Legislature(2021 - 2022)ADAMS 519

03/08/2022 09:00 AM House FINANCE

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09:01:20 AM Start
09:01:52 AM HB149
10:08:08 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Scheduled but Not Heard
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Scheduled but Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       March 8, 2022                                                                                            
                         9:01 a.m.                                                                                              
9:01:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Merrick called the  House Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 9:01 a.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Kelly Merrick, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Ben Carpenter (via teleconference)                                                                               
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Sara Rasmussen                                                                                                   
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Representative Zach  Fields, Sponsor; Tristan  Walsh, Staff,                                                                    
Representative Zach Fields.                                                                                                     
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Candice Richey, Home Child Care  Provider, Candi's Tot Stop,                                                                    
Fairbanks;  Christina   Eubanks-Ohana,  Executive  Director,                                                                    
Hillcrest  Children's   Center,  Anchorage;   Blue  Shibler,                                                                    
Southeast  Alaska Association  for  the  Education of  Young                                                                    
Children,   Juneau;  Mike   Coons,   Self,  Palmer;   Nicole                                                                    
Thibodeau, Hearing Examiner  and Administrator, Alaska Labor                                                                    
Relations   Agency,  Department   of  Labor   and  Workforce                                                                    
HB 104    MOTOR FUEL TAX; VEHICLE REG. FEE                                                                                      
          HB 104 was SCHEDULED but not HEARD.                                                                                   
HB 149    CHILD CARE PROVIDER COLLECTIVE BARGAINING                                                                             
          HB 149 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
HB 158    PFD CONTRIBUTIONS TO GENERAL FUND                                                                                     
          HB 158 was SCHEDULED but not HEARD.                                                                                   
Co-Chair Merrick reviewed the meeting agenda.                                                                                   
HOUSE BILL NO. 149                                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to allowing certain child day care                                                                        
     providers to organize for the purpose of collective                                                                        
9:01:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ZACH FIELDS,  SPONSOR, introduced  the bill.                                                                    
He provided a PowerPoint  presentation titled "Raising Wages                                                                    
and  Benefits for  Child  Care Workers  (HB  149)" (copy  on                                                                    
file).   He   highlighted   the  challenges   facing   local                                                                    
businesses related  to workforce  and an adequate  supply of                                                                    
childcare for people to get back  in the labor market as the                                                                    
state  recovered from  the  COVID-19  pandemic. He  informed                                                                    
committee  members there  had been  a shortage  of childcare                                                                    
for a long time, which was  directly related to low wages in                                                                    
the sector. He  explained that low wages  made it impossible                                                                    
to recruit and  retain staff to an adequate  level to supply                                                                    
childcare,  which  was  necessary  for people  to  work.  He                                                                    
remarked that  the pandemic had exacerbated  the problem and                                                                    
the childcare system was in crisis.                                                                                             
Representative  Fields  shared  that  the  House  Labor  and                                                                    
Commerce Committee  had worked to brainstorm  every possible                                                                    
idea  to  support the  childcare  sector  and had  passed  a                                                                    
couple of related  bills. One of the bills was  a tax credit                                                                    
for  employers who  provide childcare  onsite  or through  a                                                                    
subsidy. The  second bill was HB  149, which took more  of a                                                                    
systematic approach. He remarked  it had been interesting to                                                                    
hear  from  stakeholders  during   the  Labor  and  Commerce                                                                    
Committee process.  He had personally learned  a significant                                                                    
amount  through the  process. The  number one  thing he  had                                                                    
heard from  providers   the impetus  for HB 149 -  was about                                                                    
their need to  be empowered to have more  control over their                                                                    
own destiny to fix the  systemic problem of inadequate wages                                                                    
to recruit and retain workforce.                                                                                                
Representative  Fields  believed   the  problem  was  fairly                                                                    
obvious. He  highlighted that  the average  [childcare] wage                                                                    
was around  $13.50 per hour  and Target and Safeway  paid an                                                                    
average  of  $20 per  hour,  meaning  there would  never  be                                                                    
enough  childcare providers.  He  considered the  difference                                                                    
between childcare  and a coffee  shop. He explained  that if                                                                    
there was an  inadequate supply of coffee at  a coffee shop,                                                                    
it  did  not  necessarily  have a  systemic  impact  on  the                                                                    
economy,   whereas  an   inadequate   supply  of   childcare                                                                    
prevented working  age people in  every other  industry from                                                                    
being at work,  which had a negative systemic  impact on the                                                                    
economy.  He viewed  childcare as  a necessary  service that                                                                    
allowed people to participate in the workforce.                                                                                 
Representative  Fields  highlighted   that  early  childhood                                                                    
education   was  essential   in  terms   of  human   capital                                                                    
development  and  workforce  development. He  detailed  that                                                                    
early  childhood   education  had  the  highest   return  on                                                                    
investment.   He  elaborated   that  providing   good  early                                                                    
childhood  care produced  workers who  were more  productive                                                                    
over the  long-term. He  cited work  by the  economist James                                                                    
Heckman and  pointed to a  graph titled "Economic  impact of                                                                    
investing in  early childhood learning" on  the bottom right                                                                    
of slide  3. The graph  showed investing in  early childhood                                                                    
learning  had a  higher  return on  investment  than at  any                                                                    
other stage in life.                                                                                                            
9:05:51 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Fields   addressed   lessons   from   other                                                                    
states/nations on  slide 4. He highlighted  that every other                                                                    
developed country in the world  invests a significant amount                                                                    
of  money directly  to childcare,  ranging  from $10,000  to                                                                    
$30,000 per  child per year  (with Norway being on  the high                                                                    
end). He underscored that the  United States (U.S.) invested                                                                    
under $1,000  per child  per year. He  stated that  the U.S.                                                                    
did  not   make  a  meaningful  investment   in  subsidizing                                                                    
childcare for  working families, unlike every  other western                                                                    
Representative  Fields  considered  what could  be  done  to                                                                    
strengthen the sector  if the country was not  going to make                                                                    
the  political  decision  to start  investing  thousands  of                                                                    
dollars  per  child per  year.  He  reported that  11  other                                                                    
states had established  bargaining structures for home-based                                                                    
childcare  providers to  bargain with  the state  to provide                                                                    
livable  wages  and  benefits  that  expand  the  supply  of                                                                    
childcare  providers. He  expounded  that  Illinois was  the                                                                    
first state to develop the  structure in 2005 and California                                                                    
was the  most recent.  He explained  that the  structure was                                                                    
called a sectoral bargaining model  where the entire sector,                                                                    
including workers  and owners, bargained as  one. He relayed                                                                    
that HB 149 was based on the model.                                                                                             
Representative Fields  explained that  HB 149 looked  at one                                                                    
model  for expanding  the supply  of  childcare by  directly                                                                    
addressing the issue of inadequate  wages. He thought it was                                                                    
important to  note that HB  149 and the  sectoral bargaining                                                                    
model  was  not the  only  option.  He reviewed  four  other                                                                    
options  the   House  Labor   and  Commerce   Committee  had                                                                    
considered  on  slide 5.  First,  the  state could  directly                                                                    
supply  care; however,  he  did not  believe  there was  the                                                                    
political  will  to  directly   subsidize  childcare  on  an                                                                    
ongoing basis to the tune  of thousands of dollars per child                                                                    
per year.  He reiterated his  earlier statement that  it was                                                                    
the method used by every  other western country; however, he                                                                    
did not believe there was  the political bandwidth to do so.                                                                    
Second, the  state could use  an opt-in  sectoral bargaining                                                                    
structure  to negotiate  wages/benefits with  the state  (as                                                                    
envisioned in HB 149).                                                                                                          
Representative   Fields  highlighted   a  third   option  to                                                                    
establish  a  living  wage  covering   all  workers  in  the                                                                    
childcare industry.  He noted that many  childcare providers                                                                    
had discussed the option. He  stated it was a simple policy.                                                                    
He believed the biggest drawback  to the option was that the                                                                    
living wage  may not be  economically viable in  the absence                                                                    
of  adequate  subsidies.  For example,  if  the  legislature                                                                    
established  the wage  at $18.00/hour  but  did not  provide                                                                    
subsidies,  the  option  forced   parents  to  make  up  the                                                                    
difference. He  pointed out that  childcare was  already too                                                                    
expensive  for  many  parents. He  emphasized  that  as  the                                                                    
legislature looked  to strengthen  the sector, it  needed to                                                                    
be sensitive to not raising prices on parents.                                                                                  
Representative  Fields   discussed  the  fourth   option  to                                                                    
establish prevailing wage policy  covering all providers who                                                                    
receive public  funding. He  stated it  was similar  to what                                                                    
the  state did  with construction.  He explained  that those                                                                    
receiving construction  dollars through the State  of Alaska                                                                    
were subject  to the Davis-Bacon prevailing  wage law, which                                                                    
was currently over  $60/hour. He explained it  could be done                                                                    
with  the childcare  industry.  He  elaborated that  decades                                                                    
back the state  had made a choice with  construction and had                                                                    
determined  it would  be a  middle class  job where  workers                                                                    
received   a   living   wage   and   benefits   for   public                                                                    
construction.  He  believed  the  challenge  with  mandating                                                                    
prevailing  wages in  childcare was  that he  did not  think                                                                    
there was  currently enough  public investment  in childcare                                                                    
for a prevailing  wage model to work. He  explained that the                                                                    
prevailing wage  model worked for the  construction industry                                                                    
because  about $1  billion  per year  was  put into  federal                                                                    
public   construction   and   more  was   put   into   state                                                                    
construction. He was  not confident the model  would work if                                                                    
the  critical  mass  of  investment was  not  put  into  the                                                                    
childcare sector.                                                                                                               
9:09:22 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Fields  addressed an illustration on  slide 6                                                                    
titled  "Coercion and  Expense Tradeoffs."  The illustration                                                                    
included  the  four  options considered  by  the  Labor  and                                                                    
Commerce Committee.  He pointed  out that the  most coercive                                                                    
option  was  to  mandate  a   minimum  or  living  wage  for                                                                    
childcare providers. He stated that  a prevailing wage was a                                                                    
little less coercive. The least  coercive option was to pump                                                                    
money into the sector. He  would be supportive of the option                                                                    
but  did not  believe  the political  bandwidth existed.  He                                                                    
relayed that  the sectoral  bargaining model  in HB  149 was                                                                    
the  least coercive  and least  expensive. He  recognized it                                                                    
would not  fix all of  the problems in the  childcare sector                                                                    
overnight. He believed it would  empower the sector to start                                                                    
fixing  some  of  the  problems by  getting  at  their  root                                                                    
Representative  Fields reviewed  the  goals of  the bill  on                                                                    
slide 7.  The goal was  to raise wages/benefits,  so workers                                                                    
have  a living  wage, more  workers enter  the industry  and                                                                    
fewer  leave,   thus  increasing   the  supply   of  quality                                                                    
childcare available to everyone  in the marketplace. The key                                                                    
was to empower  the sector to drive the effort,  in order to                                                                    
prevent raising prices to an  unaffordable level for parents                                                                    
and   to  ensure   economics  that   worked  for   childcare                                                                    
providers.  He explained  that  all  providers' profits  had                                                                    
been  strapped. He  spoke to  the  importance of  supporting                                                                    
childcare  providers  and  avoiding   putting  them  out  of                                                                    
business.  He  stated  that  the last  two  years  had  been                                                                    
incredibly  hard  for  the sector  and  every  provider.  He                                                                    
believed it  was important for the  legislature to recognize                                                                    
that circumstances and economics  would change for providers                                                                    
and families.                                                                                                                   
9:11:44 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Fields  continued  to address  slide  7.  He                                                                    
believed the  policy structure should be  flexible enough to                                                                    
let the industry adapt to  changing circumstances. He stated                                                                    
that  if  the  industry  received  another  federal  funding                                                                    
infusion like  it received through American  Rescue Plan Act                                                                    
(ARPA),  the  legislature  should empower  the  industry  to                                                                    
invest the funding in the most sensible way.                                                                                    
Representative   Wool   referenced  Representative   Fields'                                                                    
statement  that he  did not  want  to raise  prices to  make                                                                    
childcare   unaffordable.    He   asked   if    that   meant                                                                    
Representative  Fields  was  willing  to raise  the  cost  a                                                                    
little. He  thought childcare  was already  unaffordable. He                                                                    
stated that many parents opted  not to put their children in                                                                    
childcare because it did not  pay. He heard from parents who                                                                    
would  rather stay  home  than breakeven  and  work all  day                                                                    
while  someone  else raised  their  kids.  He asked  how  to                                                                    
combat the issue.                                                                                                               
Representative    Fields   agreed    that   childcare    was                                                                    
unaffordable for  many families. He highlighted  what people                                                                    
paid for the  care they receive and  explained that families                                                                    
who  were lucky  with high  paying  jobs were  able to  send                                                                    
their  kids to  high  quality childcare  centers. He  shared                                                                    
that he  and his wife  paid well  over $2,000 per  month for                                                                    
their  two children,  which was  larger  than most  people's                                                                    
mortgage. He  stated it  was so expensive,  it did  not make                                                                    
sense to  go to work to  pay for childcare in  many jobs. He                                                                    
emphasized  it  was  terrible for  the  economy  because  it                                                                    
deterred people  from entering  the workforce.  He explained                                                                    
that  the   bill's  structure   provided  a   framework  for                                                                    
childcare providers to negotiate  with the state to allocate                                                                    
scarce  resources. For  example,  if the  bill  had been  in                                                                    
place  when  the  state  received $2  million  per  year  in                                                                    
additional  ARPA funding,  childcare  providers (owners  and                                                                    
workers)  would  have directly  been  at  the table  at  the                                                                    
Childcare  Program Office  to allocate  the  $2 million  per                                                                    
year.  He suspected  they  would not  have  wanted to  raise                                                                    
prices on  parents one penny  because parents  were strapped                                                                    
during the pandemic as well.                                                                                                    
Representative Fields did not  want to micromanage decisions                                                                    
on  resource  allocation.  He believed  childcare  providers                                                                    
should drive  the decisions. Currently,  the issue  was left                                                                    
up to the Childcare Program  Office within the Department of                                                                    
Health and  Social Services (DHSS).  He elaborated  that the                                                                    
office had  been unstaffed for  months and had  finally been                                                                    
filled.  He  stated  that   long-term  DHSS  employees  were                                                                    
incredibly  devoted   to  their  jobs,  but   there  was  no                                                                    
substitute  for having  industry  at the  table to  allocate                                                                    
scarce resources in a challenging sector.                                                                                       
9:14:08 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Fields   emphasized  that  the   best  state                                                                    
employee  would not  have the  granularity  of detail  about                                                                    
what was taking  place at the sector level if  they were not                                                                    
talking with  providers. He stressed  that providers  had to                                                                    
be driving the investments. He  stated it was the premise of                                                                    
the bill: the bill did  not micromanage how investments were                                                                    
Representative LeBon  looked at  the first bullet  under key                                                                    
goals  on  slide 7:  raise  wages/benefits  so workers  have                                                                    
living  wage.  He  believed legislators  could  all  support                                                                    
everyone having a living wage.  He remarked that the current                                                                    
pressure  on daycare  operators  was that  paying workers  a                                                                    
higher salary or  benefits meant the need  to increase rates                                                                    
charged. He asked  if the state had a program  to help lower                                                                    
income  families  receive a  subsidy  on  their payment  for                                                                    
daycare services. He  asked how the program  would work with                                                                    
an  increase  in  wages/benefits.  He  asked  if  the  added                                                                    
expense could be passed to the state through a subsidy.                                                                         
Representative Fields  confirmed that  the state did  have a                                                                    
subsidy program  for lower  income parents,  but it  did not                                                                    
cover  the  cost  of  care.   For  example,  his  children's                                                                    
childcare  center  had  subsidized slots,  but  because  the                                                                    
subsidies  did not  provide  the full  cost  of care,  other                                                                    
parents  (himself included)  subsidized  other  kids at  the                                                                    
school.  He added  there was  also an  inadequate number  of                                                                    
slots. He explained  that the bill did not  mandate a living                                                                    
wage or an  increased number of slots. He  explained that if                                                                    
the  state  received  $2  million  more  per  year  in  ARPA                                                                    
funding, the  bill would create a  structure where childcare                                                                    
providers would decide  how much of the funding  would go to                                                                    
higher wages/benefits  for workers, how much  would increase                                                                    
the  dollars per  slot (to  more closely  match the  cost to                                                                    
provide care), and  how many dollars went  to increasing the                                                                    
number of slots. He believed  providers would want to do all                                                                    
of those  things. Providers would  determine how  to balance                                                                    
multiple   meritorious   investments.    He   believed   the                                                                    
legislature  needed to  provide the  right structure  and it                                                                    
would  be hard  as legislators  to determine  wage and  slot                                                                    
increases  when they  did not  have a  detailed view  of the                                                                    
9:16:30 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  LeBon provided  a scenario  where he  was an                                                                    
operator of  a daycare  center who now  needed to  provide a                                                                    
higher wage and  improved benefits. He noted  that the state                                                                    
formula  would  not  help cover  the  expense  as  currently                                                                    
written. He considered that perhaps  it should be looked at.                                                                    
He  wondered if  there would  be a  risk of  putting daycare                                                                    
centers out of business if  their profit margin was squeezed                                                                    
and  added  costs  could  not  be passed  to  the  state  or                                                                    
families. He  noted that some  families paid 100  percent of                                                                    
the cost  and lower income  families received a  subsidy for                                                                    
some portion  of the cost.  He did  not know what  the split                                                                    
was.  He wondered  if it  was  50/50. He  surmised the  free                                                                    
market system would say the  operator was being squeezed and                                                                    
they may not be able to recover the added cost.                                                                                 
Representative  Fields  agreed.  He  explained  it  was  the                                                                    
reason the  bill did  not mandate a  living wage  or minimum                                                                    
wage in the  sector because he believed there was  a risk it                                                                    
may  make it  uneconomic  for some  providers. He  clarified                                                                    
that all the bill did  was provide a framework for childcare                                                                    
providers to work with the state  to figure out how to raise                                                                    
wages  and allocate  scarce resources.  He  did not  believe                                                                    
enough was  known to be able  to set a minimum  wage without                                                                    
potentially   having   unintended    negative   impacts   on                                                                    
Representative  Wool  referred   to  Representative  Fields'                                                                    
statement   that   he   had    two   children   in   daycare                                                                    
simultaneously. He shared that his  children had not been in                                                                    
daycare  at   the  same  time.   He  recalled   waiting  for                                                                    
kindergarten to start so he would  no longer have to pay for                                                                    
daycare. He stated that at  the time kindergarten had been a                                                                    
half day,  but it  was currently a  full day.  He referenced                                                                    
discussions about funding statewide  Pre-K, which he assumed                                                                    
had a  large price tag. He  asked if there was  some way the                                                                    
funding could  go towards helping  daycare programs  be more                                                                    
robust and cost-effective as opposed  to a "full blown" Pre-                                                                    
K, which he understood  required numerous certified teachers                                                                    
and education specialists.                                                                                                      
9:19:55 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Fields   believed  any  increase   in  Pre-K                                                                    
funding  in the  range of  numbers discussed  was augmenting                                                                    
care  and not  replacing the  private preschools.  He stated                                                                    
that because  the need was  large, there  was not a  risk of                                                                    
having  too much  Pre-K. Only  some  of the  need was  being                                                                    
Representative  Josephson asked  for  verification the  plan                                                                    
under the legislation  was to allow the  childcare sector to                                                                    
negotiate under the Public Employees Relation Act (PERA).                                                                       
Representative Fields characterized  the situation as fairly                                                                    
arcane  in terms  of  labor relations.  He  stated that  the                                                                    
National  Labor  Relations  Act (NLRA)  was  passed  in  the                                                                    
1930s. He  described Congress at the  time as a body  with a                                                                    
northern   liberal,   southern   Dixiecrat   coalition   and                                                                    
explained that  in order to establish  collective bargaining                                                                    
rights, the  Dixiecrats demanded exclusion of  domestic work                                                                    
and farm work because it  was primarily done by Black people                                                                    
(a  reality  of racism  at  the  time). He  elaborated  that                                                                    
because of  the law, state  legislatures had the  ability to                                                                    
manage  labor relations  in those  two areas:  domestic work                                                                    
and  farm   work.  Therefore,  the  state   was  allowed  to                                                                    
establish  a sectoral  bargaining structure  in the  area of                                                                    
childcare  rather  than  the  traditional  employee/employer                                                                    
bargaining  structure   used  for   all  other   fields.  He                                                                    
explained  that Alaska  would be  preempted  by federal  law                                                                    
from doing the same  for healthcare or construction, sectors                                                                    
that  were clearly  regulated under  the  NLRA. He  detailed                                                                    
that  because the  NLRA excluded  domestic work,  the Alaska                                                                    
Legislature  had  a  lot  of   flexibility  to  establish  a                                                                    
sectoral bargaining model,  which had been done  by 11 other                                                                    
Representative  Fields  explained   that  under  a  sectoral                                                                    
bargaining model,  childcare employees  would not  be public                                                                    
employees; however, there had to  be a way for the employees                                                                    
to bargain.  He explained  that in working  with Legislative                                                                    
Legal  Services,  the way  to  establish  a bargaining  path                                                                    
would be  for the  Alaska Labor  Relations Agency  (ALRA) to                                                                    
manage  an  election  where  all  providers  (employees  and                                                                    
employers)  would  vote on  whether  to  engage in  sectoral                                                                    
bargaining. He  noted the vote  would be conducted  by ALRA.                                                                    
He elaborated  that if a  majority of participants  voted in                                                                    
favor, there  would be a  sectoral bargaining  framework. He                                                                    
furthered  that the  childcare sector  would negotiate,  not                                                                    
employee  versus  employer, but  by  sector  with the  state                                                                    
childcare  program office.  He explained  it was  the method                                                                    
allocation decisions would be made in regard to resources.                                                                      
Representative Fields  clarified that if  desired, childcare                                                                    
providers could  also negotiate for things  like benefits or                                                                    
a  minimum  wage  in  the  sector  that  may  be  linked  to                                                                    
training.  He stressed  that the  bill did  not mandate  the                                                                    
sector  to bargain  on any  specific thing.  He stated  that                                                                    
sectoral bargaining  may not be  familiar to many  people in                                                                    
the U.S.; however,  it was the way most  bargaining was done                                                                    
in many  northern European countries. He  explained that the                                                                    
industry  drove  the  issues  addressed  at  the  bargaining                                                                    
table.  He  listed  potential   priorities  such  as  wages,                                                                    
safety, benefits,  the linkage  between wages  and training.                                                                    
He emphasized that the bill  did not micromanage the issues.                                                                    
He  stated that  childcare providers  would be  sensitive to                                                                    
their  needs  every  year.  He  believed  the  state  should                                                                    
establish a  structure that allowed  the sector to  make the                                                                    
9:23:51 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Josephson asked  for  verification that  the                                                                    
ALRA would act as the umpire.                                                                                                   
Representative Fields  replied that  ALRA would  conduct the                                                                    
election to determine if the sector "wants to do this."                                                                         
Representative  Johnson referenced  the statistics  provided                                                                    
on Norway  and asked why Representative  Fields had selected                                                                    
the particular country.                                                                                                         
Representative Fields  answered that Norway was  at the high                                                                    
end of  investment per  year; the country  had been  used to                                                                    
show a range.                                                                                                                   
Representative  Johnson   highlighted  that  Norway   had  a                                                                    
population  of  about  5.5 million,  $1.3  trillion  in  its                                                                    
sovereign  wealth  fund, a  budget  of  $18 billion,  and  a                                                                    
birthrate  of 11  children per  1,000  people. She  remarked                                                                    
that  the  country  had  more money  than  Alaska.  She  was                                                                    
interested in an apples-to-apples comparison.                                                                                   
Representative Fields  answered that it was  a challenge. He                                                                    
fully  acknowledged   the  state  would  not   be  investing                                                                    
thousands of dollars per child  per year in childcare in the                                                                    
coming year.  He contemplated how  to establish  a structure                                                                    
where providers were  empowered to have a  little more voice                                                                    
in allocating scarce resources.                                                                                                 
Representative  Johnson   remarked  there  were   11  states                                                                    
unionized. She asked about Illinois' retention.                                                                                 
Representative  Fields answered  that  the  House Labor  and                                                                    
Commerce Committee had heard from  providers in the State of                                                                    
Washington  who had  utilized the  model. The  providers had                                                                    
described the  positive impact that  had occurred  over time                                                                    
within the sector. He relayed  that testimony from providers                                                                    
in Illinois had not yet been heard.                                                                                             
Representative  Johnson  asked  why government  was  getting                                                                    
involved. She  thought it was  typically a  grassroots issue                                                                    
organized by unions or workers.                                                                                                 
Representative Fields answered that  California was the most                                                                    
recent state to engage  in sectoral bargaining. He explained                                                                    
it had taken  ten years of working with  providers and state                                                                    
policymakers  and educating  people.  He  recognized it  was                                                                    
complicated  policy. He  shared that  employers and  parents                                                                    
were vocalizing there was a  real problem [in Alaska] and he                                                                    
did not  see solutions on  the table; therefore, he  had put                                                                    
forward a potential solution. He  noted he had been clear in                                                                    
the House Labor  and Commerce Committee that  if someone had                                                                    
a better idea,  it should be pursued. He had  not yet seen a                                                                    
better  idea.  He  stated that  perhaps  the  House  Finance                                                                    
Committee would have one.                                                                                                       
9:27:06 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Johnson asked, "A better idea for what?"                                                                         
Representative Fields replied, "For  how to address the very                                                                    
pressing needs that we have in the childcare sector."                                                                           
Representative Johnson asked what the needs were.                                                                               
Representative  Fields  replied the  needs  were  a lack  of                                                                    
adequate  childcare  supply  and  affordable  childcare  for                                                                    
Representative Johnson asked for  the percentage of unfilled                                                                    
Representative Fields replied that  it was difficult to say.                                                                    
He had  heard many  anecdotal stories  from parents  who had                                                                    
been forced  to stay out  of the workforce. He  had received                                                                    
visitors   from  business   organizations  identifying   the                                                                    
problem  as one  of their  top issues.  He did  know if  the                                                                    
number of parents  who had been unable to get  care would be                                                                    
Representative Wool asked if  there were childcare providers                                                                    
who supported  the legislation. He  asked if  providers were                                                                    
concerned   that  if   employees   organized,  wages   would                                                                    
increase, and facilities would have to charge more.                                                                             
9:28:20 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Fields  responded that  he had  heard support                                                                    
from some childcare providers and  questions from others. He                                                                    
clarified that the bill used  an opt-in model, also called a                                                                    
right  to  work  model.  He explained  that  if  the  sector                                                                    
decided  to  bargain  sectorally,  no  individual  childcare                                                                    
provider  was required  to participate.  He did  not believe                                                                    
there would  be support from  providers if it  was coercive.                                                                    
He had heard some support  for the model. He highlighted the                                                                    
diversity  of   the  sector  with  hundreds   of  providers,                                                                    
including home-based  providers. One  of his goals  had been                                                                    
to meet  with and talk to  as many of them  as possible. One                                                                    
thing that was very clear  from providers was the desire for                                                                    
more of  a voice. He  stated it was  the number one  goal of                                                                    
the bill.                                                                                                                       
Co-Chair Merrick noted there would be invited testimony.                                                                        
Representative Wool  stated his understanding that  the bill                                                                    
would enable  workers and  childcare facilities  to organize                                                                    
to  perhaps improve  wages  and  working conditions  without                                                                    
raising the  rates on  parents. He surmised  it would  be an                                                                    
organized  way   to  get  more  ARPA   funds  or  government                                                                    
subsidies to fill the gap.                                                                                                      
Representative  Fields  agreed.  He  referenced  a  previous                                                                    
question  by Representative  Johnson and  relayed there  had                                                                    
been  a  recent survey  showing  77  percent of  parents  in                                                                    
Alaska reported missing work due  to childcare issues in the                                                                    
past three  months. He  noted it  was a  survey and  did not                                                                    
include  every  Alaskan.  The survey  also  showed  that  36                                                                    
percent  of  parents postponed  school  or  training due  to                                                                    
childcare  issues, 7  percent  had  to leave  a  job due  to                                                                    
inadequate childcare, and 26 percent  of parents had to lean                                                                    
on family members due to a lack of formal childcare.                                                                            
Co-Chair Merrick asked for the survey source.                                                                                   
Representative Fields answered that  the survey was a Center                                                                    
for American  Progress report titled "Untapped  potential in                                                                    
TRISTAN   WALSH,   STAFF,    REPRESENTATIVE   ZACH   FIELDS,                                                                    
elaborated  that  the  report   was  included  in  committee                                                                    
members'  bill packets  and  was from  the  U.S. Chamber  of                                                                    
Commerce  Foundation on  untapped  potential  in Alaska.  He                                                                    
relayed that the report had  been published in part with the                                                                    
Alaska Chamber of Commerce.                                                                                                     
Representative   Fields   appreciated  the   engagement   by                                                                    
committee  members. He  noted that  in California,  the most                                                                    
recent  state  to implement  the  model,  the providers  had                                                                    
worked   with  the   state  to   negotiate   a  15   percent                                                                    
reimbursement  rate  increase.  He  reiterated  his  earlier                                                                    
testimony  that the  bill was  merely a  framework and  real                                                                    
progress  would happen  over time  as  the sector  bargained                                                                    
with  the   state.  He   highlighted  that   California  had                                                                    
immediately made some measurable progress.                                                                                      
9:31:53 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Carpenter  appreciated  the  opportunity  to                                                                    
have  a policy  conversation. He  asked what  constitutional                                                                    
authority the bill drew upon.                                                                                                   
Representative  Fields  answered  that because  the  federal                                                                    
government had  not preempted  states in  the area  of labor                                                                    
relations with  respect to domestic workers,  which included                                                                    
childcare, the  state had the  ability to set  labor policy.                                                                    
He  clarified  that  the  state's  purview  was  limited  to                                                                    
domestic workers  and farmworkers  under the  National Labor                                                                    
Relations Act [passed  in 1935]. He cited Article  10 of the                                                                    
constitution  specifying that  matters  not  managed by  the                                                                    
federal government were left to the states.                                                                                     
Representative   Carpenter  clarified   that  his   question                                                                    
pertained  to  the  Alaska  Constitution,  not  the  federal                                                                    
Representative Fields asked for  clarity on the question. He                                                                    
wondered  if  Representative  Carpenter  thought  the  state                                                                    
constitution did not authorize  the legislature to deal with                                                                    
childcare policy.                                                                                                               
Representative  Carpenter highlighted  that the  legislation                                                                    
focused on making  a policy call and setting  it in statute.                                                                    
He  asked which  portion of  the state  constitution allowed                                                                    
the state  to create law  that would impact so  many sectors                                                                    
of the economy. He wondered if  the bill drew on the general                                                                    
welfare clause  allowing the state  to do what it  wanted if                                                                    
there were enough votes. He  used an example where the state                                                                    
had to have  an education system because it  was mandated by                                                                    
the  constitution.  He  asked  how  the  bill's  action  was                                                                    
authorized under the state constitution.                                                                                        
Representative  Fields viewed  the bill  as simply  enabling                                                                    
commerce   and  full   participation  by   parents  in   the                                                                    
workforce.  He   had  not   looked  at   the  constitutional                                                                    
foundation for legislators to address  the issue in statute.                                                                    
He would take a look.  He believed the state's engagement in                                                                    
childcare  was   long  established  through   the  Childcare                                                                    
Program Office. The question was how to best do it.                                                                             
9:35:04 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Carpenter remarked it  was a policy call that                                                                    
would  potentially bring  a subsidy  to the  industry, which                                                                    
would promote childcare as a  means to raise kids. He stated                                                                    
it was  a long-term  cultural impact  across the  sector. He                                                                    
asked  if  the bill  was  promoting  value in  other  people                                                                    
raising  someone's children  as  opposed  to people  raising                                                                    
their own children by subsidizing one over the other.                                                                           
Representative Fields  believed every parent should  be able                                                                    
to  make  the choice  about  the  best  way to  raise  their                                                                    
children  vis--vis   how many  parents  work  for wages  and                                                                    
whether one or  more parents was able to stay  home and take                                                                    
care of their kids. He pointed  out there were not many jobs                                                                    
that could support a family  where one person could work and                                                                    
the  other  could remain  home  to  care  for the  kids.  He                                                                    
highlighted the  need for childcare  for parents to  be able                                                                    
to support their  family. He was not trying  to dictate that                                                                    
childcare  was  better than  parents  staying  home, but  he                                                                    
thought parents should be able to make the choice.                                                                              
Representative Carpenter  suggested what if a  solution also                                                                    
included a subsidy for parents  to stay home and raise their                                                                    
kids. He remarked  it would be a state  policy placing value                                                                    
on  parents  staying  home and  raising  their  children  as                                                                    
opposed   to  a   policy   promoting   parents  giving   the                                                                    
responsibility to someone else.                                                                                                 
9:37:32 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Fields believed  there was a lot  of value in                                                                    
that. He  remarked there had  been other  policy discussions                                                                    
about people  who stay  home to take  care of  their elderly                                                                    
relatives. He noted that many states did so.                                                                                    
Representative Josephson  referenced a  legal case  that had                                                                    
stuck with  him when  he had  taught constitutional  law for                                                                    
five  years.   The  case  was  called   Laughlin  Steel.  He                                                                    
elaborated  that around  1937  the U.S.  Supreme Court  held                                                                    
that  the right  to  organize was  a  fundamental right.  He                                                                    
detailed the decision applied to  the private sector's right                                                                    
to organize and  was an interpretation of Wagner  Act or the                                                                    
Fair  Labor  Standards  Act. The  other  thing  to  consider                                                                    
relative  to   Representative  Carpenter's  point   was  the                                                                    
freedom of  association, which  was a part  of the  right to                                                                    
Representative  Edgmon stated  that Alaska's  population was                                                                    
aging,  and  the fastest  growing  segment  was seniors.  He                                                                    
remarked there were more people  choosing to leave the state                                                                    
for the  past nine  to ten years  consecutively. He  noted a                                                                    
few of the years there had  been people moving back into the                                                                    
state, providing  a net gain  in population. He  asked about                                                                    
the sector population the bill may affect.                                                                                      
Representative Fields  answered that the  demographic trends                                                                    
in the  state were  one of his  motivations. There  had been                                                                    
significant net  outmigration among  people of  working age.                                                                    
He noted the state had an  aging population on the one hand;                                                                    
however,  he  had  heard in  the  Tribal  Affairs  Committee                                                                    
earlier  in  the  day  that  the  median  age  in  the  AVCP                                                                    
[Association  of Village  Council Presidents]  region [Yukon                                                                    
Kuskokwim  Delta] was  25. He  highlighted that  the state's                                                                    
population was becoming  younger on one end  of the spectrum                                                                    
and  older on  the other.  The  state was  losing people  of                                                                    
working age, which was problematic.  There were fewer people                                                                    
earning  and able  to  support their  families.  One of  the                                                                    
goals  of the  bill  was  to ensure  it  was affordable  for                                                                    
working  aged people  to stay  in Alaska,  afford childcare,                                                                    
participate in the workforce, and  ensure a good environment                                                                    
to take  care of aging  relatives. He believed there  was an                                                                    
economic  imperative  to  make  sure it  was  practical  for                                                                    
families to  raise their  kids and to  care for  parents who                                                                    
may  be  aging.   He  stated  it  was  a   good  thing  when                                                                    
multigenerational  families  were  retained  in  Alaska.  In                                                                    
contrast, he  believed when it  was only affordable  to take                                                                    
care of  multigenerational families  outside of  Alaska, the                                                                    
loss of population and economic activity was a bad thing.                                                                       
9:40:52 AM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Ortiz thanked  Representative Fields for bringing                                                                    
the bill  forward. He appreciated  the hearty  discussion on                                                                    
such  a complex  issue.  He found  it  fascinating to  think                                                                    
about  the intersection  of economic  and social  forces and                                                                    
change  that had  taken place  over  the past  30 years.  He                                                                    
stated  the bill  aimed to  address a  real issue.  He heard                                                                    
anecdotally all of the time  in his community about the need                                                                    
for  more   childcare  options   for  parents.   He  thought                                                                    
Representative  Carpenter  brought  up a  good  point  about                                                                    
whether the  bill communicated the state  was putting higher                                                                    
value on parents'  ability to have their  children raised by                                                                    
childcare  providers.   He  stated  it  was   a  pretty  big                                                                    
question.  He  stated his  heart  said  it  was not  a  good                                                                    
direction  to  go.  He  thought  it was  a  great  bill  for                                                                    
discussion. He  stated that ignoring  the problem  would not                                                                    
help. He lauded the sponsor for bringing the bill forward.                                                                      
Representative  Fields answered  that he  thought Vice-Chair                                                                    
Ortiz's point about  parents being able to  provide care was                                                                    
important.  In his  ideal world,  people  would have  enough                                                                    
access to jobs that every  family could have one parent work                                                                    
outside the home and one parent  provide care in the home if                                                                    
they  chose.  His office  could  follow  up  to see  if  the                                                                    
Childcare Program  Office had ever  looked at the  issue and                                                                    
whether  subsidies  could  be extended  to  parents  raising                                                                    
their  children  at  home thereby  foregoing  wages  in  the                                                                    
private market. He  thought it would be  a balanced approach                                                                    
and he did not know how much it had been considered.                                                                            
9:43:21 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Merrick moved to invited testimony.                                                                                    
CANDICE RICHEY, HOME CHILD CARE  PROVIDER, CANDI'S TOT STOP,                                                                    
FAIRBANKS  (via  teleconference), shared  information  about                                                                    
her  business. She  stated  childcare  providers were  often                                                                    
asked what  they needed; however,  they were not  heard when                                                                    
they provided their opinions. She  shared that providers had                                                                    
struggled  for a  long  time  to get  what  they needed  and                                                                    
really  needed support.  She believed  HB 149  would provide                                                                    
support. She  had been  in awe when  hearing about  the bill                                                                    
because it included topics that  had been a concern for many                                                                    
years within  the industry. She  stated that the  bill would                                                                    
give providers  a voice and  included topics such  as wages,                                                                    
health insurance, leave, and  retirement. She worked between                                                                    
12 and  16 hours per day  and the wages she  earned were not                                                                    
enough to  maintain a  living and care  for her  family. She                                                                    
noted the same applied to hiring staff to fill positions.                                                                       
Ms.  Richey highlighted  the high  rate of  turnover in  the                                                                    
industry  because   providers  could   not  afford   to  pay                                                                    
employees  as much  as other  jobs. Finding  qualified staff                                                                    
was difficult  and it was  hard to retain  employees because                                                                    
they could  not offer benefits provided  by other employers.                                                                    
She referenced  money childcare providers  had to  invest in                                                                    
employees for  training and background checks.  She remarked                                                                    
that  state funds  had been  invested in  the sector,  which                                                                    
showed how  powerless the industry  was when it came  to how                                                                    
the funds were  used. She shared that benefits  were off the                                                                    
table  for her  business due  to high  premiums. She  stated                                                                    
that creating a retirement  for herself had been impossible.                                                                    
She had other  bills that were of  more immediate importance                                                                    
such as  paying to  put food  on the  table and  keeping her                                                                    
business open.                                                                                                                  
Ms. Richey  highlighted the high  cost of living  in Alaska.                                                                    
She relayed the bill would  support her career field in many                                                                    
aspects and would  give providers a voice  in the industry's                                                                    
future. She added that providers  would be able to determine                                                                    
where  funds were  most needed.  She emphasized  the support                                                                    
was needed more than ever  to ensure childcare in Alaska was                                                                    
sustainable,   affordable,   and  competitive   with   other                                                                    
9:47:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINA EUBANKS-OHANA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HILLCREST                                                                          
CHILDREN'S CENTER, ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), read                                                                         
from a prepared statement:                                                                                                      
     The  reality  of  poor  wages  and  benefits  for  this                                                                    
     workforce detrimentally  impacts the working  family. A                                                                    
     healthy  early learning  system requires  a variety  of                                                                    
     providers  both home  and center  based  that are  well                                                                    
     trained and  compensated and have  a voice in  the work                                                                    
     conditions. I  believe that House  Bill 149  before you                                                                    
     is  an avenue  to  address this  issue. Attracting  and                                                                    
     retaining  a quality  workforce  has  been a  continued                                                                    
     struggle  during the  18 years  I've  worked in  Alaska                                                                    
     providing childcare services.                                                                                              
     While the  state has changed regulations  that increase                                                                    
     the  cost of  care,  the reimbursement  rates have  not                                                                    
     kept pace. This is met  in increase in cost to families                                                                    
     and continued low  wages and little to  no benefits for                                                                    
     the  workers. The  foundation of  a high-quality  early                                                                    
     childhood   system  is   a   well-trained  and   fairly                                                                    
     compensated  workforce. Unfortunately,  Alaska's system                                                                    
     does not  provide for livable  wages to keep  a trained                                                                    
     Early childhood  educators are one  of the  lowest paid                                                                    
     professions in  the state. While the  cost of childcare                                                                    
     is  high, often  comparable  to a  monthly mortgage  or                                                                    
     rent payment,  the income does  not cover  overhead and                                                                    
     wages.  This  leads  to  high   rates  of  turnover  in                                                                    
     providers, which is alarming  because of consistency in                                                                    
     caregiving   during  a   child's  formative   years  is                                                                    
     essential to provide a secure  foundation for the child                                                                    
     to  grow  from.  This  financial  investment  in  early                                                                    
     childhood  saves  the  state  money  in  education  and                                                                    
     health  costs in  the long-term.  While this  bill does                                                                    
     not  fix  all of  the  issues  in early  childhood,  it                                                                    
     provides a policy solution that  allows a greater voice                                                                    
     for  staff, center  directors,  and  home providers  in                                                                    
     working with  the state  childcare program  office. The                                                                    
     industry should  have a voice in  decisions that impact                                                                    
     the cost of care.                                                                                                          
Ms.  Eubanks-Ohana continued  to testify  in support  of the                                                                    
legislation.  Childcare   providers  were  the   experts  at                                                                    
providing childcare in Alaska and  should be afforded a seat                                                                    
at the table.  She shared that the  Childcare Program Office                                                                    
received  the  primary amount  of  its  funding through  the                                                                    
Childcare and  Development block  grant. She  explained that                                                                    
the  way  the  office  had written  regulations  would  have                                                                    
incentivized  childcare  providers to  close.  Additionally,                                                                    
the office  had proposed regulation changes  that would have                                                                    
substantially increased  the cost of care.  Providers had to                                                                    
explain  the ramifications  to the  office.  The bill  would                                                                    
enable providers  to be at  the table from the  beginning to                                                                    
work together to come up with solutions.                                                                                        
Ms. Eubanks-Ohana  addressed an  earlier question  about the                                                                    
need  for   childcare.  She  shared  that   her  center  was                                                                    
currently filled  through May of  2023. She  elaborated that                                                                    
parents  often  called  when  they   were  pregnant  to  get                                                                    
guaranteed  spots. She  received one  to two  calls per  day                                                                    
from   families  currently   looking   for  childcare.   She                                                                    
emphasized  there were  not enough  spaces in  the state  to                                                                    
meet the current  need. She stated the  bill would hopefully                                                                    
enable the sector  to attract more providers.  She urged the                                                                    
committee's support for the bill.                                                                                               
9:51:36 AM                                                                                                                    
BLUE   SHIBLER,  SOUTHEAST   ALASKA   ASSOCIATION  FOR   THE                                                                    
EDUCATION   OF   YOUNG    CHILDREN   (AEYC),   JUNEAU   (via                                                                    
teleconference), currently served  as the executive director                                                                    
of AEYC. Previously she had  been a childcare business owner                                                                    
for  over 20  years.  She  had seen  firsthand  many of  the                                                                    
impacts discussed  in the  current meeting  such as  how low                                                                    
wages  in   the  industry  impacted  the   quality  of  care                                                                    
businesses could provide for families.  She pointed out that                                                                    
childcare providers were not trying  to raise other people's                                                                    
children. She clarified that  providers were partnering with                                                                    
working families  to help  children get  their developmental                                                                    
needs met in high quality environments.                                                                                         
Ms. Shibler reported that childcare  as a business model was                                                                    
in  market failure  and had  been for  quite some  time. She                                                                    
stated  that when  a  necessary  service (necessary  because                                                                    
families needed  to work and  put their  children somewhere)                                                                    
failed  to   correct  itself  in   a  free   market,  public                                                                    
intervention was often needed.  She highlighted that parents                                                                    
were paying  an average  of 10  to 20  percent of  income on                                                                    
childcare costs. She  stated that the revenue  still did not                                                                    
allow  programs  to pay  worthy  wages.  She explained  that                                                                    
because the  tuition income from  parents was  typically the                                                                    
sole source  of revenue  for childcare businesses,  they had                                                                    
no  means  to  compete  in the  tight  labor  market.  Other                                                                    
businesses  were  increasing  wages and  offering  benefits,                                                                    
while childcare  wages remained flat and  falling well below                                                                    
what was considered to be livable in the current economy.                                                                       
Ms. Shibler  believed building a  strong, quality  supply of                                                                    
affordable  childcare  was  critical  in  creating  economic                                                                    
recovery. The  effort needed to  start with  creating better                                                                    
workforce  conditions  for   providers.  She  stressed  that                                                                    
childcare  workers were  key stakeholders  in the  childcare                                                                    
industry and should be heard  from when the state was making                                                                    
decisions  on how  to invest  financial  resources in  their                                                                    
work. She  addressed questions from  members earlier  in the                                                                    
meeting.  She shared  that in  Juneau, as  of January  2022,                                                                    
there  were   221  children   on  waitlists   for  childcare                                                                    
programs.  She  stated  that  while  some  of  the  programs                                                                    
technically had  available slots,  they did not  have enough                                                                    
staff. She shared that programs  reported needing a total of                                                                    
16 to  20 more employees in  order to start taking  kids off                                                                    
their waitlists.                                                                                                                
9:55:40 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Merrick OPENED public testimony.                                                                                       
MIKE COONS,  SELF, PALMER (via teleconference),  [poor audio                                                                    
quality] asked how  much more it would cost  to have unions.                                                                    
He spoke against  the legislation. He did  not support using                                                                    
California is a model.                                                                                                          
Co-Chair Merrick CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                       
9:59:19 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Merrick  asked the department to  review the fiscal                                                                    
NICOLE  THIBODEAU,   HEARING  EXAMINER   AND  ADMINISTRATOR,                                                                    
ALASKA  LABOR  RELATIONS  AGENCY, DEPARTMENT  OF  LABOR  AND                                                                    
WORKFORCE  DEVELOPMENT  (via  teleconference),  shared  that                                                                    
Alaska  Labor  Relations   Agency  administered  the  Public                                                                    
Employment  Relations  Act.  The  agency's  mission  was  to                                                                    
promote   harmonious  and   cooperative  relations   between                                                                    
government and  its employees. The  mission was  carried out                                                                    
by  settling disputes  between public  employers and  unions                                                                    
and  by overseeing  representation  elections. She  detailed                                                                    
that  the  legislation would  create  a  bargaining unit  of                                                                    
childcare workers and under  the Public Employment Relations                                                                    
Act the  agency would  conduct a mail  ballot representation                                                                    
election   to    determine   the   unit    composition   and                                                                    
representatives. She explained the  election would be a one-                                                                    
time cost of  between $16,000 and $46,000  if every employee                                                                    
received a  vote. The cost range  reflected uncertainty with                                                                    
respect  to  the  bargaining  unit  size.  The  agency  used                                                                    
estimates of  numbers of workers, not  providers. She stated                                                                    
that THREAD's  2020 economic  impact report  estimated about                                                                    
6,500 direct  childcare providers in Alaska.  She elaborated                                                                    
that  the  Department  of Labor  and  Workforce  Development                                                                    
Research and Analysis  Unit estimated pre-pandemic childcare                                                                    
worker numbers to  be between 3,200 and  3,300. The agency's                                                                    
estimate of  the bargaining unit  size was based  on between                                                                    
3,200 and 6,500 workers or voters.                                                                                              
Ms.  Thibodeau reported  that after  reviewing the  agency's                                                                    
last seven  years of data,  on average the  agency conducted                                                                    
about two elections  per year and the average  unit size was                                                                    
about  19. The  agency  had a  staff of  three  with a  very                                                                    
streamlined budget; therefore, the  election would be a one-                                                                    
time  significant expense  and  effort for  the agency.  The                                                                    
fiscal  note included  a hearing  and  estimated that  labor                                                                    
would  include  a  temp or  contracting  out  assistance  to                                                                    
produce  ballots  in  the  neighborhood  of  $3,500,  ballot                                                                    
postage would cost between $3,800  to $7,800, ballot packets                                                                    
would  cost  between  $4,000  and  $7,000,  the  regulations                                                                    
project  would be  about $500,  legal fees  to the  attorney                                                                    
general office were  estimated at zero to  $10,000, the cost                                                                    
for  reprinting  a  pamphlet  would be  about  $900,  and  a                                                                    
hearing would  potentially cost  between $1,800  and $15,000                                                                    
for a total of between $16,000 and $46,000.                                                                                     
10:02:42 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative  Carpenter asked  if ALRA  managed any  other                                                                    
private sector collective bargaining elections.                                                                                 
Ms. Thibodeau answered in the  negative. She elaborated that                                                                    
ALRA only handled public sector collective bargaining.                                                                          
Representative Carpenter referenced  previous testimony from                                                                    
the  public. His  takeaway had  been the  need for  a strong                                                                    
economy with  more high  paying jobs  was necessary.  He had                                                                    
also heard that some amount  of state subsidy was necessary.                                                                    
He understood  the bill  did not include  a subsidy  and was                                                                    
limited to  offering the ability for  collective bargaining.                                                                    
He  provided  a  scenario  where   the  state  went  in  the                                                                    
direction of  the action  under the bill.  He asked  where a                                                                    
subsidy would  come from. He  assumed that  largely, daycare                                                                    
workers were  not paying corporate income  tax currently due                                                                    
to  their size.  He thought  the pool  of funds  the subsidy                                                                    
could  come  from would  be  some  amount of  the  corporate                                                                    
income  tax  collected  through   non-oil  or  oil  revenue,                                                                    
Permanent Fund earnings, or federal  subsidies. He asked the                                                                    
bill sponsor where the additional funding come from.                                                                            
Representative  Fields  answered  that the  ongoing  federal                                                                    
funding stream  was called  the Childcare  Development Block                                                                    
Grant,  which   had  been  recently  increased   by  federal                                                                    
legislation. He explained that when  the grant had increased                                                                    
it  had   heightened  the  need  to   empower  providers  to                                                                    
negotiate  and help  drive  investments.  Whether the  state                                                                    
also  wanted to  increase funding  to childcare  was a  good                                                                    
question, and beyond the bill's  contemplation of a sectoral                                                                    
bargaining structure.                                                                                                           
10:06:04 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative  Carpenter asked  for  clarification that  it                                                                    
would be  the sponsor's intention that  the likely follow-on                                                                    
subsidy  would come  from federal  funds at  least to  begin                                                                    
Representative  Fields   replied  in  the   affirmative.  He                                                                    
believed that  given there  were recently  increased federal                                                                    
funds, it was a good time  to consider whether the state had                                                                    
the best  structure for the industry  to have a seat  at the                                                                    
table  working  with the  state.  He  noted  it was  not  to                                                                    
preclude the  question about whether the  legislature should                                                                    
do more for childcare. He  believed there was a current need                                                                    
to empower the sector given the increased federal funds.                                                                        
HB  149  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
10:06:59 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
10:07:50 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Merrick reviewed the schedule for the following                                                                        
10:08:08 AM                                                                                                                   
The meeting was adjourned at 10:08 a.m.