Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 17
02/27/2006 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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HB 389-REGULATION OF TOURIST ACCOMMODATIONS [Contains discussion of HB 360] 4:29:48 PM REPRESENTATIVE KOTT announced that the final order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 389, "An Act relating to tourist accommodations permits and to penalties for failing to comply with permitting requirements; removing a requirement that persons operating tourist accommodations post certain laws and regulations on the premises; and providing for an effective date." KAREN LIDSTER, Staff to Representative John Coghill, Alaska State Legislature, characterized HB 389 as "housekeeping" since it repeals the sections of statute that are no longer used, along with the related areas. She explained that the Department of Environmental Conservation has jurisdiction over trailer camp and public facility health and safety issues. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if this was the department's response to a memo from [Representative Coghill] to all state agencies regarding any statutes that should be repealed. MS. LIDSTER said that it is and noted that the remaining regulations in AS 18.35 allow the department to maintain public health and safety. 4:33:08 PM KRISTIN RYAN, Director, Division of Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Conservation, informed the committee that the division is responsible for regulating public accommodations. She stated that HB 389 repeals statutory authority that has not been utilized since the 1960s. The division does not permit public accommodations, therefore the statutory authority is not necessary. The division currently does complaint investigations and has sanitation regulations in place, which, she noted, have been in place since 1982, and are in need of revision. This legislation, she said, is the beginning of that process. Once the statutory authority is "up- to-date", the division will approach setting appropriate sanitation standards. This legislation does not eliminate the division's ability to set these standards, and it will continue to do this in addition to investigating complaints. Ms. Ryan explained that the public health risks are low and the division staff is unable to do a more thorough investigation, adding that this is not needed. The current permit structure is not needed to adequately regulate these facilities. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referred to [HB 360] sponsored by Representative Kevin Meyer, and asked if HB 389 is related in any way. MS. RYAN explained that HB 360 requires the department to regulate small public water systems at any public accommodation. The division does not currently permit public accommodations. She explained that HB 389 would not change this, although HB 360 would require the division to regulate the drinking water. MS. RYAN, in response to a question from Representative Rokeberg, stated that HB 389 would delete the requirement for a sanitation permit. The division would still regulate the larger facilities for water, wastewater, and food inspections. Currently, the division is not regulating smaller businesses that serve less than 25 people. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked how the division is aware of the smaller businesses that serve only 25 people if they do not issue permits. MS. RYAN replied that the division frequently comes across facilities that fall under the regulatory requirements but are not, at which point the facility is notified of the requirements to which it needs to comply and is provided information on ways in which it can comply. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if this was part of the reason permitting was put in regulation. MS. RYAN replied that she does not know the reason this was originally put into statute and noted that usually a permit is for greater oversight over a particular industry, when it is necessary to maintain a minimum of yearly contact, including inspections. She opined that the permit structure was put in place because there was a need to have a sanitation standard, and a permit in place for public accommodations. 4:38:03 PM MS. RYAN, in response to questions from Representative Guttenberg, explained that the threshold for non-regulation varies depending on the area of regulation. She stated that for drinking water, the cutoff is 25 people; for food establishments it is 10 people; wastewater requires that a [water] system be installed by a certified engineer. She pointed out that HB 389 only applies to the sanitation permits. In response to further questions, she agreed that HB 389 is merely "clean-up", and the division will still be conducting investigations and setting sanitation standards. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG asked if the division would maintain the authority to investigate a small bed and breakfast in response to complaints about bugs, vermin, or brown drinking water. MS. RYAN replied that this is correct. 4:40:46 PM REPRESENTATIVE KOTT closed public testimony. 4:41:14 PM REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD moved to report HB 389 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, HB 389 was reported out of the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.