Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/14/2002 03:40 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                    
                 SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                                                               
                        February 14, 2002                                                                                       
                            3:40 p.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Gene Therriault, Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Randy Phillips, Vice Chair                                                                                              
Senator Ben Stevens                                                                                                             
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
Senator Rick Halford                                                                                                            
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 236                                                                                                             
"An Act making supplemental and other appropriations for homeland                                                               
security; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                 
          MOVED SB 236 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                         
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 22                                                                                             
Relating to declaring March 2002 as Sobriety Awareness Month.                                                                   
     MOVED   OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                                   
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
SB 236 - See State Affairs minutes dated 1/31/02 and 2/12/02.                                                                   
SCR 22 - See State Affairs minutes dated 2/7/02.                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Senator Jerry Ward                                                                                                              
Alaska State Capitol Room 423                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SCR 22                                                                                         
David Katzeek                                                                                                                   
Alaska Native Brotherhood                                                                                                       
6590 Glacier Highway                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK 99801                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SCR 22                                                                           
Shaan Katzeek                                                                                                                   
6590 Glacier Highway                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK 99801                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on SCR 22                                                                                      
Pamela Watts                                                                                                                    
Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse                                                                                     
Juneau, AK 99801                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SCR 22                                                                                       
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 02-8, SIDE A                                                                                                             
CHAIRMAN  GENE   THERRIAULT  called   the  Senate  State   Affairs                                                            
Committee  meeting to  order at  3:40 p.m.  Present were  Senators                                                              
Davis, Stevens, Phillips and Chairman  Therriault. Senator Halford                                                              
arrived at 3:55 p.m.                                                                                                            
The first order of business was SCR 22.                                                                                         
           SCR 22-SOBRIETY AWARENESS MONTH: MARCH 2002                                                                      
SENATOR WARD,  prime sponsor, explained  that several years  ago a                                                              
small  group of  people decided  they  were going  to become  role                                                              
models who did  not abuse either alcohol or drugs.  Sobriety month                                                              
is discussed  in all the schools  in Alaska in the month  of March                                                              
and is  advertised during  the Iditarod  as well  as other  venues                                                              
through  out  the state.  People  are  encouraged to  speak  about                                                              
sobriety  as  an  alternative  lifestyle  that  is  worthwhile  to                                                              
In committee member's packets there  was a letter from Frank Dahl,                                                              
President of  Cabaret Hotel  Restaurant and Retailers  Association                                                              
(CHARR) that encouraged  support for SCR 22. A copy  of his letter                                                              
is enclosed in the bill file.                                                                                                   
Everyone he's  ever met has been  touched in some way by  drug and                                                              
alcohol abuse. This doesn't mean  individuals must give up alcohol                                                              
altogether  to  lend  their support;  this  resolution  is  simply                                                              
honoring  those  who honor  sobriety.  "By making  March  Sobriety                                                              
Month, we  are enabling  thousands of people  in Alaska  to become                                                              
warriors for sobriety."                                                                                                         
DAVID KATZEEK testified in both English  and Tlingit in support of                                                              
SCR 22.                                                                                                                         
        My grandfather told me a  man who became sober and                                                                      
        lived a sober life was a  very wise individual and                                                                      
        could  learn a  lot. Sobriety is  more than  being                                                                      
        able to not drink; it is  looking at all the types                                                                      
        of things  that are happening  to us as  a people.                                                                      
        Sobriety  could mean  we are becoming  aware of  a                                                                      
        problem  in the  State of Alaska  that results  in                                                                      
        approximately  96  percent of  those  re-offenders                                                                      
        that  go  back to  jail  have been  involved  with                                                                      
        alcohol, resulting in a high  cost to the State of                                                                      
        Alaska  and  to its  citizens.  The cost  is  even                                                                      
        greater  than the money that  is spent. Who  hears                                                                      
        the  cry  of  a  little  child  where  alcohol  is                                                                      
        reigning? Who sees the broken  heart of a teenager                                                                      
        who is  having a difficult time in  school because                                                                      
        of the  emotional, painful and difficult  kinds of                                                                      
        things  he  heard  the night  before  he  goes  to                                                                      
        This  is  called  sobering  up. Not  just  by  the                                                                      
        individual  who is using  alcohol, but society  in                                                                      
        general,  in regarding  the kinds  of things  that                                                                      
        face  us as  a people.  This is  a major  problem.                                                                      
        This  resolution isn't  to tell  everyone to  quit                                                                      
        drinking  and everybody  should abstain.  It is  a                                                                      
        notice to  the people in the State of  Alaska that                                                                      
        the state recognizes and  realizes that there is a                                                                      
        problem.  We are  going to  take time  to look  at                                                                      
        this  particular issue and  stand with the  people                                                                      
        in the State of Alaska regarding  this. To me this                                                                      
        is  sobering  up  when  the  Legislature  and  the                                                                      
        government  begins to  see the  kinds of  problems                                                                      
        we're  facing. Not  just the drunk,  not just  the                                                                      
        alcohol  abuser  or not  just the  alcoholic,  but                                                                      
        society in  general. I appreciate this time  and I                                                                      
        like  speaking  in  my language  because  this  is                                                                      
        where I come from and I'm  proud of my people. But                                                                      
        my  grandfather would have  said may  it be as  if                                                                      
        you heard,  not from me,  David Katzeek,  but from                                                                      
        the elders  of the Tlingit  nation saying  this is                                                                      
        really  really important  and we  need your  help.                                                                      
        This may seem  like a small resolution,  but it is                                                                      
        a very big  one in my personal opinion.  It's like                                                                      
        a pebble being  dropped in a pond where  the rings                                                                      
        will reach out all over.                                                                                                
He then asked that his son be allowed to testify.                                                                               
SHAAN  KATZEEK  introduced  himself  and  explained  his  American                                                              
Government  class requires  each student  to select  and follow  a                                                              
bill. He selected  SCR 22 to follow and didn't  realize his father                                                              
was going to be speaking on behalf of the same bill.                                                                            
He thinks it's a good thing to do because it lets everyone know                                                                 
they can take that  step of being sober during the  month of March                                                              
and then they can tell others what they did.                                                                                    
PAMELA  WATTS,  executive  director   of  the  Advisory  Board  on                                                              
Alcoholism and  Drug Abuse, expressed her appreciation  to Senator                                                              
Ward for sponsoring the resolution as he does every year.                                                                       
She said  this is a foundation  piece for the strategies  that are                                                              
contained in the  state plan for alcohol and drug  abuse services.                                                              
The number  of communities  around  the state  that have begun  to                                                              
take responsibility  for the negative consequences  of alcohol and                                                              
drug abuse in their areas encourages them.                                                                                      
The   benefits  of   taking   responsibility   for  the   negative                                                              
consequences  of alcohol  include  improvement in  the quality  of                                                              
life for individuals,  families and communities.  When communities                                                              
take responsibility,  there is a reduction in  the recidivism rate                                                              
in the criminal  justice system. The reduced burden  on government                                                              
by not having  to exhaust its  resources to pay for  the pervasive                                                              
problems caused  by alcohol and drug  abuse is another  issue. Not                                                              
only  is there  the  high economic  cost  to be  paid  to keep  an                                                              
individual  incarcerated  but  also   the  un-quantified  cost  of                                                              
separating parents from their children.                                                                                         
A  recent  McDowell  report  conservatively   estimates  that  the                                                              
economic cost  of alcohol  abuse comes  to about $453,000  million                                                              
per year.  She urged committee  members to seriously  consider the                                                              
pieces  of legislation  that will  come before  them this  session                                                              
that address alcohol related problems.                                                                                          
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  noted there was  no prepared CS,  no proposed                                                              
amendments. The bill had a zero fiscal note.                                                                                    
He asked for the will of the committee.                                                                                         
SENATOR PHILLIPS  made a  motion to  move SCR  22 and zero  fiscal                                                              
note from committee with individual recommendations.                                                                            
There being no objection, SCR 22 moved from committee.                                                                          
             SB 236-HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS                                                                        
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT drew  member's attention  to the  spreadsheet                                                              
with color-coded categories. They  asked Legislative Finance to go                                                              
through the  appropriation bill and  separate the  expenses. First                                                              
items  that are  supplemental to  the 2002  budget were  separated                                                              
then further  broken into  operating and  capital expenses.  Next,                                                              
items  that  were   clearly  2003  operating  budget   items  were                                                              
separated and finally 2003 capital requests were separated.                                                                     
He said his frustration with trying  to deal with the bill is that                                                              
it isn't  really an  appropriations bill it's  a finance  bill and                                                              
probably should  have been sent to  the Finance Committee  as part                                                              
of  a budget  package. It's  difficult  to deal  with because  the                                                              
Governor  has just  submitted his  2002  supplemental requests  so                                                              
anything  they would  consider  supplemental for  2002  has to  be                                                              
balanced  with   the  Governor's   other  supplemental   requests.                                                              
Additionally, anything they do in  2002 that impacts the operating                                                              
budget must  be considered in the  2003 operating budget.  If this                                                              
isn't  done, there  won't be  funds  to continue  that program  or                                                              
activity in fiscal year 2003.                                                                                                   
According to the spreadsheet, the  total supplemental general fund                                                              
operating  total is  $7.6 million.  To annualize  that amount,  it                                                              
would  take $26.6  million in  FY03  and there  simply aren't  the                                                              
funds available to build that into the budget.                                                                                  
He recommended  forwarding the  bill and  the spreadsheets  to the                                                              
Finance  Committee   accompanied  by   a  letter  explaining   the                                                              
segmentation process. That committee  must decide whether there is                                                              
room for any of this in the FY02  supplemental budget then whether                                                              
they want to build any of it into the FY03 budget.                                                                              
He said he was open to discussion on other ways to handle this.                                                                 
SENATOR PHILLIPS  thought standing committees should  give general                                                              
guidance  to  the  Finance  Committee  so  they  can  develop  the                                                              
numbers.  He   recommended  asking  the  various   departments  to                                                              
categorize and  prioritize their requests.  He said he  feels that                                                              
communications should be at the top of the list                                                                                 
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  asked whether communication should  be at the                                                              
top or should it be prioritized according to what is affordable.                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS said  he wouldn't attach a dollar  amount; rather                                                              
he  would   ask  the  departments   to  categorize   according  to                                                              
importance in dealing with any natural  or man made disaster. This                                                              
list should then be sent to the Finance Committee.                                                                              
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  remarked that, in finance,  the numbers drive                                                              
policy. How much can you afford?  This committee doesn't know what                                                              
the constraints are on the numbers.                                                                                             
He said he has  no problem with asking the various  departments to                                                              
prioritize their requests, but he  doesn't know whether that would                                                              
make much difference in finance's deliberations.                                                                                
SENATOR  STEVENS expressed  the thought  that the  items that  are                                                              
mandated by  federal policy should  be given top priority.  At the                                                              
same  time,  they  should  find  out  whether  federal  funds  are                                                              
available to  pay for  those mandates.  If they aren't  available,                                                              
then  he doesn't  understand  why they  would  need to  be in  the                                                              
supplemental budget for FY02.                                                                                                   
SENATOR DAVIS point  out that as the reports were  handed out, the                                                              
overall theme  was that there were  some priorities that  had been                                                              
set,  but  she  didn't know  whether  there  were  dollar  amounts                                                              
attached  or not.  There are  also  federal funds  that have  been                                                              
designated for  the state  and that amount  has been  set. Perhaps                                                              
they could figure what the state  match would be when coupled with                                                              
the federal funds.                                                                                                              
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  reiterated he had no objection  to asking the                                                              
departments to  prioritize. Because  there are clearly  some items                                                              
on the spreadsheet  where money has already been  spent, those had                                                              
better  be  at the  top  of the  list.  If  they don't  get  those                                                              
dollars, they have a huge hole in  their FY02 budget. Perhaps that                                                              
will cull out some of the "fluff"  federal dollars because if they                                                              
don't believe  the federal  dollars  are going  to be there,  they                                                              
won't put those items very high on their list.                                                                                  
SENATOR HALFORD  agreed with Senator Stevens. The  federal dollars                                                              
in hand  have to be  considered as do  the federal  mandates. That                                                              
information will lead any action.                                                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS  added he  questioned how many  times some  of the                                                              
requests  have been  made  prior to  being  incorporated into  the                                                              
appropriation request.                                                                                                          
SENATOR DAVIS didn't think the departments  would prioritize their                                                              
requests and  even if they did,  someone would still have  to sort                                                              
out the  various lists. She  agreed with Chairman  Therriault that                                                              
they should forward the bill to finance.                                                                                        
SENATOR   HALFORD   made  a   motion   to  send   the   Chairman's                                                              
recommendation to the Finance Committee.                                                                                        
SENATOR DAVIS seconded the motion.                                                                                              
There being  no objection, the bill  was forwarded to  the Finance                                                              
Committee accompanied  by the spreadsheets  and a letter  from the                                                              
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT adjourned the meeting at 4:15 p.m.                                                                          

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