Legislature(2017 - 2018)HOUSE FINANCE 519

02/02/2018 01:30 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 142 UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BENEFITS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ HB 215 DHSS: PUBLIC HEALTH FEES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 142                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to unemployment insurance benefits;                                                                       
     increasing the maximum weekly unemployment insurance                                                                       
    benefit rate; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg  reported  that he  had  asked  a                                                                    
young woman in  the back of the room why  she was supportive                                                                    
of the bill. She had replied  that it would help her pay her                                                                    
mortgage. He was supportive of the legislation.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:20:36 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS TUCK, SPONSOR, provided a summary of                                                                       
the bill:                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
      The   Alaska   Department  of   Labor's   Unemployment                                                                    
     Insurance (UI)  program provides  unemployment benefits                                                                    
     to eligible  workers who  become unemployed  through no                                                                    
     fault of  their own,  working less than  full-time, and                                                                    
     meet certain  other eligibility requirements.  With the                                                                    
     seasonal nature  of much of  the state's  workforce and                                                                    
     Alaska's vast  remoteness, UI  benefits serve  not only                                                                    
     to bridge  the economic gap for  the individual worker,                                                                    
     but   also  as   a  stabilizing   influence  on   local                                                                    
     economies.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     The  current Maximum  Weekly Benefit  Amount (MWBA)  of                                                                    
     $370 only  replaces 36% of  the state's  average weekly                                                                    
     wage of $1,020. An MWBA  of $510 would provide 50% wage                                                                    
     replacement of  the average  weekly wage,  a nationally                                                                    
     recognized norm.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     To compare  to other western  states, the MWBA  rate in                                                                    
     Washington is  $681, Oregon is $590,  and California is                                                                    
     $450. In addition,  Alaska is one of  only three states                                                                    
     where the  cost of providing  UI benefits is  shared by                                                                    
     employers and employees.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     House  Bill  142  would  increase  the  maximum  weekly                                                                    
     benefit amount under  the UI Program in  two steps from                                                                    
     the current $370 to $458 in 2018 and to $510 in 2019.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Among 50  states, the District of  Columbia, and Puerto                                                                    
     Rico, Alaska is:                                                                                                           
         • 39th in Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount                                                                                
          • 44th in Average Weekly Benefit Amount ($252)                                                                        
         • 52nd in Wage Replacement Ratio (.288)                                                                                
          • 9th in Recipiency Rate (unemployed workers                                                                          
          receiving benefits - .37)                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     As a  claimant filing for UI  benefits, individuals are                                                                    
     responsible  for  actively  seeking  suitable  fulltime                                                                    
     employment   and   reporting   activity   for   seeking                                                                    
     employment each week to remain eligible.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The  federal poverty  level for  a family  of three  in                                                                    
     Alaska  for  2016 is  $25,200,  or  $2100 a  month.  An                                                                    
     unemployed  single parent  with two  dependent children                                                                    
     receiving  the MWBA  of $370  plus the  dependent child                                                                    
     allowance of  $24 per child  under 18 (up to  a maximum                                                                    
     of three) receives approximately  $1800 per month in UI                                                                    
     benefits.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     By passing House Bill 142,  Alaska will be more in-line                                                                    
     with  the  average  weekly  benefits  and  provide  the                                                                    
     necessary  financial support  families need  to survive                                                                    
     while seeking employment.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:25:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck reviewed the sectional analysis (copy                                                                       
on file):                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Section  1:  AS  23.20.350(d)      Amends  the  benefit                                                                    
     schedule  by  increasing  the maximum  qualifying  wage                                                                    
     requirement  from $42,000  to  $59,500. The  qualifying                                                                    
     wage schedule  is extended in $250  increments to reach                                                                    
     the   new  maximum   qualifying  amount.   The  benefit                                                                    
     schedule  is   extended  in  $2  increments   for  each                                                                    
     additional  $250 of  qualifying  wages to  reach a  new                                                                    
     maximum weekly benefit amount of $510.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Section   2:  Amends   AS  23.20.350   by  adding   new                                                                    
     subsections:                                                                                                               
     (h) Annually,  after December 31, 2019,  authorizes the                                                                    
     Department to increase the  highest WBA for individuals                                                                    
     earning  at  least  $59,750. The  new  WBA  calculation                                                                    
     shall  amend  the highest  base  period  wages in  $250                                                                    
     increments and the highest WBA  in $2 increments if the                                                                    
     state's average weekly wage  increases. The new maximum                                                                    
     WBA shall not exceed 50% of the average weekly wage.                                                                       
     (i)  Provides  for public  notice  of  any new  benefit                                                                    
     amounts  calculated under  (h)  by December  1 of  each                                                                    
     year by  posting a notice  on the Alaska  Online Public                                                                    
     Notice  System and  allows for  public  comment on  the                                                                    
     accuracy of the Department's calculations.                                                                                 
     New maximum WBAs apply to  benefit years established on                                                                    
     January 1  of each  year and  does not  change existing                                                                    
     claims.                                                                                                                    
     Changes to  the WBA shall  be calculated only  once per                                                                    
     year.                                                                                                                      
     (j)   Establishes   the   calculation   procedure   for                                                                    
     determining Alaska's average weekly  wage by December 1                                                                    
     of each year. The average  weekly wage is determined by                                                                    
     dividing the average  annual wage in the  state for the                                                                    
     preceding  12-month period  ending June  30 by  52. The                                                                    
     state must include wages of  all employees in the state                                                                    
     covered by  this chapter, both  public and  private. If                                                                    
     the calculation  does not result in  whole dollars, the                                                                    
     amount shall be rounded down.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Section 3: Provides for an effective date of January                                                                       
     1, 2018.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:28:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Tuck noted  that the  bill was  not changing                                                                    
the dependent factor.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Gara referenced  opposition  from  the NFIB.  He                                                                    
understood  that calculation  of employer  contributions was                                                                    
written in another area of statute.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck deferred to the department.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
LENNON WELLER, ECONOMIST, DEPARTMENT  OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE                                                                    
DEVELOPMENT, replied  that a  separate statute  AS 23.22.290                                                                    
outlined how tax rates were calculated.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara  asked whether the  bill would  increase the                                                                    
employee contribution.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Weller answered that any time  the cost of a program was                                                                    
increased there  was a corresponding  increase in  tax rates                                                                    
going  forward. There  was a  forecast to  FY24 showing  the                                                                    
difference  employers and  employees would  pay if  the bill                                                                    
passed.  There  was  a 73/27  percent  split  (employer  and                                                                    
employee respectively).                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:31:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara  asked for verification  that in  all states                                                                    
but two the employer covered the costs.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  replied in  the  affirmative -  Pennsylvania                                                                    
and New Jersey were the two  other states that did not cover                                                                    
the costs.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Neuman asked how  the bill would impact self-                                                                    
employed people.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck deferred to the department.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
PATSY  WESTCOTT, CHIEF  OF UNEMPLOYMENT  INSURANCE, DIVISION                                                                    
OF  EMPLOYMENT AND  TRAINING SERVICES,  DEPARTMENT OF  LABOR                                                                    
AND  WORKFORCE  DEVELOPMENT,   answered  that  self-employed                                                                    
individuals did  not pay into  the program and would  not be                                                                    
impacted.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman  recalled  a   similar  bill  on  the                                                                    
subject from  the past. He  spoke of  construction companies                                                                    
and  the complications  surrounding independent  contractors                                                                    
on job sites. He wondered whether the bills were related.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:33:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Tuck   answered    that   the   independent                                                                    
contractor legislation  had more  to do with  cheating Davis                                                                    
Bacon  requirements.  He   explained  that  a  self-employed                                                                    
contractor working on a Davis  Bacon job was not required to                                                                    
pay  themselves the  same  benefits and  wages  laid out  in                                                                    
Title 36. He said that the  bill did not speak to the issue.                                                                    
He added  that with  private contractors the  employer could                                                                    
avoid paying the benefits due to hourly employees.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Neuman stated  that self-employed individuals                                                                    
also  had  to  pay  self-employment  taxes.  He  was  unsure                                                                    
whether the unemployment compensation  act was part of self-                                                                    
employment taxes.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Westcott asked  Representative  Neuman  to restate  the                                                                    
question.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Neuman complied.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms.   Westcott   answered    that   contributions   to   the                                                                    
Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund  were not taken from self-                                                                    
employed  individuals.  The  division  investigated  workers                                                                    
that   were  misclassified   and  reported   incorrectly  as                                                                    
independent  contractors,  those  issues were  addressed  so                                                                    
that the  employer could correctly report  the employees and                                                                    
pay security tax contributions on their behalf.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:35:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Pruitt  asked  when the  employer  paid  the                                                                    
money, withheld  from an  employee's check  for unemployment                                                                    
benefits, to the department.                                                                                                    
Ms. Westcott replied  that the funds were  deducted from the                                                                    
employees check  each pay period  and then held in  trust by                                                                    
the  employer on  behalf  of the  employee.  The funds  were                                                                    
submitted to the department on a quarterly basis.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Pruitt  referenced  the  effective  date  of                                                                    
January 1,  2018. He understood  that this could  affect the                                                                    
payments after March 31, 2018.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Weller answered that tax  rates were calculated once per                                                                    
year by the department and  were effective for the following                                                                    
calendar  year. He  said  that  he could  not  speak to  the                                                                    
retroactive  nature of  the  bill but  that  the three  most                                                                    
recent  state  fiscal years  of  costs  and the  trust  fund                                                                    
balance  at the  end  of September  were  used to  calculate                                                                    
rates for  the following  January. He  did not  believe that                                                                    
rates would  be recalculated  if the  bill went  into effect                                                                    
partway through a calendar year.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Seaton noted that the  bill had been introduced the                                                                    
previous  session and  wondered whether  the effective  date                                                                    
should be updated.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:38:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck answered that  the effective date should                                                                    
be amended.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt  referenced Section 2 of  the bill. He                                                                    
expressed  concern   for  the  elimination   of  legislative                                                                    
control in issues related to the bill.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck  responded that the bill  would bring us                                                                    
up  to  date   with  other  states  by   bringing  the  wage                                                                    
percentage factor up  to 50 percent. He said  that there was                                                                    
a  chart  in  the  packet   that  showed  actual  wage  base                                                                    
predictions through 2024.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt  struggled to understand  the numbers.                                                                    
He hoped that the department could address his concerns.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:40:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman referenced  Line  14, page  9 of  the                                                                    
bill, which  discussed the increase  of weekly  benefits. He                                                                    
wondered whether  the increase mentioned would  be increased                                                                    
to remain at the 50  percent of weekly average determination                                                                    
or would it fluctuate.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Tuck  responded  that it  would  be  changed                                                                    
annually and would be locked in  for a year. The wages would                                                                    
be determined  before November 1, and  the calculation would                                                                    
be used to determine the benefits after January 1.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman   clarified  that  the   increase  or                                                                    
decrease would  depend on the  average wages of  Alaskans at                                                                    
50 percent of the average weekly determined rate.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck answered in the affirmative.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tilton  asked whether  the bill  would impact                                                                    
the Technical Vocational Education Program (TVEP) funds.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck  replied that the legislation  would not                                                                    
impact TVEP  or STEP [State Training  and Education Program]                                                                    
grants.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Westcott  explained  that those  programs  were  funded                                                                    
through a portion of a  tax collected from employees and was                                                                    
dedicated to  the TVEP and  STEP programs prior to  the rest                                                                    
of the  tax being deposited  into the trust fund.  The funds                                                                    
from the trust could only  be used to pay benefits, training                                                                    
programs  were  funded   through  different  federal  grants                                                                    
received by the department.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:44:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg queried the  logistics of the $250                                                                    
increments to  reach the new  maximum qualifying  amount and                                                                    
the $2  increments for each  additional $250  for qualifying                                                                    
wages.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Tuck   referenced   a  handout   from   the                                                                    
Department  of  Labor  and Workforce  Development  (copy  on                                                                    
file):                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     • For every additional $250 in base year wages, $2 is                                                                      
        added to  the  weekly  benefit,  with  the  schedule                                                                    
        maxing out at a  base year wage of  $42,000 and $370                                                                    
        weekly   benefit    (excluding    dependent    child                                                                    
        allowances, if applicable).                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg understood that  the rate would go                                                                    
up automatically as pay wages increased to $250.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck replied that  the number would be locked                                                                    
in annually.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Pruitt  asked  whether someone  could  speak                                                                    
about the fiscal note.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Westcott  deferred  to the  Office  of  Management  and                                                                    
Budget.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt  asked about  the mechanism  that made                                                                    
the  employee percentage  of  contribution  at average  rate                                                                    
class go down over the next 5 years under the legislation.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Weller answered that the  decrease was due to the change                                                                    
in the minimum tax rates.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:48:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara referenced  Page 7  of the  legislation                                                                    
and stated that the benefit rate had not increased.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck replied in the affirmative.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Gara understood  that the  bill assumed  that as                                                                    
wages went up with inflation the benefit also increased.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck  answered in the affirmative.  Whether a                                                                    
person was  making $42,000  or $84,000  per year,  they were                                                                    
locked  in at  the  #370  per month.  He  speculated that  a                                                                    
person  making   $84,000  per   year  probably   had  higher                                                                    
expenses.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Neuman  asked   about  people   filing  for                                                                    
disability  insurance.  He  asked  whether  the  bill  would                                                                    
increase disability payments.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:51:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tuck  answered that the bill  only dealt with                                                                    
unemployment insurance.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman  remarked  that   he  had  not  known                                                                    
whether disability insurance fell under //                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt  referred to the  indeterminate fiscal                                                                    
note. He hoped  that an estimate of cost to  the state could                                                                    
be determined.                                                                                                                  
CAROLINE SCHULTZ,  POLICY ANALYST, OFFICE OF  MANAGEMENT AND                                                                    
BUDGET, responded that  OMB had used actual  state costs and                                                                    
liabilities from  2017 to  model as  if the  legislation had                                                                    
been in  effect in  2017. There had  been about  1,500 state                                                                    
employees   that   qualified    for   the   benefits   under                                                                    
unemployment  insurance.  She  reminded the  committee  that                                                                    
state employees  and the  state as an  employer did  not pay                                                                    
into the unemployment fund through  the traditional tax that                                                                    
most employers did, rather the  state reimbursed the fund as                                                                    
the  state. If  a state  employee  made a  claim, the  state                                                                    
reimbursed the fund,  which came out of  the working reserve                                                                    
fund. She said  that the cost difference to  the state would                                                                    
have been  $456.6 thousand more  dollars out of  the working                                                                    
reserve fund in the 2017  calendar year; the state paid $4.4                                                                    
million  in calendar  year 2017  and had  the 487  claimants                                                                    
qualified for the  higher rate greater that  $370, the total                                                                    
cost to the state would have been $4.9 million.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Pruitt  stated   that  the  explanation  was                                                                    
helpful.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:54:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Seaton  asked whether the department  could craft a                                                                    
new  fiscal note  that reflected  the fiscal  impact due  to                                                                    
inflation adjustment.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Schultz said that because  the amounts of employees that                                                                    
would  be claiming  against the  fund, and  what their  base                                                                    
wages   would   be,   the   fiscal   impact   would   remain                                                                    
indeterminate.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Seaton relayed  that the  bill would  be heard  on                                                                    
February  7, 2018.  He asked  amendments to  be in  Co-Chair                                                                    
Foster's office by 5:00 pm on February 6.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:56:34 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:56:52 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Seaton OPENED public testimony.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
TRENTON ENGLISH, SOUTHEAST  REPRESENTATIVE, ALASKA LABORERS,                                                                    
JUNEAU, testified  in favor  of the bill.  He felt  that the                                                                    
rising  cost  of  living  should   be  considered  and  that                                                                    
unemployment benefits  should be  increased to  help working                                                                    
Alaskans.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:58:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOSHUA GARDNER,  LABORERS 942, JUNEAU,  spoke in  support of                                                                    
the  bill. He  shared  that  it had  been  a  slow year  for                                                                    
construction workers  and if he was  lucky he worked 7  to 8                                                                    
months of the year, making $800  to $1,000 per week. He said                                                                    
that  when he  was on  unemployment he  made $370  per week,                                                                    
which made  it difficult to  support his family  and prepare                                                                    
for emergency expenses.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:59:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SYDNE  WILLIAMSON,  CARPENTERS  1281, JUNEAU,  testified  in                                                                    
support of  the legislation. She shared  her personal story.                                                                    
She relayed that  she had worked jobs she did  not enjoy and                                                                    
had  lived in  the women's  shelter.  She had  gone back  to                                                                    
school and  she was now a  carpenter. She loved her  job and                                                                    
worked  hard  to  support  herself  and  her  daughter.  She                                                                    
relayed that she had to have  a roommate to afford living in                                                                    
Juneau.  She  had been  part  of  the  crew that  built  the                                                                    
building at  the airport.  She was  now out  of work  as the                                                                    
nature of carpentry  work was job by job. She  felt that she                                                                    
should  not have  to deplete  her savings  while in  between                                                                    
jobs.  She  asked  the committee  to  consider  raising  the                                                                    
weekly unemployment insurance benefit rate.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:02:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KYLEE LARSEN,  LOCAL 1281, JUNEAU,  spoke in support  of the                                                                    
bill. She stated  that the economy in Alaska  thrived in the                                                                    
summer months. She spoke to  struggling to find work and pay                                                                    
bills.  She  was  a  first-year   apprentice  in  the  local                                                                    
carpenters' union.  She had broken  her hand earlier  in the                                                                    
year  and had  healed,  but  the work  was  now scarce.  She                                                                    
stated  that the  average daycare  charged $900,  per month,                                                                    
per child, which  was a major stressor on top  of food, gas,                                                                    
and rent.  She lamented that these  factors left hardworking                                                                    
individuals to contemplate moving to another state.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:04:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LANCE    NELSON,    IRONWORKERS    751,    FAIRBANKS    (via                                                                    
teleconference), spoke  in favor of  the bill. He  felt that                                                                    
when   work  slowed,   and   lay-offs   occurred,  the   low                                                                    
unemployment benefits forced people  to move out-of-state to                                                                    
find work and benefit  from better unemployment benefits. He                                                                    
stressed  that $370  per week  was  not a  livable wage  for                                                                    
Alaska  families.   He  argued  that  the   funds  were  not                                                                    
considered  a  luxury by  needy  working  families but  went                                                                    
right back into the economy  being spent on home heat, food,                                                                    
and rent.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:06:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JD  WILKERSON, LOCAL  751,  FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke in favor of the  legislation. He indicated he had seen                                                                    
his volume  of work drop  about 50  percent over the  past 2                                                                    
years. He reported  that over the last couple  of years he'd                                                                    
seen young  workers forced  to leave  Alaska. He  hoped that                                                                    
the states economy  could provide the means  for families to                                                                    
remain in the state.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Seaton   indicated  the   legislative  information                                                                    
office was having technical difficulties.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:10:22 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:11:55 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Seaton  reported  that  there  were  4  additional                                                                    
testifiers in Anchorage.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:13:14 PM                                                                                                                    
At EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:14:12 PM                                                                                                                    
RECOVENED                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DUSTIN  SWATEK,  PNWRCC,   ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke in  favor of HB  142. He said  that much of  the trade                                                                    
work  in the  state  was seasonal.  He  lamented that  these                                                                    
workers often  lived paycheck to paycheck.  He believed that                                                                    
a  raise in  the  unemployment benefits  would help  workers                                                                    
meet their financial needs until they could procure work.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:15:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RYAN    ANDREW,   IBEW    LOCAL    1547,   ANCHORAGE    (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified in  support of  the legislation.                                                                    
The  state  was  experiencing tough  economic  times,  which                                                                    
meant the  union had  seen members move  from the  state for                                                                    
work in other locations. He  felt an increase in the benefit                                                                    
would retain the Alaskan workforce.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:16:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEVIN MACKY, IBEW LOCAL  1547, WASILLA (via teleconference),                                                                    
spoke  in  favor of  the  bill.  He  shared that  about  220                                                                    
members worked a seasonal career.  The bill would be a major                                                                    
benefit, especially in  the winter. He was  a constituent of                                                                    
Representative Tilton. He  spoke to the high  cost of living                                                                    
and low unemployment insurance.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:17:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VINCE    BELTRAMI,    ALCSKS   AFL-CIO,    ANCHORAGE    (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified  in  support of  the  bill.  The                                                                    
current amount  of $370 per week  was over a decade  old. He                                                                    
said  that due  to  inflation, people  collecting that  $370                                                                    
rate had  lost $62,  per week. He  stressed that  Alaska was                                                                    
behind  most   other  states   for  wage   replacement.  The                                                                    
organization had over 1,000 members  working in the Lower 48                                                                    
because they  could not  wait to find  work in  Alaska while                                                                    
living under  a paltry  wage replacement. He  referenced the                                                                    
Alaska  Workforce  Investment  Board that  had  submitted  a                                                                    
letter  unanimously endorsing  the bill.  He referenced  the                                                                    
number of  employers supporting  the bill.  He felt  that if                                                                    
the state  was on the  brink of  building a new  pipeline it                                                                    
was necessary to have a workforce ready to work.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:22:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Seaton   CLOSED  public  testimony.   He  reminded                                                                    
members of the  amendment deadline of 5:00  p.m. on February                                                                    
6.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:23:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Neuman   queried    the   last   time   the                                                                    
unemployment insurance had been raised.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Westcott answered that the  last time the weekly benefit                                                                    
amount had  been raised in  the state was  effective January                                                                    
1, 2009.  Prior to  that the  maximum weekly  benefit amount                                                                    
had been $248.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:24:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HB 142 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                              
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Seaton discussed housekeeping.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB215 Draft Proposed CS Ver O.PDF HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 215
HB215 Explanation of changes Ver J to Ver O 1.18.18.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 215
HB215 Sponsor Statement ver O 1.17.18.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 215
HB215 Sectional Analysis ver O 1.17.18.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 215
HB215 Public Health Briefing Paper 2018.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 215
HB142 Additional Document - WBA Charts from DOL 1.29.18.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Additional Document - Updated facts from DOL 1.29.18.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 142
HB 142Letter-DOLWD to HFIN 1.30.18.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 142
HB 142 Letter in Opposition 2.1.2018.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 142
HB 142-Letter in support DOLWD to HFIN 1.30.18.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 142
HB 215 DHSS slides HFIN 2-2-2018.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 215
ASHNHA HB 215 Letter 1-31-18.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 215
HB142 Support Document - Support Letters 2.1.18.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Support Document - Support Letters 2.2.18.pdf HFIN 2/2/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 142