Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

02/08/2018 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 164 Out of Committee
Moved SB 148 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                        February 8, 2018                                                                                        
                           3:29 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Kevin Meyer, Chair                                                                                                      
Senator David Wilson                                                                                                            
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator John Coghill                                                                                                            
Senator Dennis Egan                                                                                                             
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 164                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to the confidentiality of certain records on                                                                   
animals and crops; and providing for an effective date."                                                                        
     - MOVED SB 164 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 148                                                                                                             
"An  Act  relating  to  powers of  the  Alaska  Police  Standards                                                               
Council;  and  relating to  background  checks  for admission  to                                                               
police training programs and certification as a police officer."                                                                
     - MOVED SB 148 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 164                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CONFIDENTIALITY OF ANIMAL & CROP RECORDS                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
01/26/18       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/26/18       (S)       STA, RES                                                                                               
02/08/18       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB 148                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR POLICE & TRAINING                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
01/18/18       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/18       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
02/08/18       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
CHRISTINA CARPENTER, Director                                                                                                   
Division of Environmental Health                                                                                                
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced and addressed questions regarding                                                              
SB 164.                                                                                                                         
DR. ROBERT GERLACH, State Veterinarian                                                                                          
Office of the State Veterinarian                                                                                                
Division of Environmental Health                                                                                                
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Provided a sectional analysis of SB 164 and                                                               
addressed questions regarding the bill.                                                                                         
AMY SEITZ, Executive Director                                                                                                   
Alaska Farm Bureau                                                                                                              
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 164.                                                                           
BRYCE WRIGLEY, President                                                                                                        
Alaska Farm Bureau                                                                                                              
Delta Junction, Alaska                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 164.                                                                           
ROBERT GRIFFITHS, Executive Director                                                                                            
Alaska Police Standards Council                                                                                                 
Alaska Department of Public Safety                                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Provided an overview and sectional analysis                                                               
of SB 148.                                                                                                                      
KATHIE WASSERMAN, Executive Director                                                                                            
Alaska Municipal League                                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 148.                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:29:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KEVIN  MEYER  called the  Senate  State  Affairs  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 3:29  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were Senators  Giessel, Coghill,  Wilson, Egan,  and Chair                                                               
        SB 164-CONFIDENTIALITY OF ANIMAL & CROP RECORDS                                                                     
3:30:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER announced the consideration of SB 164.                                                                              
3:30:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINA CARPENTER, Director,  Division of Environmental Health,                                                               
Alaska  Department  of   Environmental  Conservation,  Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska, explained that  SB 164 will make certain  records held by                                                               
the  Alaska Department  of Environmental  Conservation (DEC)  and                                                               
the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confidential.                                                                  
MS.  CARPENTER  addressed slide  2:  SB  164: Confidentiality  of                                                               
Records, and referenced as follows:                                                                                             
   • To keep the Alaska agricultural sector healthy, to                                                                         
     encourage  its growth,  and  to  prevent unfair  competitive                                                               
     practices  requires a  change to  the Alaska  Statutes (AS),                                                               
     specifically to keep  certain information about agricultural                                                               
     imports,  animal identification,  premise, and  test results                                                               
   • Amends AS 03.05 to add a new section that would make                                                                       
     certain records held by DEC and DNR confidential.                                                                          
   • SB 164 would provide agriculture producers with similar                                                                    
     confidentiality   protection  already   afforded  to   other                                                               
     commercial  industries;  examples, commercial  fisheries  or                                                               
     big-game hunters.                                                                                                          
   • Coordinated effort with DEC and DNR.                                                                                       
3:32:43 PM                                                                                                                    
She addressed slide  3: SB 164: Need Overview,  and referenced as                                                               
   • Farmers are reluctant to subject their animals and crops to                                                                
     voluntary testing  for disease because the  results of those                                                               
     tests are not proprietary as they are in other states.                                                                     
   • Public disclosure of this information can have potentially                                                                 
     negative impacts on  their business, and since  they are not                                                               
     mandated tests, they opt not to test at all.                                                                               
   • An outbreak of disease could cause significant threats to                                                                  
     animal health, both wild and domestic, public health, the                                                                  
     environment or the food supply.                                                                                            
   • Holding animal import health records, import permit                                                                        
     information and voluntary disease testing or product                                                                       
     quality testing as proprietary allows farmers to keep this                                                                 
     business information confidential.                                                                                         
MS.  CARPENTER  opined  that reluctance  to  engage  in  optional                                                               
testing means farmers  do not work with DEC early  in the process                                                               
to contain  a disease  outbreak or a  morbidity event.  She added                                                               
that there  is also  concern from some  animal owners  that their                                                               
information  could  be released  and  accessed  by animal  rights                                                               
activists for harassment purposes.                                                                                              
3:34:32 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  ROBERT  GERLACH, State  Veterinarian,  Office  of the  State                                                               
Veterinarian  (OSV),  Division   of  Environmental  Health  (EH),                                                               
Alaska  Department  of   Environmental  Conservation,  Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska, addressed slide 4: Office  of the State Veterinarian, and                                                               
referenced as follows:                                                                                                          
     The  Office of  the State  Veterinarian is  responsible                                                                    
     for the  prevention, control and eradication  of animal                                                                    
     diseases  in   all  animals  in  the   state  including                                                                    
     livestock and  pets, safeguarding  the health  and food                                                                    
     production   capacity   of   the   state's   livestock,                                                                    
     reindeer, and  poultry and preventing  the transmission                                                                    
     of animal diseases to humans.                                                                                              
He  said  for OSV  to  carry  out its  responsibilities  requires                                                               
access to certain information:                                                                                                  
   • Identification of where animals are located.                                                                               
   • How many animals are at a location.                                                                                        
   • Contact information for animal owners.                                                                                     
   • Animal movement information to identify if animals are                                                                     
     moving from one place to another if an outbreak occurs.                                                                    
   • Background information surveillance on diseases in the                                                                     
     state for certification.                                                                                                   
He addressed slide 5: Program  Functions and Record Examples, and                                                               
referenced as follows:                                                                                                          
   • "One Health" animal disease and traceability:                                                                              
        o Import regulations for animals.                                                                                       
        o Disease surveillance and investigation.                                                                               
        o Movi Study: wild and domestic sheep and goats.                                                                        
   • Dairy:                                                                                                                     
        o Sanitation at dairy farms and milk facilities.                                                                        
        o Dairy products safe for human consumption.                                                                            
        o New recipes.                                                                                                          
   • Reindeer slaughter.                                                                                                        
   • FSMA produce safety rule.                                                                                                  
   • Fish tissue monitoring.                                                                                                    
DR.   GERLACH   explained   that   OSV's   records   on   disease                                                               
certification  as well  as  programs  to provide  proof-of-animal                                                               
quality  are important  for the  producers to  have a  successful                                                               
3:37:04 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL  addressed   Alaska's  cross-border  trade  with                                                               
Canada.  She pointed  out that  Canada has  some prohibitions  on                                                               
animals  crossing the  border to  come to  Alaska. She  asked Dr.                                                               
Gerlach to provide details.                                                                                                     
DR.  GERLACH  answered  that  there   are  some  prohibitions  on                                                               
movement of certain  species like sheep and goats  from the Lower                                                               
48 that  require special  permits to  travel through  Canada. The                                                               
other diseases  that Canada has  surveillance for,  like Alaska's                                                               
concern  regarding certain  diseases  that are  in wildlife,  are                                                               
parasites in ticks or Chronic  Wasting Disease (CWD). He revealed                                                               
that Canada currently has a CWD outbreak in Alberta.                                                                            
SENATOR GIESSEL noted that Alaska  has the Porcupine caribou herd                                                               
that moves  back and  forth across  the border  and asked  if the                                                               
caribou herd is monitored for disease.                                                                                          
DR.  GERLACH  replied the  Alaska  Department  of Fish  and  Game                                                               
(ADF&G) monitors the  Porcupine caribou herd and  shares the data                                                               
with the EH.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL   asked  him  to   confirm  that  ADF&G   has  a                                                               
veterinarian on staff, like Dr. Gerlach's position.                                                                             
DR.  GERLACH  answered  correct.  He   detailed  that  EH  has  a                                                               
veterinarian as well.                                                                                                           
3:40:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL  asked Dr. Gerlach  to verify that the  state has                                                               
three veterinarians in three different departments.                                                                             
DR.   GERLACH  detailed   that   the   responsibilities  of   the                                                               
veterinarians in  each of the  departments varies.  He emphasized                                                               
that there is  only one "state" veterinarian. He  noted that only                                                               
a state veterinarian can act on an outbreak to contain diseases.                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL asked that Dr.  Gerlach provide additional detail                                                               
on the MOVI Study.                                                                                                              
DR. GERLACH  explained that  the Mycoplasma  ovipneumoniae (MOVI)                                                               
is a  disease of concern  that was responsible for  some sporadic                                                               
die-off of bighorn sheep in the  Lower 48. He said the MOVI Study                                                               
is collecting data from domestic sheep  and goats to see if there                                                               
is potential risk to Alaska's wildlife.                                                                                         
3:42:50 PM                                                                                                                    
He addressed slide 6: Alaska Animal Imports: OSV Records:                                                                       
   • FY2014:                                                                                                                    
        o Number of permits:                                                                                                    
             square4 Cattle: 6                                                                                                  
             square4 Sheep/goats: 26                                                                                            
             square4 Equine: 77                                                                                                 
             square4 Swine: 19                                                                                                  
             square4 Poultry: 220                                                                                               
        o Number of animals:                                                                                                    
             square4 Cattle: 37                                                                                                 
             square4 Sheep/goats: 92                                                                                            
             square4 Equine: 203                                                                                                
             square4 Swine: 2,050                                                                                               
             square4 Poultry: 14,000                                                                                            
   • FY2015:                                                                                                                    
        o Number of permits:                                                                                                    
             square4 Cattle: 5                                                                                                  
             square4 Sheep/goats: 21                                                                                            
             square4 Equine: 63                                                                                                 
             square4 Swine: 13                                                                                                  
             square4 Poultry: 490                                                                                               
        o Number of animals:                                                                                                    
             square4 Cattle: 22                                                                                                 
             square4 Sheep/goats: 38                                                                                            
             square4 Equine: 118                                                                                                
             square4 Swine: 668                                                                                                 
             square4 Poultry: 30,623                                                                                            
   • FY2016:                                                                                                                    
        o Number of permits:                                                                                                    
             square4 Cattle: 14                                                                                                 
             square4 Sheep/goats: 22                                                                                            
             square4 Equine: 203                                                                                                
             square4 Swine: 31                                                                                                  
             square4 Poultry: 1,645                                                                                             
        o Number of animals:                                                                                                    
             square4 Cattle: 169                                                                                                
             square4 Sheep/goats: 298                                                                                           
             square4 Equine: 352                                                                                                
             square4 Swine: 2668                                                                                                
             square4 Poultry: 128,372                                                                                           
   • FY2017:                                                                                                                    
        o Number of permits:                                                                                                    
             square4 Cattle: 22                                                                                                 
             square4 Sheep/goats: 17                                                                                            
             square4 Equine: 192                                                                                                
             square4 Swine: 37                                                                                                  
             square4 Poultry: 1,230                                                                                             
        o Number of animals:                                                                                                    
             square4 Cattle: 401                                                                                                
             square4 Sheep/goats: 85                                                                                            
             square4 Equine: 366                                                                                                
             square4 Swine: 2,319                                                                                               
             square4 Poultry: 91,929                                                                                            
DR. GERLACH noted that the animal import data shows that permits                                                                
and animals continue to increase.                                                                                               
3:43:32 PM                                                                                                                    
He addressed slide 7: Disease Outbreaks in Alaska, and                                                                          
referenced as follows:                                                                                                          
   • Brucellosis:                                                                                                               
        o 20 percent of cases are associated with recreational                                                                  
          and subsistence hunting.                                                                                              
   • Domestic Animals:                                                                                                          
        o Pet foods (brucellosis canis, leptospirosis, rabies,                                                                  
          avian, swine, and canine influenza).                                                                                  
        o Poultry   (Marek's   Disease,   fowl   cholera,   avian                                                               
        o Baby chicks (salmonella).                                                                                             
        o Outbreaks at the Fair (Streptococcus suis, Malignant                                                                  
          Catharral Fever).                                                                                                     
        o Domestic rabbits (herpes virus).                                                                                      
   • Treats & Raw Foods:                                                                                                        
        o Poultry deaths (Southcentral; toxin).                                                                                 
        o Horses (Kodiak; aflatoxin).                                                                                           
        o Domestic pets (salmonella, chemical contaminants).                                                                    
   • Records can still be disclosed if there is a threat to the                                                                 
     health or safety of an animal, crop, or the public.                                                                        
DR.  GERLACH explained  that disease  outbreaks  are reported  to                                                               
certain  state  and  federal  agencies. He  added  that  data  is                                                               
released  to inform  farmers  so  that action  can  be taken.  He                                                               
emphasized  that released  information  is "generalized"  without                                                               
personal or  business information. He summarized  that the intent                                                               
is to  protect animal  health and  contain or  eradicate diseases                                                               
without impacting a commercial entity.                                                                                          
3:45:46 PM                                                                                                                    
He addressed  slide 8: SB  164: Sectional Analysis,  and detailed                                                               
as follows:                                                                                                                     
   • Section 1:                                                                                                                 
        o Makes certain animal and crop records maintained by                                                                   
          DEC and DNR exempt from the Alaska Public Records Act                                                                 
          if they:                                                                                                              
             1. Are importation records that identify an animal,                                                                
               crop, business, or individual;                                                                                   
             2. Contain animal or crop test results if certain                                                                  
               conditions are met;                                                                                              
             3. Are trade secrets or proprietary business or                                                                    
               financial information.                                                                                           
        o Allows the departments to disclose the above described                                                                
          records in the case that the departments determine                                                                    
          that there is a threat to the health or safety of an                                                                  
          animal, crop, or the public.                                                                                          
        o Provides the definition of "varietal.                                                                                 
   • Section 2:                                                                                                                 
        o Allows the DEC and DNR to adopt regulations to                                                                        
          implement the act.                                                                                                    
   • Section 3:                                                                                                                 
        o Provides for an immediate effective date for Section                                                                  
MS.  CARPENTER   addressed  slide   9:  SB  164:   Benefits,  and                                                               
referenced as follows:                                                                                                          
   • Routine surveillance testing may encourage better animal                                                                   
     husbandry and crop management, resulting in a higher                                                                       
     quality product for sale and increased production                                                                          
   • Early identification and testing of sick or dead animals                                                                   
     and crops decreases the potential for more serious                                                                         
     outbreaks and spread of disease to other farms, plants or                                                                  
   • Confidentiality of proprietary data prevents unfair                                                                        
     advantage to a competitor regarding product development,                                                                   
     marketing strategy, and source of animal inventory.                                                                        
3:47:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WILSON asked if the division  had an indication as to how                                                               
many people will go ahead and  comply with testing. He noted that                                                               
the  bill has  a zero  fiscal  note and  asked who  pays for  the                                                               
MS.  CARPENTER  addressed  testing  payment  and  explained  that                                                               
producers  have  their  private veterinarian  test  and  the  two                                                               
entities have a client-patient  confidentiality; however, as soon                                                               
as the private veterinarian turns  records over to the state, the                                                               
information is subject  to public record. She  specified that the                                                               
bill's intent is  for records protection rather  than an increase                                                               
in testing at EH's laboratory.                                                                                                  
DR. GERLACH added  that some of the testing EH  does is paid from                                                               
U.S.  Department of  Agriculture  (USDA) grants  to meet  certain                                                               
certifications.  He noted  that  farmers are  seeing the  overall                                                               
benefit  from  obtaining  certifications, especially  for  moving                                                               
animals out of state.                                                                                                           
3:50:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WILSON  asked if  there is a  standard number  of testing                                                               
days for  cattle that come  into the state  from the Lower  48 or                                                               
Canada before the animal can go to market.                                                                                      
DR. GERLACH  replied import requirements require  testing 30 days                                                               
in advance of cattle coming into the state.                                                                                     
SENATOR WILSON  asked Dr. Gerlach  to confirm that  someone could                                                               
bring  an animal  in  and slaughter  within 15  days  and not  go                                                               
through testing.                                                                                                                
DR. GERLACH answered correct. He  detailed that an animal brought                                                               
into  the state  for direct  slaughter would  still have  to meet                                                               
USDA standards  for importation into  the country. He  noted that                                                               
state law  requires that  direct slaughter  must occur  within 10                                                               
days, federal  law requires 14  days. He added that  an exemption                                                               
for added time to slaughter may be requested.                                                                                   
3:52:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILSON asked  if an  animal could  be imported  into the                                                               
state, used for breeding, and then be sent for slaughter.                                                                       
DR.  GERLACH answered  no. He  specified that  an animal  must go                                                               
directly to slaughter.  He pointed out that  Washington state has                                                               
experienced  issues  where  animals   brought  in  for  immediate                                                               
slaughter have been used for  breeding. He emphasized that record                                                               
accountability  and  traceability  is  vital  in  verifying  that                                                               
animals  brought in  for  immediate slaughter  are  not used  for                                                               
SENATOR COGHILL  noted that  he is  concerned with,  "Pulling the                                                               
shade  down over  private industry."  He  asked what  information                                                               
will be publicly available if SB 164 is adopted.                                                                                
DR. GERLACH  answered that information  of animal  imports coming                                                               
into   the  state   would  be   available.  He   reiterated  that                                                               
information  is  generalized  and   specific  information  for  a                                                               
business or person will not be disclosed.                                                                                       
3:55:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL   asked  what   specific  information   will  be                                                               
available from  the state.  He inquired  if the  information from                                                               
the state will show volume and category.                                                                                        
DR. GERLACH answered correct.                                                                                                   
SENATOR COGHILL pointed out that accessing  the USDA may be a way                                                               
to  circumvent   restricted  information.   He  noted   that  the                                                               
information provided by the USDA does not provide the name.                                                                     
DR. GERLACH  replied that  he did not  know what  information the                                                               
USDA  would  release. He  surmised  that  the USDA  would  redact                                                               
certain information.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  COGHILL shared  a constituent  concern that  some people                                                               
are bringing  animals into  the state  and calling  them "Alaskan                                                               
grown" and then marketing them.                                                                                                 
DR.  GERLACH  replied that  Senator  Coghill  poses a  very  good                                                               
question and noted that specific  information is available when a                                                               
concern is voiced.                                                                                                              
SENATOR COGHILL asked  him to verify that  information on volumes                                                               
and species will be available without specific identification.                                                                  
DR.  GERLACH answered  correct.  He  emphasized that  information                                                               
will not  being hidden, but  information for a  specific business                                                               
or  person  will not  be  disclosed.  He  noted that  the  Health                                                               
Insurance Portability  and Accountability  Act (HIPPA)  on health                                                               
information privacy runs the same way.                                                                                          
3:58:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  pointed out that  the information that  the USDA                                                               
releases does show an address.                                                                                                  
SENATOR WILSON addressed "Alaskan  grown" and asked how livestock                                                               
is verified to be "Alaskan grown" if there is a complaint.                                                                      
MS.  CARPENTER  explained  that  information  and  records  would                                                               
continue to be shared with  "fellow departments" for managing the                                                               
"Alaskan grown" program.                                                                                                        
SENATOR  WILSON  asked if  only  "general"  information would  be                                                               
available to the  public and only the state would  have access to                                                               
the specific information.                                                                                                       
DR. GERLACH  answered thats  true  and noted that access  is also                                                               
available to an  "authority" that has the regulation  to go ahead                                                               
with a program  like the "Alaskan grown". He  reiterated that any                                                               
time there is a question,  the Division of Agriculture has access                                                               
to specific information. He noted  that the confidentiality issue                                                               
has  been a  very big  issue in  the Lower  48 where  states have                                                               
strengthened access  to information because of  several different                                                               
issues associated with data misuse  by other public entities that                                                               
are industry damaging.                                                                                                          
4:02:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER opened public testimony.                                                                                            
4:03:06 PM                                                                                                                    
AMY  SEITZ, Executive  Director,  Alaska  Farm Bureau,  Soldotna,                                                               
Alaska,  testified  in support  of  SB  164. She  explained  that                                                               
compliance  with  state  and federal  laws  requires  farmers  to                                                               
provide certain information to DEC  and DNR as well as compliance                                                               
for  voluntary testing  programs  or importation  laws. She  said                                                               
currently  there is  no confidentiality  over testing  records as                                                               
well  as   pertinent  information  on   individuals,  businesses,                                                               
animals, and crops.                                                                                                             
MS. SEITZ  said the  passage of SB  164 will  provide information                                                               
security for farmers which is  the same security already provided                                                               
to  other  businesses  in  the state.  She  emphasized  that  the                                                               
passage of  SB 164 would  not endanger public health  and private                                                               
information would be released if there was a problem.                                                                           
4:06:04 PM                                                                                                                    
BRYCE  WRIGLEY, President,  Alaska Farm  Bureau, Delta  Junction,                                                               
Alaska,  testified in  support  of  SB 164.  He  said building  a                                                               
strong  and resilient  local-food  system  requires a  commitment                                                               
from farmers as  well as statutes and  regulations that encourage                                                               
local food  production and processes.  He said SB 164  will build                                                               
trust between  the state's food producers  and government without                                                               
fear that businesses can be impacted  because of a sick animal or                                                               
crop  disease. He  explained that  the possibility  of a  serious                                                               
problem  and  the  potential  food-market  impact  makes  farmers                                                               
reluctant to ask for help  from agencies because that information                                                               
is currently considered public.  He asserted that knowing certain                                                               
test  results are  subject to  public record  requests under  the                                                               
current  law makes  animal owners  reluctant to  voluntarily have                                                               
their animals  tested for what  could be contagious  diseases and                                                               
He  summarized that  continued distrust  can be  expected without                                                               
the protections  that SB  164 offers. He  emphasized that  SB 164                                                               
will build trust between food  producers and their government. He                                                               
asserted  that  working  together will  transform  Alaska's  food                                                               
4:10:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER closed public testimony.                                                                                            
4:11:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL moved to report  SB 164, version 30-GS2584\A from                                                               
committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  attached  zero                                                               
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
4:11:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MEYER  announced  that seeing  no  objection,  the  motion                                                               
4:11:47 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
         SB 148-BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR POLICE & TRAINING                                                                     
4:14:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER called the committee  back to order. He announced the                                                               
consideration of Senate Bill 148 (SB 148).                                                                                      
4:15:32 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  GRIFFITHS, Executive  Director,  Alaska Police  Standards                                                               
Council,  Alaska Department  of  Public  Safety, Juneau,  Alaska,                                                               
provided  the  following  background information  on  the  Alaska                                                               
Police Standards Council (APSC):                                                                                                
     In 1972  the Legislature  created the  Police Standards                                                                    
     Council to  professionalize law enforcement  in Alaska.                                                                    
     We  were given  the  power and  authority to  establish                                                                    
     regulations   that   deal    with   hiring,   training,                                                                    
     certification,  and in  some  cases decertification  of                                                                    
     officers across  the state.  A few  years later  we had                                                                    
     added  to   our  repertoire:   corrections,  probation,                                                                    
     parole,  and what  are known  as municipal  corrections                                                                    
     officers; so,  we certify all  of those. We  have about                                                                    
     2500  different  certified  officers in  the  state  of                                                                    
     Alaska that we  track and try to train as  best we can,                                                                    
     and   we   are   responsible  for   maintaining   their                                                                    
He said  the intent of SB  148 is to  give APSC a tool  to assist                                                               
rural public safety agencies in hiring and retaining officers.                                                                  
He remarked that most people  assume that every police officer in                                                               
Alaska has passed a  fingerprint-based background check; however,                                                               
that is  not always the  case. He  explained that while  APSC has                                                               
established regulations that mandate  a police officer have their                                                               
fingerprints taken  and run through the  national computer system                                                               
to  verify identity  and past  criminal history,  those are  only                                                               
done by  regulation and  in some cases  rural communities  do not                                                               
have the necessary infrastructure or capabilities to do that.                                                                   
He disclosed that by statute,  rural communities are not required                                                               
to run  a fingerprint-based background check;  however, they must                                                               
comply  with   both  federal  and  state   regulations  regarding                                                               
information access, protection, and security.  He added that if a                                                               
rural community was  to institute any kind  of electronic inquiry                                                               
system, they  would have to  have secure data  lines, specialized                                                               
routing equipment  and terminals,  and physical security  for the                                                               
equipment. He said an electronic  inquiry system is expensive and                                                               
most of the state's rural communities cannot accommodate that.                                                                  
4:18:16 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRIFFITHS explained that SB  148 fixes a recent problem where                                                               
federal  regulation  that  governs  fingerprints  and  background                                                               
checks  regard  the  police   officer's  standards  and  training                                                               
programs across  the country of  which most states,  like Alaska,                                                               
as "post agencies"  that are regarded as a  "licensing agency" as                                                               
opposed to  a "criminal  justice agency."  He explained  that for                                                               
access to  be granted under  federal law to the  criminal justice                                                               
system data which  is where the fingerprint  data resides, Alaska                                                               
must  have  statutory authority  for  access.  He specified  that                                                               
Alaska's  current authority  exists  only in  regulation, not  in                                                               
statute;  as  a  result,  SB  148  was  drafted  to  address  the                                                               
statutory   requirement.  He   summarized  that   Alaska's  rural                                                               
communities will be assisted by  acceptance of fingerprints where                                                               
they were  taken by someone  in the community, state  trooper, or                                                               
village public safety officer.                                                                                                  
4:20:31 PM                                                                                                                    
He provided a sectional analysis as follows:                                                                                    
   • Summary:                                                                                                               
     This  bill  adds   to  the  power  of  APSC   to  request  a                                                               
     fingerprint  based national  criminal history  records check                                                               
     from the Federal Bureau of  Investigations (FBI) through the                                                               
     Alaska Department  Public Safety  (DPS) for admittance  to a                                                               
     basic police training program or  for employment as a police                                                               
     officer, if  the prospective employer  does not  have access                                                               
     to a criminal justice information system (CJIS).                                                                           
   • Section 1:                                                                                                             
     Amends  AS  12.62.400   (National  Criminal  History  record                                                               
     checks  for  employment,  licensing, and  other  noncriminal                                                               
     justice  purposes) to  include  the new  subsection (a)  (1)                                                               
     (19) allowing  for a fingerprint  based records check  to be                                                               
     submitted  to  the FBI  for  admittance  to a  basic  police                                                               
     training   program  under   AS   18.65.230  (APSC   training                                                               
     programs)  or  for  employment as  a  police  officer  under                                                               
     18.65.240  (APSC  standards  for  appointment  as  a  police                                                               
     officer), if  the prospective employer does  not have access                                                               
     to CJIS.                                                                                                                   
   • Section 2:                                                                                                             
     Amends AS 18.65.220 (Powers of  the APSC) to include the new                                                               
     subsection (8) which requires a  state and national criminal                                                               
     history  check  for  an  applicant  to  a  training  program                                                               
     established  in  AS  18.65.230  and   for  a  person  to  be                                                               
     appointed as  a police  officer under  AS 18.65.240  if that                                                               
     person's prospective  employer does not have  access to CJIS                                                               
     to conduct their own criminal history check.                                                                               
   • Section 3:                                                                                                             
     Amends  AS 18.65.230  (APSC training  programs) by  adding a                                                               
     new  subsection   (b)  which   requires  an   applicant  for                                                               
     appointment  as a  police  officer or  for  admittance to  a                                                               
     training program  to submit  fingerprints and  a fee  to the                                                               
     APSC unless the applicant's employer has done this.                                                                        
   • Section 4:                                                                                                             
     Amends  AS 18.65.240  (APSC standards)  to  reflect the  new                                                               
     subsection (d), added below in Section 5.                                                                                  
   • Section 5:                                                                                                             
     Amends  AS   18.65.240  (APSC  standards)   to  add   a  new                                                               
     subsection  (d)   which  limits  the  issuing   of  an  APSC                                                               
     certificate  unless  the  council determines  the  applicant                                                               
     will undergo  a national criminal history  record check pre-                                                               
     employment; and  requiring a prospective employer  to submit                                                               
     an applicant's  fingerprints to  the council  for submission                                                               
     to the  FBI if the  prospective employer does not  have CJIS                                                               
     access. The  criminal history records  check is  required to                                                               
     assure applicants meet minimum  standards established by the                                                               
   • Section 6:                                                                                                             
     Amends   AS  18.65.290   (Definitions)  by   adding  a   new                                                               
     subsection (9) which clarifies that  the meaning of criminal                                                               
     justice  information  system  is  the meaning  given  in  AS                                                               
   • Section 7:                                                                                                             
     Specifies the  applicability of the  act applies  to persons                                                               
     that  apply  for admittance  to  a  police training  program                                                               
     under AS  18.65.230 or to  be appointed as a  police officer                                                               
     under AS  18.65.240 on or  after the effective date  of this                                                               
   • Section 8:                                                                                                             
     Includes a  reviser's instruction  to change  the catch-line                                                               
     of  AS  18.65.230  from  "Training  programs"  to  "Training                                                               
     programs; fingerprints.                                                                                                    
4:23:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER asked  who would be liable if something  happens in a                                                               
smaller  area that  has  not gone  through  the background  check                                                               
MR. GRIFFITHS  surmised that the  community where  the individual                                                               
is working would  assume most of the liability.  He admitted that                                                               
liability  would  be  decreased  if the  individuals  go  through                                                               
APSC's  background  check,  training program,  and  certification                                                               
CHAIR MEYER asked how large the  communities are and if they have                                                               
taxing capabilities for hiring.                                                                                                 
MR.   GRIFFITHS   answered   that   the   communities   must   be                                                               
incorporated. He  added that the legislation  targets communities                                                               
under  1,000 in  population that  are  off the  road system.  The                                                               
targeted communities  are primarily in the  Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta                                                               
and Northwest Arctic Borough areas.                                                                                             
CHAIR MEYER  asked if APSC  would be able  to get to  the smaller                                                               
communities to do fingerprint checks.                                                                                           
MR.  GRIFFITHS replied  that APSC  would be  able to  preform the                                                               
fingerprint checks through its partnership with DPS.                                                                            
4:25:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MEYER asked  if the  officers in  the smaller  communities                                                               
carry weapons.                                                                                                                  
MR.  GRIFFITHS  answered  that  some of  the  officers  do  carry                                                               
weapons. He  assumed that  the officers  that carry  weapons have                                                               
been  through   the  APSC/DPS  training  programs   and  met  the                                                               
requirements;  however, their  officers are  not prohibited  from                                                               
carrying a firearm.  The option is up to the  community and their                                                               
community standards.                                                                                                            
CHAIR  MEYER  said  the  concern  is that  some  of  the  smaller                                                               
communities  are  hiring  individuals  that may  or  may  not  be                                                               
qualified to be  law enforcement and may or may  not be enforcing                                                               
the  state's  laws. He  asked  if  the  officers in  the  smaller                                                               
communities  are  on  the  Alaska  Public  Employees'  Retirement                                                               
System (PERS).                                                                                                                  
MR. GRIFFITHS answered  that he did not know but  would follow up                                                               
with the information.                                                                                                           
CHAIR MEYER remarked  that there should be some way  to make sure                                                               
that the individuals are qualified.                                                                                             
4:26:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER opened public testimony.                                                                                            
4:26:55 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHIE  WASSERMAN, Executive  Director, Alaska  Municipal League,                                                               
Juneau, Alaska, testified in support  of SB 148. She detailed the                                                               
public  safety challenges  faced by  smaller municipalities.  She                                                               
remarked that SB  148 is a bill  that makes it easier  to get the                                                               
smaller  municipalities that  do  have a  Village Police  Officer                                                               
(VPO) to do  what they need to do for  community safety and avoid                                                               
costly  lawsuits.   She  noted  that  the   background  check  is                                                               
typically something that the smaller  municipalities cannot do on                                                               
their own.  She noted that  enrollment into PERS  is inconsistent                                                               
within each community.                                                                                                          
CHAIR MEYER asked how smaller municipalities pay for their VPOs.                                                                
MS. WASSERMAN  replied that she  did not know. She  surmised that                                                               
communities with tribal presence may use tribal grants.                                                                         
CHAIR MEYER asked Mr. Griffiths  how VPOs differ from the Village                                                               
Public Safety Officers (VPSO).                                                                                                  
4:30:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRIFFITHS  explained that the communities  benefiting from SB                                                               
148 are the communities with  VPOs. He detailed that APSC adopted                                                               
regulations describing  the different standards that  are applied                                                               
to police  officers, both  for training and  for hiring.  He said                                                               
APSC has recognized that there  is a vast disparity between rural                                                               
law enforcement and  urban law enforcement. He  described the two                                                               
police officer classifications as follows:                                                                                      
     APSC  created two  classifications  of police  officer,                                                                    
     they are still police  officers under the state statute                                                                    
     and under  the law,  but the requirements  are slightly                                                                    
     different  to accommodate  the  needs  and the  limited                                                                    
     resources  of  rural Alaska;  we  call  those folks  in                                                                    
     rural  Alaska  "Village  Police Officers,"  not  to  be                                                                    
     confused  with "Village  Public Safety  Officers" which                                                                    
     are  officers that  are not  employed by  the state  of                                                                    
     Alaska  or  by  the  local  community  but  instead  by                                                                    
     grantees through the Department of Public Safety.                                                                          
CHAIR MEYER asked who pays for VPOs and VPSOs.                                                                                  
MR.  GRIFFITHS   replied  that  VPOs   are  paid  by   the  local                                                               
communities and VPSOs  are paid through the  VPSO program through                                                               
DPS. The  VPSO program is  grant-funded by the state  to regional                                                               
corporations  or  in  one  case  the grantee  is  a  borough.  He                                                               
detailed that VPSOs are trained, certified and managed by DPS.                                                                  
CHAIR  MEYER  asked him  to  confirm  that  the VPSOs  are  state                                                               
MR. GRIFFITHS  clarified that  VPSOs are  funded by  state money,                                                               
but the individuals are not state employees.                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER  asked him to  confirm that VPSOs are  different from                                                               
MR. GRIFFITHS answered yes.                                                                                                     
4:33:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WILSON asked  if the bill is retroactive for  VPOs to get                                                               
their fingerprints and police training.                                                                                         
MR. GRIFFITHS replied as follows:                                                                                               
     I'm  not   sure  "retroactive"   would  be   the  right                                                                    
     terminology because  our regulations  currently require                                                                    
     this. If they are currently  serving in a community and                                                                    
     haven't  complied with  those  regulations  or if  this                                                                    
     statute were  to be  adopted with  a statute,  we would                                                                    
     still assist them in coming into compliance with both.                                                                     
SENATOR WILSON assumed that the  financial burden for fingerprint                                                               
submission  would be  up to  the communities  and asked  what the                                                               
cost is.                                                                                                                        
MR. GRIFFITHS replied that the  cost for a licensing, fingerprint                                                               
background check is $47.                                                                                                        
CHAIR MEYER asked if VPO turnover is high.                                                                                      
MR. GRIFFITHS  answered that turnover  for VPOs  is exceptionally                                                               
high. He opined that  part of the issue is that  VPOs do not have                                                               
an opportunity to enroll in PERS.                                                                                               
CHAIR MEYER  pointed out that  SB 148 has  a fiscal note  for DPS                                                               
with corrections forthcoming.                                                                                                   
4:36:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL moved to report SB 148, version: 30-GS2594\A                                                                    
from committee with individual recommendations and forthcoming                                                                  
updated fiscal notes.                                                                                                           
4:36:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER announced that there being no objection, the motion                                                                 
4:37:11 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Meyer adjourned the Senate State Affairs Standing                                                                         
Committee at 4:37 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB164 Transmittal Letter.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB164 Ver A.PDF SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB164 DEC Fiscal Note.PDF SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB 148 Hearing Request-signed.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB0148A.PDF SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB 148 Sectional Analysis version A.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB148-DPS-APSC-01-18-18.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB148 Additional Information Letter 2.6.2018.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB164 and OSV Overview 02.08.2018.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 164