Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/15/1999 03:32 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE April 15, 1999 3:32 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Jerry Ward, Chairman Senator Lyda Green Senator Gary Wilken Senator Randy Phillips Senator Kim Elton MEMBERS ABSENT None COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 119 "An Act relating to absences from the state while serving on oceangoing vessels of the United States merchant marine for purposes of eligibility for permanent fund dividends; and providing for an effective date." -HEARD AND HELD REVIEW OF ALASKA PIONEERS' HOMES PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 119 - No previous Senate action. WITNESS REGISTER Harold Holten Seafarers International Union PO Box 192 Ketchikan, AK 99901 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 119 Mark Hodgins, Legislative Aide Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 119 Jay Tucker 3513 Creekside #2 Anchorage, AK 99504 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 119 Eden Latta 6704 Lunar Dr Anchorage, AK 99504 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 119 Rocky Latta 6704 Lunar Dr Anchorage, AK 99504 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 119 Mark Tabbott 2511 Tidewater Anchorage, AK 99515 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 119 Paul Fuhs Sea-Land Services, Inc. 10652 Porter Lane Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 119 Edward Burke, Legislative Aide Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered question regarding an amendment to SB 119 Commissioner-Designee Robert Poe PO Box 110200 Juneau, AK 99811-0200 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed Alaska Pioneers' Homes Mr. Jim Kohn, Director Division of Alaska Longevity Programs Department of Administration PO Box 110211 Juneau, AK 99811-0211 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed Alaska Pioneers' Homes Mr. Dwight Becker, Program Coordinator Division of Senior Services Department of Administration 3601 C St., Ste. 310 Anchorage, AK 99503-5984 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed Alaska Pioneers' Homes ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 99-10, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN WARD called the Senate State Affairs Committee to order at 3:32 p.m. All members were present. The first order of business to come before the committee was SB 119. SB 119-PFD ALLOWABLE ABSENCES CHAIRMAN WARD informed committee members a companion bill to SB 119 was introduced in the House by Representative Jerry Sanders. MARK HODGINS, legislative staff to Senator Ward, sponsor of the measure, explained SB 119 will allow absences for otherwise qualified Alaskans, for the purpose of eligibility for permanent fund dividends, serving under foreign or coastal articles of employment aboard an oceangoing vessel of the United States Merchant Marine. HAROLD HOLTEN, Seafarers International Union (SIU), made the following comments regarding SB 119. The SIU opened an office in Anchorage two years ago to recruit Alaskans to its apprenticeship program in Maryland to give them an opportunity to obtain good paying jobs with benefits. Those Alaskan merchant seamen are denied permanent fund dividend (PFD) checks even though they may own homes and vote in Alaska, have Alaska drivers' licenses, and intend to return and maintain Alaska residency. Alaskan merchant seamen cannot choose whether or not to sail in Alaska and even those who do sail in Alaskan waters have been denied PFDs. Mr. Holten said he hates to see young people turn down a great career opportunity because absences during periods of work will prevent them from receiving a PFD. MR. HOLTEN estimated that SB 119 will affect no more than 200 Alaska merchant seamen over a ten-year period. He pointed out that for the purpose of eligibility verification, the Coast Guard keeps records of where and when merchant seamen are working on ships. Number 129 SENATOR PHILLIPS expressed concern that SB 119 will become a "Christmas tree" bill because many others will argue that they should receive PFDs while out of state for various reasons. MR. HOLTEN said the difference is that Alaskan merchant seamen travel by ship from Anchorage, spend one night in Tacoma while the ship is being loaded, and return to Anchorage. Also, all of their family members receive PFDs. CHAIRMAN WARD took teleconference testimony. Number 174 JOY TUCKER, testifying from Anchorage via teleconference, informed committee members she is married to John O.Glen, a merchant seaman. His work shift is four months on and two months off throughout the year and he sails from Tacoma to Anchorage every seven days. Although he and his family reside in Alaska, he is the only member of his family who does not receive a PFD. EDEN LATTA, a merchant seaman and 10-year resident of Alaska, stated he spends all of his time and money in Alaska when he is not at sea. He noted he would be required to pay the Alaska State income tax if one existed, yet he is ineligible for a PFD. Number 222 ROCKY LATTA, father of Eden, stated the Seafarer's International Union provides high-paying jobs for Alaskan youth at a time when low paying service jobs are the order of the day. While the unemployment rate is lower, the quality of service jobs is poor in pay and benefits. He questioned why Alaska blatantly discriminates against seamen by denying resident seamen their PFDs. A second bothersome issue is the response he received when he asked Permanent Fund Dividend Division employees why merchant seamen are denied the PFD while military members stationed outside Alaska receive PFDs even though they do not intend to return to Alaska. The response was that military members have no choice of where they are stationed and they are placed in life threatening situations. He noted military members are volunteers, and although they have no choice of where they are sent once they enlist, neither do merchant seamen. He also pointed out the highest casualty incident rate in World War II was for merchant seamen and that his son's ship carries cruise missiles while at sea. MR. LATTA concluded by saying Representative Don Young started the apprenticeship program for Alaskans because he saw it as a viable Alaskan industry however the State of Alaska denies participants the PFD. PFD denial makes merchant seamen second class citizens in their own state. Number 271 MARK TABBOTT, Vice President of Totem Motion Trailer Express for Alaska, informed committee members his company has three vessels that run between Tacoma and Anchorage and supply about 70 percent of the groceries consumed in Alaska. Both his company and the industry are committed to hiring Alaskans and bringing them into the trade. SB 119 will support the industry's effort to hire more Alaskans. He urged the committee's support. Number 299 PAUL FUHS, representing Sealand Services, stated Sealand went along with other Jones Act carriers to help provide this Alaska training and hire program and believes it is ironic that participants are denied their PFDs. In regard to Senator Phillips concern about other groups with the same request, MR. FUHS said the sea time records of merchant seamen are documented by the U.S. Coast Guard and are extremely accurate. He believes seamen could easily provide that information when applying for a PFD. CHAIRMAN WARD noted Dwight Perkins, Department of Labor, was available to answer questions if need be, and that the Department of Labor supports SB 119. Number 318 NANCI JONES, Director of the Permanent Fund Dividend Division, pointed out SB 119 creates a bright line meaning it specifically allows only merchant seamen to leave the state on an allowable absence; it does not provide an allowance for family members to accompany a seaman out-of-state while working. SB 119 also allows Alaskans attending the apprenticeship program an additional 120 day absence as other college students get. SENATOR WILKEN asked Ms. Jones if SB 119 pertains to a person who resides in Alaska but is absent from Alaska for more than 180 days because of a job. MS. JONES said that is correct. SENATOR WILKEN asked whether he would receive a PFD if he worked for British Petroleum and was assigned to Kuwait for more than 180 days. MS. JONES said he would not. SENATOR WILKEN asked whether he would receive a PFD if he was an Alaska teacher teaching in Australia for nine months. MS. JONES said he would not. SENATOR ELTON asked Ms. Jones if the companion bill on the House side has been changed at all. MS. JONES said it has not. She pointed out the difference between SB 119 and its companion bill, and other House legislation, is that the other legislation addresses employment absences in general. SB 119 is specific to merchant seamen. CHAIRMAN WARD noted the general employment absence legislation Ms. Jones was referring to was sponsored by Representative Cowdery. SENATOR ELTON moved the adoption of Amendment 1, which reads as follows. Page 1, line 2, following "marine": Insert "or while serving as a volunteer in the Peace Corps" Page 2, following line 21: Insert a new paragraph to read: "(13) serving as a volunteer in the Peace Corps;" Page 2, line 22: Delete "(13)" Insert "(14)" Page 2, line 23: Delete "(14)" Insert "(15)" Page 2, line 25: Delete "(14)" Insert "(15)" Page 2, line 28: Delete "(1)-(13)" Insert "(1)-(14)" Page 2, line 31: Delete "(3)-(13)" Insert "(3)-(14)" Page 3, line 2: Delete "(1)-(13)" Insert "(1)-(14)" Page 3, line 3: Delete "(a)(1)-(13)" Insert "(a)(1)-(14)" Page 3, line 11: Delete "(a)(13)" Insert "(a)(14)" CHAIRMAN WARD objected for the purpose of discussion. SENATOR ELTON explained Amendment 1 will return to statute the excused absence for Peace Corps volunteers. The cost of providing a permanent fund dividend to Alaskan Peace Corps volunteers is estimated at $39,000. Peace Corps volunteers serve for 27 months. Their living expenses are paid and they receive a lump sum payment of $225 per month served upon discharge. He wagered that more Peace Corps volunteers return to Alaska to reside than college students or military members and he noted the difference between Peace Corps volunteers and military members is the tools they use. SENATOR ELTON said it is not only egregious that Peace Corps volunteers do not receive their PFDs while serving for 27 months, they also have to wait two to three years to re-establish residency. Number 385 SENATOR PHILLIPS asked Eddie Burke, legislative aide to Representative Sanders, his opinion of Amendment 1. MR. BURKE replied this legislation was designed to apply to merchant seamen only. SENATOR WILKEN noted his support for Amendment 1 as he believes the Legislature erred last year in removing Peace Corps volunteers from PFD eligibility. CHAIRMAN WARD maintained his objection to Amendment 1. Amendment 1 was adopted with Senators Elton, Wilken, and Phillips voting "yea," and Senator Green and Chairman Ward voting "nay." CHAIRMAN WARD announced CSSB 119(STA) would be held in committee until a later date. Number 424 COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE, Department of Administration (DOA) and JIM KOHN, Director of Alaska Longevity Programs, updated committee members on issues involving Alaska's Pioneers' Homes. CHAIRMAN WARD interjected to inform committee members that Marty Margeson, Kathy Emmons, Fran Purdy, Lisa Caress-Beau, Tyler Handley, Robin Johnson and Dwight Becker would be testifying via teleconference. COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE reviewed the three part plan he developed to correct some of the concerns raised at previous meetings. First, he agreed to prepare a budget proposal for the next fiscal year to expand the Pioneers' Homes to a dual model facility so that the homes have some skilled nursing facility licensing abilities. That proposal will also include a budget for a model without a skilled nursing facility license in case the Legislature chooses that option. Second, to correct medical administration errors to ADRD clients at the Anchorage and Palmer Pioneers' Homes, the Anchorage and Palmer Pioneers' Homes are only allowing RNs and LPNs to administer medications in ADRD and Comprehensive Care Units. Third, the creation and training of family councils at Pioneers' Homes is underway. COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE informed committee members that John Vowell, Director of the Anchorage Pioneer Home, resigned recently. Robin Johnson, Assistant Administrator at the Anchorage Pioneer Home for three years, is acting as the director. In addition, Michelle Holloway has replaced Ms. Johnson as the Assistant Administrator. COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE asked Mr. Kohn to address Ms. Margeson's concerns about her rather raised at previous meetings: exercise, activities, access to television, and acquiring a private room. MR. KOHN explained an exercise program has been developed for Ms. Margeson's father and he is able to take a long walk at least three times per day. An orientation related to activities for patients with dementia will be provided to new employees by the Alzheimers' Association and that association will help develop new activity programs during the next few weeks. The big-screen TV has been returned to the ADRD unit and last, Mr. Margeson was moved into the one available private room last week. COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE asked MR. KOHN to update committee members about DOA's connection with the Alzheimers' Association. MR. KOHN indicated DOA's relationship with the Alzheimers' Association began about seven years ago and the relationship is a good one. The Alzheimers' Association helped develop programs in the original ADRD unit. The Alzheimers' Association has been part of DOA's effort to provide training at the Pioneers' Homes for people in the community who care for family members with ADRD. COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE informed committee members he is committed to making the family council process as successful as possible. A consultant from the Minnesota Advocacy Office for Long Term Care will be available to visit from mid-May through the end of June to provide guidance to family councils and Pioneers' Home staff. He noted the family councils have elected officers. MR. KOHN informed committee members a new policy has been established whereby Pioneer Home nursing staff will administer appropriately packaged nutritional supplements upon a physician's order. The resident and/or family members will be asked to sign an informed consent. MR. KOHN explained he is working with the three assisted living coordinators employed at the Anchorage Pioneer Home so that residents, family members, and staff feel the assisted living coordinators are successful in their roles. Number 530 CHAIRMAN WARD thanked Commissioner-Designee Poe for diving into this issue quickly. He noted time will tell whether the resolutions are effective, however family members are hopeful that progress is taking place. SENATOR ELTON asked what is considered a nutritional supplement. MR. KOHN stated nutritional supplements can be defined as non-FDA approved preparations that some physicians believe have positive effects. He added that one-half of all dollars spent on medical care in the United States are spent on alternative medications and procedures. SENATOR ELTON questioned whether requiring a doctor's order prior to administering nutritional supplements will interfere with the nutritionist's ability to prescribe special diets or dietary supplements, such as fiber. MR. KOHN said it will not. Number 574 SENATOR WILKEN asked if all new employees will be required to take the ADRD training offered by the Alzheimers' Association. MR. KOHN replied they will attend a two-day orientation seminar which includes some ADRD training. He noted ADRD training is ongoing: last summer 20 employees were sent to a workshop provided by the National Alzheimers Association. Those employees then provided training to their co-workers. SENATOR WILKEN also thanked Commissioner-Designee Poe, MR. KOHN, and Deputy Commissioner Elgee for working on this project. TAPE 99-10 Side B DWIGHT BECKER, Program Coordinator with the Division of Senior Services, DOA, informed committee members he has oversight responsibility for assisted living licensing and Adult Protective Services (APS). MR. BECKER explained the Division of Senior Services receives complaint reports from either the facility itself or from others such as family or community members. The reports are directed to either the APS or a licensing unit, depending on the nature of the complaint. Any complaint involving a report of harm is directed to APS. If a victim is 60 years of age or older, and living in an assisted living home, the complaint is sent to the Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman (OLTCO) which conducts an investigation of abuse. The Division of Senior Services investigates any part of a complaint related to licensing. Licensing regulations require every assisted living home to make and keep a record of any emergency situations that occur in the facility. Those records are reviewed by the Division of Senior Services. The Division advises facilities to notify it of every report so that it can determine whether further investigation is necessary. He and Mr. Kohn have agreed that all incident reports will be forwarded to APS regardless of whether the report appears to be appropriate for an APS investigation. That plan should alleviate family concerns about incident reports. MR. BECKER discussed the Division of Senior Services' resources available to investigate reports. During the current fiscal year, the Division has had 2 2/3 licensing workers available to take reports, conduct investigations, and file notices of violations. At present, the Division has 3 2/3 licensing workers. When a report involving a 60 year or older person at an assisted living home is filed, OLTCO conducts its investigation and forwards its report to the Division of Senior Services. The Division then conducts any investigation it feels is necessary, files notices of violation and takes licensing administrative action if appropriate. If the complaint involves a person under 60 years of age, it is reviewed by the Division's licensing staff. The Division's first objective is to work with the facility to correct any problems if at all possible. If a problem recurs, or requires immediate action, a notice of violation is filed. Number 484 SENATOR GREEN asked whether the Division reacts differently to complaints from Pioneers' Homes versus private homes. MR. BECKER said not in his opinion. He noted the expectation of cooperation from the Pioneers' Homes might be higher. SENATOR GREEN referred to Mr. Becker's statement that he and Mr. Kohn will receive all incident reports, and asked about the Division's response time. MR. BECKER said the response time will depend on the nature of the report, but reports should be assigned to a staff member within 24 hours of receipt. Number 455 LISA CARESS-BEU testified via teleconference from Anchorage. She thanked Chairman Ward for holding committee hearings to review the Pioneers' Home policies, and thanked Commissioner-Designee Poe for the actions he has taken. She asked Commissioner-Designee Poe whether he read the OLTCO report on the Pioneers' Homes dated October 19, 1998. MS. CARESS-BEU asked committee members to review the over-inflated fiscal note attached to SB 20. SENATOR ELTON thanked Ms. Caress-Beu for her comment on the fiscal note to SB 20 and informed her that other agencies share her concern. COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE stated he has not yet read the OLTCO report. Number 404 TYLER HANDLEY testified via teleconference from Kenai and asked why doctors will be required to order nutritional supplements. MR. KOHN replied much is unknown about nutritional supplements at this time, including their interactions with other medications. He believes it is important that the resident's physician be aware of any type of bio-active substance taken by the resident. COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE added the Board of Nursing requires that physicians be involved when any type of medication is dispensed. MR. HANDLEY questioned whether he will be required to purchase vitamins and minerals for his mother at the Pioneer Home pharmacy. MR. KOHN replied the resident or family members will be expected to supply their own nutritional supplements as few are available in the pharmacy. He added that another reason a physician's order is required is to protect the nurses in their responsibility to administer nutritional supplements. Number 319 ROSA NEWTON, Anchorage Pioneer Home resident, stated she was saddened to hear of John Vowell's resignation as she found him to be very responsive to residents' needs. Regarding reports of abuse of dementia patients, she noted sometimes ADRD patients try to escape, which would be harmful to those patients. When that occurs, staff try to coax patients back into the building but in worst case scenarios residents must be restrained. She stated she does not understand how the staff behavior could be called abusive. MS. NEWTON noted the staff has been very accommodating of her environment in relation to her multiple sclerosis. Number 255 There being no further testimony, CHAIRMAN WARD thanked all participants and adjourned the meeting at 4:50 p.m.