Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

02/11/2009 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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Heard & Held
Moved Out of Committee
HB 85-EXTEND BD ARCHITECTS/ENGINEERS/SURVEYORS                                                                                
3:18:21 PM                                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 85,  "An Act extending the termination  date of the                                                              
State Board  of Registration for  Architects, Engineers,  and Land                                                              
Surveyors; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
3:18:42 PM                                                                                                                    
KONRAD JACKSON,  Staff, Representative  Kurt  Olson and the  House                                                              
Labor  and  Commerce  Standing Committee,  explained  that  HB  85                                                              
would   extend  the   Board   of  Registration   for   Architects,                                                              
Engineers,  and  Land  Surveyors  (AELS)  for  eight  years.    He                                                              
related  that the  Legislative  Budget  & Audit  Committee  (LB&A)                                                              
recommended the  AELS board should  be extended from June  2009 to                                                              
June 30, 2017.                                                                                                                  
3:19:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH   asked  for  clarification   of  the  bill's                                                              
3:20:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  the  auditor to  explain the  three                                                              
recommendations   contained  in   the  legislative  audit,   Audit                                                              
Control Number 08-20058-08.                                                                                                     
3:20:47 PM                                                                                                                    
PAT  DAVIDSON,   Legislative  Auditor,  Division   of  Legislative                                                              
Audit,  Alaska  State  Legislature,   explained  to  members  that                                                              
various  boards and  commissions  throughout the  state are  under                                                              
sunset  laws, which  means the  boards  have specific  termination                                                              
dates  associated  with  them.    The  Division  of  Corporations,                                                              
Business,   and   Professional   Licensing  (DCBPL)   within   the                                                              
Department   of  Commerce,  Community,   &  Economic   Development                                                              
(DCCED) regulate  most of  the licensing  boards that  are subject                                                              
to   sunset  provisions.     She   further   explained  that   the                                                              
Legislative  Audit Division is  required under  law to  review the                                                              
board's  activities  and specific  criteria  to determine  if  the                                                              
board is  operated in  the public  interest.  As  a result  of its                                                              
audit, the  Legislative Budget &  Audit Committee  (LB&A) reviewed                                                              
and  approved  the  legislative  audit that  determined  the  AELS                                                              
Board  is  operating  in  the  public's   best  interest  and  its                                                              
termination  date  should  be  extended.    Based  on  the  LB&A's                                                              
review, the  DCBPL also recommended  the board should  be extended                                                              
for eight years, which is June 30, 2017.                                                                                        
3:21:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. DAVIDSON  detailed  that in  the course of  the audit  review,                                                              
auditors  identified  three areas  for  improvement.   First,  the                                                              
auditors found that  the AELS board had been  hampered by unfilled                                                              
vacancies.   The LB&A  recommended to the  Office of  the Governor                                                              
that  appointments  should  be  made  timely.    She  related  her                                                              
understanding  that  appointments  have been  made,  although  the                                                              
legislature has not yet confirmed the AELS board appointees.                                                                    
MS. DAVIDSON  explained that  the auditors  analyzed the  finances                                                              
of  the AELS  Board.    By law,  all  boards  are required  to  be                                                              
financially  self-sufficient, meaning  the fees collected  through                                                              
licensing actions  should cover the operating costs.   She offered                                                              
that the  auditors discovered  a surplus  generated over  the past                                                              
few years for the  AELS board.  The auditors  recommended that the                                                              
DCBPL  reduce the  AELS  fees and  the  DCCED  concurred with  the                                                              
MS. DAVIDSON  offered the  third audit  recommendation, which  was                                                              
for "a little  better housekeeping" as it refers  to obtaining the                                                              
required  paperwork when  issuing  licenses  to limited  liability                                                              
corporations  (LLC)  and  limited  liability  partnerships  (LLP).                                                              
She explained that  certain documents were missing  from applicant                                                              
files.   She  highlighted  that  the  problem was  not  considered                                                              
pervasive,  but the  problem needed  to be corrected.   The  DCCED                                                              
agreed to the changes, she stated.                                                                                              
3:23:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH inquired  as  to whether  reductions in  fees                                                              
have been identified.                                                                                                           
MS.  DAVIDSON  answered   that  the  AELS  board's   finances  are                                                              
reviewed  at the  end of  each alternate  fiscal year.   When  the                                                              
LB&A recommends  fees should be  reduced, the DCCED sets  the fees                                                              
in  consultation  with  the  board.     She  offered  that  a  few                                                              
professions  are licensed  by  the AELS  board,  and that  several                                                              
examinations  are  administered for  the  professions.   The  LB&A                                                              
does not  identify  which fees should  be reduced,  just that  the                                                              
DCCED  should make  an  assessment.   She  noted that  if a  large                                                              
regulatory project  is forthcoming or pending, the  department may                                                              
reduce   the  fees   less  than   if   overall  expenditures   are                                                              
anticipated to be static.                                                                                                       
3:34:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CRAIG  FREDEEN,  P.E.;  Vice-Chair,   Board  of  Registration  for                                                              
Architects,  Engineers and  Land Surveyors  (AELS), Department  of                                                              
Commerce,  Community, &  Economic Development  (DCCED), began  his                                                              
testimony  by  stating   that  he  works  for   PDC  Engineers  in                                                              
Anchorage  and  has served  on  the AELS  Board  since  2004.   He                                                              
explained  that the  AELS board  has been following  the issue  of                                                              
Canadian  licensure  very  closely,  including  meeting  with  the                                                              
professional  engineers  of  Canada,  who  are referred  to  as  a                                                              
"P.Eng".   He advised  that the  P.Eng's have given  presentations                                                              
to the AELS Board  and have attended regional  and annual meetings                                                              
of  the  National   Council  of  Examiners  for   Engineering  and                                                              
Surveying  (NCEES) for  many years.   The  interest has  increased                                                              
due to the proposed  gas pipeline, he stated.  He  related that he                                                              
is  a   registered  mechanical   engineer  and  cannot   speak  to                                                              
architects' and  landscape architects' involvement.   In May, some                                                              
board members  hope to attend  the upcoming Western  Zone meeting,                                                              
the  regional  meeting  of the  NCEES,  pending  travel  approval,                                                              
which  will be  held in  Banff, Canada.   He  emphasized that  the                                                              
Canadian engineers  are very interested  in obtaining  comity with                                                              
Alaska and other states.                                                                                                        
MR.   FREDEEN  explained   that  the   methodology  for   Canadian                                                              
licensure differs  from the United States (US).   He characterized                                                              
the  Canadian  process  as  more   of  a  journeyman  process  for                                                              
licensure,  while  the  US  relies on  four  years  of  education,                                                              
experience,   and   two   examinations,    the   Fundamentals   of                                                              
Engineering exam  (FE) and the Professional Engineering  exam (PE)                                                              
for licensure.   Thus,  the models  do not  mesh well,  he opined.                                                              
He  related that  the  AELS has  relaxed  its  licensure rules  to                                                              
allow Canadians to  waive the FE exam, which is the  exam taken as                                                              
a  college senior  or  right  out of  college.   The  process  for                                                              
licensure  includes that  engineering applications  must take  the                                                              
PE  examination  approximately  four  years  later.    He  further                                                              
related  that much  discussion needs  to take  place to  determine                                                              
solutions   for   the   PE   license    requirement   in   Alaska.                                                              
Additionally,  he expressed concern  that the  AELS board  has for                                                              
Alaskan engineers  seeking licensure in  Canada.  He  offered that                                                              
some  states such  as Nevada  and Texas  accept comity  licensure,                                                              
but Alaska is not yet ready to take that step.                                                                                  
3:46:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL related  his concern,  which is to  ensure                                                              
that discussions continue.   He said he hopes that  the AELS board                                                              
will share  any conclusions it reaches  with the legislature.   He                                                              
said the legislature  might ask why other states  can offer comity                                                              
licensure,   yet  Alaska   cannot.    He   highlighted  that   the                                                              
legislature  could  introduce a  bill  to  focus dialogue  on  the                                                              
reciprocity  issue.   He expressed  interest in  figuring out  how                                                              
Alaska's  qualifications   for  engineering   can  fit   into  the                                                              
journeyman  process   of  Canadian   licensure  so   that  Alaskan                                                              
engineers can work in Canada.                                                                                                   
CHAIR OLSON  asked if a trade  group was working on  the licensure                                                              
MR.  FREDEEN said  he  did  not believe  so.   He  mentioned  that                                                              
members  of  US licensure  boards  have  been in  discussion  with                                                              
representatives  of the Canadian  licensure  board.  He  explained                                                              
that the  AELS board chair,  Mr. Brownfield, has  attended several                                                              
meetings with respect to licensure.                                                                                             
3:47:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  opined that presents a classic  example of                                                              
why the  AELS board should  not be extended  to 2017  and possibly                                                              
the legislature  could "ratchet that  back" to force  a discussion                                                              
on comity.                                                                                                                      
3:48:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH  inquired  as  to  whether  the  professional                                                              
associations are international organizations.                                                                                   
MR. FREDEEN answered  yes, that the AELS board is  a member of the                                                              
NCEES  for  engineering,  the National  Council  of  Architectural                                                              
Registration  Boards (NCARB)  for architects,  and the Council  of                                                              
Landscape  Architects  (CLARB)   for  landscape  architects.    He                                                              
stated  that each  state's  licensing  board is  a  member of  the                                                              
national   organization.     He   explained   that  the   national                                                              
organizations  own  the  exams,  and  that  member  boards  attend                                                              
annual  and   regional  meetings   to  discuss   issues   such  as                                                              
international licensure.   He pointed out that  various agreements                                                              
between nations  exist to allow  licensed design  professionals to                                                              
work  in  the U.S.  and  other  countries.   He  highlighted  that                                                              
countries  such   as  the  United  Kingdom  (UK)   belong  to  the                                                              
Washington  Accord.  The  agreements sort  through issues  such as                                                              
dissecting  the degree  programs offered  by foreign  universities                                                              
to ensure that  the candidates have met the minimum  standards for                                                              
education  as well  as any  other requirements  for the  licensure                                                              
process.   He stated at the  international level "we're  not there                                                              
yet"  with  respect  to  international  licensure  for  engineers.                                                              
However,  the NCEES  is  offering  the licensure  examinations  in                                                              
foreign cities such  as Cairo, Egypt and is working  to offer more                                                              
locations   for  engineers   to   take  engineering   examinations                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH  inquired  as to  whether  any  collaboration                                                              
effort exists to meld licensure for reciprocity.                                                                                
MR. FREDEEN  explained that each  state makes its  own regulations                                                              
and statutes for  comity licensure.  While some  discussions occur                                                              
at the  national level to  ensure that licensing  requirements are                                                              
the  same,  differences  still   exist.    He  opined  that  other                                                              
countries still  need to work  out comity equivalency  from nation                                                              
to state  on a state-by-state basis.   In the  meantime, engineers                                                              
from other  countries must obtain  licensure by comity  by meeting                                                              
Alaska's requirements,  just as  engineers from other  states must                                                              
do so.  He  emphasized that restrictions on degrees  obtained from                                                              
other countries do  not exist.  Thus, every engineer  in the world                                                              
has  a  process  to  obtain  licensure   in  Alaska,  but  minimum                                                              
qualifications must  be met to ensure  public safety.   He related                                                              
his   understanding   that  a   "straight   across,   one-for-one"                                                              
licensure process does not exist.                                                                                               
3:52:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  opined that the  committee would like  reciprocity so                                                              
that  Alaskan engineers  can also  obtain licensure,  particularly                                                              
with Canadian licensure.  He offered the committee's assistance.                                                                
MR. FREDEEN  expressed concern that  currently when  Canada issues                                                              
a  license  to an  Alaskan  engineer  that  the license  name  for                                                              
foreign license  is different,  although he  could not  recall the                                                              
designation.   He mentioned that  the title for  foreign engineers                                                              
is  a foreign  P.Eng.   Mr.  Fredeen  highlighted  that the  P.Eng                                                              
title is reserved  solely for Canadian engineers,  while Canadians                                                              
registered in  Alaska are issued  the title professional  engineer                                                              
(P.E.) just without differentiating them from Alaskan P.E.'s.                                                                   
CHAIR OLSON  reiterated his  offer for  legislative assistance  to                                                              
the AELS board on reciprocity between the U.S. and Canada.                                                                      
3:55:05 PM                                                                                                                    
TERRY  SCHOENTHAL,  Member,  Alaska  Professional  Design  Council                                                              
(APDC), and the  American Society of Landscape  Architects (ASLA),                                                              
explained that the  state has licensed landscape  architects since                                                              
1998.   He  related  that currently  49  states license  landscape                                                              
architects.    Since  1998,  landscape   architects  have  held  a                                                              
temporary non-voting  position on  the AELS  Board.  He  explained                                                              
the rationale for  this is that not many landscape  architects are                                                              
licensed   in   Alaska   as   compared   to   the   other   design                                                              
professionals.   However, ten years  has passed and  the landscape                                                              
architect  member  is  still  a  non-voting  ex-officio  temporary                                                              
member.  He surmised  that this status may be the  only one of its                                                              
type  among all  the state's  licensing boards.   He  acknowledged                                                              
that  licensing of  landscape architects  will  continue when  the                                                              
temporary non-voting  landscape architect  membership on  the AELS                                                              
board  disappears on  June  30, 2009.    However, since  landscape                                                              
architects  will continue  to  be licensed,  members  representing                                                              
other professions  will make determinations on  qualifications for                                                              
licensure without input from a landscape architect.                                                                             
MR.  SCHOENTHAL,  expressed  concern  that  a  licensed  landscape                                                              
architect has  volunteered his/her time  on the AELS  board during                                                              
the past ten  years, which represents substantial  time and effort                                                              
taken  on  his/her  part.   Yet,  the  landscape  architect  board                                                              
member never had  the opportunity to vote on any  issues that came                                                              
before the  AELS Board.   He applauded  and commended  the service                                                              
of  the two  volunteer  landscape architects  who  have served  in                                                              
that  capacity  for  ten  years.     He  opined  that  it  may  be                                                              
beneficial  to the state  to have  a licensed landscape  architect                                                              
board   member  review   landscape   architect  applications   for                                                              
3:57:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SCHOENTHAL, in  response to  Representative Holmes,  answered                                                              
that  changing the  non-voting  temporary  member  to a  permanent                                                              
AELS member  would require a statute  change.  He offered  that in                                                              
2005, a  bill passed the legislature  that extended  the temporary                                                              
non-voting position until 2009.                                                                                                 
CHAIR  OLSON explained  that the  committee  used the  legislative                                                              
auditor's recommendations  when preparing HB 85.   He related that                                                              
four years ago  the legislative auditor recommended  the landscape                                                              
architect   for   membership  on   the   AELS  board,   but   that                                                              
recommendation was not made in current legislative audit report.                                                                
3:58:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SCHOENTHAL  provided  additional  history  of  the  landscape                                                              
architect that  in 2004 the  LB&A's audit report  recommended that                                                              
the  landscape  architect  should   be  a  voting  position.    He                                                              
highlighted that  in 2007, the  AELS board recommended  to convert                                                              
the  temporary  landscape  architect  position to  a  full  voting                                                              
position.   He mentioned that  the APDC, an umbrella  organization                                                              
of   design  professionals,   voted  to   support  the   landscape                                                              
architect position  as a full voting  member of the AELS  board at                                                              
its  January  meeting.    He  stressed   that  at  a  minimum  the                                                              
landscape architects  in Alaska would  like to see the  AELS board                                                              
maintain a non-voting  landscape architect position  on the board.                                                              
However, the  landscape architect  and other design  professionals                                                              
fully support  making the temporary  landscape architect  member a                                                              
full voting position of the AELS board.                                                                                         
3:59:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  expressed interest in the cost  or additional                                                              
resources required  to make the  non-voting landscape  architect a                                                              
permanent  member  of  the  AELS  Board.   He  related  that  some                                                              
committee  members   do  not  know   the  practical   aspects  and                                                              
structure of the licensing boards.                                                                                              
MR.  SCHOENTHAL answered  that the  AELS board  is entirely  self-                                                              
sufficient, in  that the professions  cover all its  costs through                                                              
biennial  licensure  fees.    He   further  explained  that  other                                                              
professionals  subsidize  the  landscape  architects  since  fewer                                                              
landscape  architects  are  licensed.   He  highlighted  that  the                                                              
state  does not  cover the  AELS  board's costs  or subsidize  the                                                              
board.   Thus,  the  request to  maintain  the existing  landscape                                                              
architect  board  member  on  the  AELS  board  would  not  entail                                                              
additional funding.                                                                                                             
4:01:40 PM                                                                                                                    
HARLEY  HIGHTOWER, Architect  Member,  Board  of Registration  for                                                              
Architects,  Engineers and  Land Surveyors  (AELS), Department  of                                                              
Commerce, Community,  & Economic Development (DCCED),  stated that                                                              
he is a licensed  architect who resides in Anchorage.   He said he                                                              
has served  on the  AELS Board for  four years.   He offered  that                                                              
the  architects   fall  under  the  jurisdiction   of  the  NCARB,                                                              
consisting  of 53  member  board member  jurisdictions,  including                                                              
all  50 states  plus other  jurisdictions  including Puerto  Rico,                                                              
and Guam.                                                                                                                       
MR. HIGHTOWER  explained that  NCARB is working  with Canada.   He                                                              
stated  he serves  on a  national NCARB  subcommittee that  writes                                                              
and  updates the  qualifying  examination.   He  offered that  the                                                              
NCARB has  Canadian membership, as  well, and Canadians  also take                                                              
the U.S.  licensure examinations.   He further explained  that the                                                              
accrediting    board   also   has    accredited   some    Canadian                                                              
universities.   Additionally, the  NCARB is currently  negotiating                                                              
with European  companies and Asia  for cooperative  agreements and                                                              
collaborates  with  various  countries for  comity  licensure  and                                                              
parity in licensing standards, he mentioned.                                                                                    
4:03:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  HIGHTOWER,   in  response  to  Chair  Olson,   answered  that                                                              
Canadian architects  have reciprocity  in Alaska.   He highlighted                                                              
that the  NCARB is further along  with reciprocity in  Canada than                                                              
with other countries.                                                                                                           
4:03:34 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. HIGHTOWER,  in response  to Representative  Buch, stated  that                                                              
Canada appears  to be  open to  working with  Alaska.   He offered                                                              
that  currently  Canada has  more  engineering  work than  it  has                                                              
engineers.   Therefore,  Canada is  more open  to reciprocity,  he                                                              
4:05:15 PM                                                                                                                    
BURDETT LENT, Landscape  Architect Member , Board  of Registration                                                              
for Architects,  Engineers and  Land Surveyors (AELS),  Department                                                              
of Commerce, Community,  & Economic Development  (DCCED) explained                                                              
that  he is  a  licensed landscape  architect  in  Anchorage.   He                                                              
offered  that the  landscape  architects  work cooperatively  with                                                              
Canada  and that  Canadians  are also  members  of their  national                                                              
organization,  CLARB.   Thus,  Canadian landscape  architects  are                                                              
subject  to the  same  licensing  requirements as  U.S.  landscape                                                              
architects, he advised.                                                                                                         
FRANK  RAST, P.E.,  stated  he is  the  current  president of  the                                                              
Alaska   Professional   Design   Council   (APDC),   an   umbrella                                                              
organization  of  design professionals.    He explained  that  the                                                              
AELS board  works to  ensure the  safety of  Alaskans by  ensuring                                                              
that design professionals  are qualified.  He said  he agrees with                                                              
Representative  Neuman   that  the  legislature  can   remand  the                                                              
licensing board if  the board is not operating  within the desires                                                              
of the  legislature.  He  opined that the  AELS Board is  the best                                                              
vehicle  to  ensure  engineers,  architects,  and  land  surveyors                                                              
outside of  Alaska who perform  work within Alaska  meet standards                                                              
that protect the  public health, safety, and welfare  of Alaskans.                                                              
He suggested  that in  any profession  unethical people  will work                                                              
outside their  practice and jeopardize  the public health.   Thus,                                                              
it  is  critical  to  have  a  licensing  board,  he  noted.    He                                                              
reiterated  that   the  LB&A  audit  indicates  that   the  design                                                              
professionals pay  the AELS board  expenses through  their license                                                              
fees.   In fact,  he advised  a surplus  currently exists  for the                                                              
AELS board  since licensed  AELS  members have  paid more  in fees                                                              
than  total  AELS board  expenses  in  the  past  few years.    He                                                              
offered  his   willingness  to   pay  fees  to  ensure   continued                                                              
professional competency in Alaska.                                                                                              
4:08:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON,  after first  determining no  one wished  to testify,                                                              
closed public testimony on HB 85.                                                                                               
4:09:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  moved to report HB 85,  Version 26-LS0420\A                                                              
out  of   committee  with   individual  recommendations   and  the                                                              
accompanying fiscal  notes.  There  being no objection, HB  85 was                                                              
reported from the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                  
CHAIR OLSON  offered his  belief that the  issue of  the landscape                                                              
architect  membership on  the AELS  Board  was not  included as  a                                                              
legislative  audit   recommendation  and  the  matter   should  be                                                              
introduced as a separate bill.                                                                                                  
4:10:43 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 4:10 p.m. to 4:13 p.m.                                                                       
4:13:11 PM                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
good2.wmv HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
Feb 11 Packet Information.doc HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 85
HR 5
HR5 01 Bill ver R.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HR5 02 Employee Free Choice Act of 2007 (color).pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HR5 03 Congress HR 800.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HB85 ver A.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 85
HB85 Sponsor Statement.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 85
HB85-CED-CBPL-02-09-09.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 85
HB85 LBA Audit Summary #08-20058-08.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 85
HB85 LBA Audit Report #08-20058-08.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 85
HB85 Mark Davis Letter of Support.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 85
HB85 LA Aug 07 mtg excerpt.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 85
HR5 04 Bureau of Labor Statistics 2008 Union membership.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HR5 05 McGovernonEFCA.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HR5 06 Al Sharpton against EFCA.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HR5 07 Richard Epstein Unconstitutional.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HR5 08 US Chamber response.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HR5 09 Restaurant Workers.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HR5 ALEC Issue Alert.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HR5 Aves Thompson - Written Testimony Opposing Card Check 02112009.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR5 Letter of Support AK Prosperity.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5
HR5 Letter of Support NFIB.pdf HL&C 2/11/2009 3:15:00 PM
HR 5