Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/12/1996 08:04 AM RLS

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                     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.                                            
                                                                               

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