1, as amended, and called for a roll call vote. Senators Pearce, Sharp and Miller voted "Nay" and Senators Duncan and Salo voted "Yea." The Chairman stated the amendment failed on a 3-2 vote. Number 475 SENATOR SALO moved the following Amendment No. 2: Amendment No. 2 Page 2, line 24: After "services" delete "and the institution of a Tier 3 state pension, wage, and benefit package" CHAIRMAN MILLER objected. SENATOR SALO explained that there is separate legislation dealing with this issue and that legislation could have the focus it deserves without being included in the resolution. She also believes that it is one of the most negative pieces of the financial plan. After brief discussion on the amendment, the Chairman stated there would be a roll call vote. Senators Pearce, Sharp and Miller voted "Nay" and Senators Duncan and Salo voted "Yea." The Chairman stated the amendment failed on a 3-2 vote. Number 560 SENATOR DUNCAN stated he believes it is important to have a plan to close the fiscal gap and the original resolution very clearly laid out components of a plan to close the fiscal gap, however, he questioned the presence of a plan in the committee substitute. TAPE 96-2, SIDE B Number 001 CHAIRMAN MILLER pointed out that later in the morning the Senate House Majorities would be unveiling plans for a five-year strategy to close the budget gap. Number 035 SENATOR SHARP moved and asked unanimous consent that CSSCR 23(STA) be approved for calendaring. SENATOR DUNCAN objected. The roll was taken with the following result: Senators Pearce, Sharp and Miller voted "Yea" and Senators Salo and Duncan voted "Nay." The Chairman stated the motion passed on a 3-2 vote. CHAIRMAN MILLER brought SB 69 (REPORTING OF HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE) before the committee. Hearing no discussion, he asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR PEARCE moved and asked unanimous consent that SB 69 be approved for calendaring. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN MILLER brought SB 178 (SMALL EMPLOYER HEALTH INSURANCE) before the committee. Hearing no discussion, he asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR PEARCE moved and asked unanimous consent that SB 178 be approved for calendaring. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN MILLER brought SB 240 (MINING BONDING POOL) before the committee. Hearing no discussion, he asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR PEARCE moved and asked unanimous consent that SB 240 be approved for calendaring. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN MILLER brought CS HB 292(JUD) (FISH & GAME ENFORCEMENT) before the committee as the final order of business. However, he stated the bill would be held for any committee action until the next meeting in order to resolve a problem with the legislation. There being no further business to come before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 8:58 a.m.