Legislature(2005 - 2006)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/01/2005 09:00 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 178(FIN) Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 185(FIN) Out of Committee
<Bill rescheduled from 3/31/05>
Heard & Held
<Bill Hearing Postponed to 1:30 PM>
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       April 1, 2005                                                                                            
                         9:12 A.M.                                                                                              
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Meyer called the House  Finance Committee meeting to                                                                   
order at 9:12:25 AM.                                                                                                          
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Mike Chenault, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Kevin Meyer, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Bill Stoltze, Vice-Chair                                                                                         
Representative Eric Croft                                                                                                       
Representative Richard Foster                                                                                                   
Representative Mike Hawker                                                                                                      
Representative Jim Holm                                                                                                         
Representative Mike Kelly                                                                                                       
Representative Carl Moses                                                                                                       
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Reggie Joule                                                                                                     
Representative Bruce Weyhrauch                                                                                                  
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Representative  David  Guttenberg;  Representative  Gabrielle                                                                   
LeDoux;  Representative   Kurt  Olson;  Sue   Wright,  Staff,                                                                   
Representative  Mike  Chenault;   Pat  Davidson,  Legislative                                                                   
Auditor,  Legislative   Audit  Division;  Nico   Bus,  Acting                                                                   
Director, Division of Administrative  Services, Department of                                                                   
Natural Resources                                                                                                               
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Duane  Bannock,   Director,  Division   of  Motor   Vehicles,                                                                   
Department  of  Administration,  Anchorage;  Rod  Combellick,                                                                   
Acting  Director,  Division  of  Geological  and  Geophysical                                                                   
Surveys,  Department  of Natural  Resources,  Anchorage;  Dr.                                                                   
Gary  Carver,   Geological  Specialist,  Kodiak;   Dr.  Peter                                                                   
Haeussler, US Geological Survey, Anchorage                                                                                      
HB 83     An Act relating to the Alaska Seismic Hazards                                                                         
          Safety Commission.                                                                                                    
          HB 83 was HEARD and HELD in Committee for further                                                                     
HB 178    An   Act   relating   to  special   motor   vehicle                                                                   
          registration plates; and providing for an                                                                             
          effective date.                                                                                                       
          CS HB 178 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with                                                                    
          a "do pass" recommendation and with a new fiscal                                                                      
         note by the Department of Administration.                                                                              
HB 185    An  Act relating to  immunization of  postsecondary                                                                   
          students for meningitis; and providing for an                                                                         
          effective date.                                                                                                       
          CS HB 185 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with                                                                    
          a "no recommendation" and with zero note #1 by the                                                                    
          Alaska Commission on Post Secondary Education.                                                                        
9:12:58 AM                                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 178                                                                                                            
     An Act relating to special motor vehicle registration                                                                      
     plates; and providing for an effective date.                                                                               
Representative Foster MOVED to  report CS HB 178 (FIN) out of                                                                   
Committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal  note.  There being NO  OBJECTION, it was                                                                   
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
CS HB  178 (FIN)  was reported  out of  Committee with  a "do                                                                   
pass"  recommendation  and with  a  new  fiscal note  by  the                                                                   
Department of Administration.                                                                                                   
9:14:00 AM                                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 185                                                                                                            
     An Act relating to immunization of postsecondary                                                                           
     students for meningitis; and providing for an effective                                                                    
SUE  WRIGHT,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE  MIKE  CHENAULT,  advised                                                                   
that  the  purpose of  HB  185  was to  remove  postsecondary                                                                   
educational  institutions  from   the  applicability  of  the                                                                   
provisions   of  AS   14.48.     It  requires   postsecondary                                                                   
educational institutions  to provide information  and receive                                                                   
a statement from  the student having read the  information on                                                                   
meningococcal  disease  prior   to  attending  or  living  in                                                                   
student housing  for the  said institution.   The Center  for                                                                   
Disease  Control strongly  recommends  immunizations for  all                                                                   
students.   The recommendation  has been  taken seriously  to                                                                   
the point  that many  educational facilities  will not  admit                                                                   
students without immunizations.                                                                                                 
Representative  Holm asked  if the legislation  would  have a                                                                   
public  health  component that  would  incur  a cost  to  the                                                                   
State.   Ms. Wright replied  that at  this point it  does not                                                                   
but could in the future.                                                                                                        
Representative  Holm   asked  how  many  students   would  be                                                                   
immunized.  Ms. Wright explained  that the students would not                                                                   
necessarily  be immunized.   The students  would be  informed                                                                   
that the  disease exists.  She  recalled a specific  story in                                                                   
Unalaska, emphasizing the seriousness of the issue.                                                                             
Vice-Chair  Stoltze asked  if there was  movement to  require                                                                   
immunization  as  a  condition  of enrollment.    Ms.  Wright                                                                   
responded that was not the long-term  intent.  The Center for                                                                   
Disease Control  is currently  recommending immunizations  at                                                                   
this  time and  that it  could  become a  requirement in  the                                                                   
Vice-Chair Stoltze  inquired if that was the  Sponsor's goal.                                                                   
Ms. Wright  did not believe  that was  the goal but  that she                                                                   
would want it  for her child.  Vice-Chair Stoltze  noted that                                                                   
a similar situation  had touched his family.   He agreed that                                                                   
awareness and education are important for everyone.                                                                             
Representative  Kelly questioned  the risks.   He  referenced                                                                   
the new section, Page 3, Line  4, Subsection (d) asking if it                                                                   
would challenge  the State's liability.   Ms.  Wright advised                                                                   
that providers normally provide  immunization and health care                                                                   
warnings and that  the institution would not  be responsible.                                                                   
She  added  that  in response  civil  liability  concerns,  a                                                                   
lawyer can always figure out a  way to sue.  She did not know                                                                   
if the  language would  prevent  or protect  a lawsuit.   She                                                                   
thought that it [the language] provides a comfort zone.                                                                         
Representative   Kelly   warned   about   circumstances   and                                                                   
situations  that could  result in lawsuits.   Co-Chair  Meyer                                                                   
noted  that the  bill had  not  gone to  the House  Judiciary                                                                   
Committee for legal scrutiny.                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Chenault  responded to  Representative Stoltze  that                                                                   
it was  not his intent to  require immunizations,  but rather                                                                   
to inform students.                                                                                                             
9:23:53 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Kelly  agreed with that and asked  if it could                                                                   
be  accomplished if  Section (d)  were removed.   He  worried                                                                   
that  the language  would  make  the State  at  risk for  all                                                                   
diseases.  Co-Chair Chenault agreed  that such an issue could                                                                   
be raised.   He  knew that regardless  of how  well a  job is                                                                   
done, there  usually is  room for  liability concerns  within                                                                   
the   judicial  system.      He  requested   that   attorney,                                                                   
Representative Croft address it.                                                                                                
9:25:52 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Croft agreed with  Representative Kelly.   He                                                                   
thought  that  it would  be  a  difficult lawsuit  anyway  to                                                                   
require someone  to immunize.   He thought that  the language                                                                   
could be misread  by the judiciary system and  added that the                                                                   
bill would be safer without that language.                                                                                      
Representative Kelly MOVED to  ADOPT Amendment #1 which would                                                                   
delete  Section (d),  Page  3,  Lines 4-7.    There being  NO                                                                   
OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                                                                                      
Representative Foster MOVED to  report CS HB 185 (FIN) out of                                                                   
Committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal  note.  There being NO  OBJECTION, it was                                                                   
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
CS HB  185 (FIN)  was reported  out of  Committee with  a "no                                                                   
recommendation"  and   with  zero  note  #1   by  the  Alaska                                                                   
Commission on Post Secondary Education.                                                                                         
9:29:26 AM                                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 83                                                                                                             
     An Act relating to the Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety                                                                       
83 would extend  the termination date for the  Alaska Seismic                                                                   
Hazards Safety Commission  until June 30, 2010  and would add                                                                   
"tsunami" to all of the sections  addressing the scope of the                                                                   
work of the Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission.                                                                           
Representative LeDoux continued,  with more than 33,000 miles                                                                   
of  shoreline, Alaska  has been  and could  be devastated  by                                                                   
earthquakes and tsunamis.   Since about 1900,  Alaska has had                                                                   
80  magnitude  7  or  larger  earthquakes.    Tsunamis  could                                                                   
greatly affect the fishing industry  in coastal Alaska as was                                                                   
evidenced in the  1964 Alaska earthquake, which  impacted the                                                                   
coastal  communities  of  Prince  William  Sound  and  caused                                                                   
immense  damage recently  to  the fisheries  and  aquaculture                                                                   
sectors of the affected countries in the Indian Ocean.                                                                          
Alaska accounts  for more  than half  of all the  earthquakes                                                                   
that  occur  in  the  U.S.  and  about  ten  percent  of  all                                                                   
earthquakes  worldwide.    One  of the  roles  of  a  Seismic                                                                   
Hazards  Safety Commission  would be to  provide a  proactive                                                                   
resource  for  State  and  local   government  officials  and                                                                   
Alaskan  communities   that  want  assistance   in  acquiring                                                                   
information   and  guidance   necessary   to  help   mitigate                                                                   
earthquake and tsunami hazards.                                                                                                 
Representative LeDoux  concluded that Alaska's  population is                                                                   
growing and  the State's infrastructure  is developing.   The                                                                   
Alaska Seismic  Hazards Safety Commission could  play a vital                                                                   
role  in reducing  earthquake  related  losses.   The  Alaska                                                                   
Seismic  Hazards Safety  Commission  would  be an  invaluable                                                                   
asset in  promoting the  earthquake preparation essential  to                                                                   
reducing earthquake  threats and  future losses to  the State                                                                   
that, without effective mitigation  measures, are inevitable.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  DAVID GUTTENBERG,  SPONSOR, pointed  out that                                                                   
the  Commission  would have  no  authority.   The  Commission                                                                   
would be  charged to do what  is not currently being  done in                                                                   
the State.   He  commented  on the need  to save  lives.   He                                                                   
addressed  insurance  concerns   and  that  rates  should  be                                                                   
different.   At  this  time, there  are  no individual  units                                                                   
statewide to  determine risk factors,  and that would  be the                                                                   
work  of  the   Commission.    He  pointed   out  that  local                                                                   
government members had been added  to reflect local concerns.                                                                   
Alaska has the  largest risk nationally and that  the work of                                                                   
the  Commission would  be  to determine  how  to address  and                                                                   
prevent those risks.                                                                                                            
9:34:52 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Meyer commented that  in 2001, a Commission had been                                                                   
established.  He noted that Governor  Knowles did not appoint                                                                   
any  members nor  did Governor  Murkowski, later.   He  asked                                                                   
Representative  Guttenberg responded  that  it "fell  through                                                                   
the cracks".  He thought that  the Governor now would support                                                                   
the legislation.                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Meyer  pointed  out   that  he  had  supported  the                                                                   
Commission in 2001 and that he still supports it.                                                                               
9:35:51 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Chenault  inquired  where the  funding  would  come                                                                   
from.   Representative  LeDoux referenced  the attached  zero                                                                   
note.    She added  that  Nico  Bus from  the  Department  of                                                                   
Natural  Resources would  address  the fiscal  aspect of  the                                                                   
Co-Chair  Chenault reiterated  concern  regarding the  fiscal                                                                   
9:37:19 AM                                                                                                                    
NICO  BUS,   ACTING  DIRECTOR,  DIVISION   OF  ADMINISTRATIVE                                                                   
SERVICES,  DEPARTMENT OF  NATURAL  RESOURCES, explained  that                                                                   
money had been transferred to the Department's base budget.                                                                     
Co-Chair Chenault reiterated his  fiscal concerns in creating                                                                   
a new commission.  Mr. Bus replied  that the estimated amount                                                                   
of money  needed for  the Commission  would be  approximately                                                                   
$10 thousand  dollars  and would provide  for the  Commission                                                                   
meeting about  four times a year,  twice in person  and twice                                                                   
by teleconference.                                                                                                              
Representative  Holm commented  on  a Department  of  Natural                                                                   
Resources resource  fiscal analysis.  He pointed  out that in                                                                   
the  last three  years, there  have  been lapsed  funds.   He                                                                   
asked  if  the Department  anticipated  having  $28  thousand                                                                   
dollars lapsed in FY06.                                                                                                         
Mr.  Bus replied  that the  original  amount appropriated  in                                                                   
FY03  went   to  the  Governor's   Office.    In   FY04,  the                                                                   
appropriation  was  transferred   to  Department  of  Natural                                                                   
Resources  and they  did  not use  that money.    Some of  it                                                                   
lapsed.  He added  that in the FY05 budget,  the money exists                                                                   
and through  different  increases, some  of those funds  have                                                                   
been  set aside  for  base operations.    He emphasized  that                                                                   
there are funds set aside for the Commission.                                                                                   
9:39:56 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Holm questioned if  there were extra  dollars                                                                   
in the budget  that had been indicated to go  somewhere else.                                                                   
Mr. Bus stated that there should  be enough money to fund the                                                                   
Commission project from other projects.                                                                                         
Representative  Holm noted that  he was disturbed  by sources                                                                   
of financing  being redirected.   Mr.  Bus reminded  him that                                                                   
there is a zero fiscal note.                                                                                                    
9:41:35 AM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Stoltze inquired  how  the legislation  would  be                                                                   
interfaced  with other  statewide  projects.   Mr. Bus  noted                                                                   
that  Mr.  Combellick  was  on line  and  could  address  the                                                                   
concern.   He pointed out  that there is significant  federal                                                                   
funding at present time.                                                                                                        
9:43:16 AM                                                                                                                    
ROD  COMBELLICK,   (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),   ACTING                                                                   
DIRECTOR,  DIVISION OF  GEOLOGCIAL  AND GEOPHYSICAL  SURVEYS,                                                                   
DEPARTMENT  OF  NATURAL RESOURCES,  ANCHORAGE,  commented  on                                                                   
concerns voiced by  Committee members.  He pointed  out other                                                                   
efforts  happening  in the  State.   There  are  quite a  few                                                                   
efforts,  which  fulfill  one aspect  of  hazard  mitigation,                                                                   
identification and description  of the hazards.  He discussed                                                                   
that there  are many more that  need to be  addressed through                                                                   
mitigation by  taking the information  and putting it  to use                                                                   
to  reduce  hazard  vulnerability.    There  are  significant                                                                   
statewide efforts  happening in the area of  preparedness and                                                                   
Mr. Combellick suggested  that there is a lot  missing in the                                                                   
middle.  There should  be  a unit  to  undertake measures  to                                                                   
reduce  vulnerability  and  in  so  doing,  reduce  need  and                                                                   
recovery.  He added that there  are so many costs that result                                                                   
when disasters  occur.  The  Commission will help  coordinate                                                                   
all efforts.                                                                                                                    
9:45:46 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  GARY  CARVER, (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  SIESMIC                                                                   
GEOLOGIST, KODIAK, reiterated  that the Commission would take                                                                   
measures  before  earthquake  or tsunami  events  occur  that                                                                   
could reduce future looses.  It  would focus on pre-events to                                                                   
help endure  the earthquakes that  are certainly  in Alaska's                                                                   
future.   He  pointed out  that  Alaska is  the most  seismic                                                                   
active  State  in the  Union.   More  than  half  of all  the                                                                   
earthquakes  in the  United  States are  in  Alaska and  that                                                                   
Alaska has 10% of all earthquakes worldwide.                                                                                    
9:47:36 AM                                                                                                                    
Dr.   Carver   continued  by   outlining   seismic   activity                                                                   
throughout the  State.  He pointed  out that the  most active                                                                   
earthquakes  in  Alaska  are  located  in  areas  with  heavy                                                                   
population  density.   He strongly urged  that the  Committee                                                                   
move  the bill  forward,  as it  would  have large  financial                                                                   
benefits to the State.                                                                                                          
9:50:01 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  PETER HAEUSSLER,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  U.S.                                                                   
GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (USGS), ANCHORAGE,  testified in support of                                                                   
the Commission.  He stated that  USGS is the principle entity                                                                   
that  does research  on  earthquake hazards  in  Alaska.   He                                                                   
mentioned the  impacts of the  Alaska seismic  safety hazards                                                                   
on the USGS.                                                                                                                    
Dr. Haeussler  viewed the establishment of the  Commission as                                                                   
a positive  thing.   The  Commission would  result in  better                                                                   
information   dissemination  and   cross-pollination.     The                                                                   
Commission  would  create  a   forum  for  everyone  involved                                                                   
statewide to share issues currently happening.                                                                                  
Dr.  Haeussler stated  that  the Commission  would  establish                                                                   
research statewide  and results in better coordination.    He                                                                   
added that  research information  coming in from  a statewide                                                                   
Commission  would carry  more weight  than any single  group.                                                                   
He concluded that research recommendations  that a Commission                                                                   
should produce would  have the potential to  get more federal                                                                   
funding because of the Alaska's seismic location.                                                                               
9:54:38 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Meyer recommended that the Department provide more                                                                     
fiscal information to the Committee.  He stated that the                                                                        
bill would be held until the scheduled meeting on April 4.                                                                      
HB 83 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                          
The meeting was adjourned at 9:56 A.M.                                                                                          

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