Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

02/24/2020 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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Heard & Held
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+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 113(L&C) Out of Committee
        HB  84-WORKERS' COMP: POLICE, FIRE, EMT, PARAMED                                                                    
3:18:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO.  84, "An  Act relating  to the  presumption of                                                               
compensability for  a disability resulting from  certain diseases                                                               
for firefighters, emergency  medical technicians, paramedics, and                                                               
peace officers."                                                                                                                
3:18:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDY  JOSEPHSON,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  as                                                               
prime  sponsor, introduced  HB 84.   He  paraphrased the  sponsor                                                               
statement,  which  read  in its  entirety  as  follows  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     First responders are exposed to  a broad array of toxic                                                                    
     chemicals daily in  the course of their  service to our                                                                    
     communities. This level of exposure  has been linked to                                                                    
     increased  risk of  disease  or  disability among  this                                                                    
     sector of  public servants.  Under current  Alaska law,                                                                    
     the  presumption of  coverage for  certain diseases  or                                                                    
     disabilities  being  caused  by work  only  extends  to                                                                    
     certain  firefighters. House  Bill 84  (HB 84)  has the                                                                    
     core purpose of extending  this presumption of coverage                                                                    
     to emergency medical  technicians, paramedics and peace                                                                    
     Emergency  medical technicians  (EMTs), paramedics  and                                                                    
     peace officers face toxic  exposure comparable to those                                                                    
     faced  by  firefighters  and  often  are  present  when                                                                    
     responding  to  fire  calls  or  when  dealing  with  a                                                                    
     mediation  of other  environmental contaminants.  Since                                                                    
     these  professions   face  the  same  daily   risks  as                                                                    
     firefighters, they deserve the same legal protections.                                                                     
     Additionally, HB 84 adds breast  cancer to the diseases                                                                    
     covered under  Alaska's presumptive illness  law. There                                                                    
     is  emerging  evidence  that breast  cancer  rates  are                                                                    
     significantly  higher  among female  firefighters  than                                                                    
     the  average   population  and  that  there   are  more                                                                    
     instances  of premenopausal  breast cancer  among these                                                                    
     professional women.  There is  also evidence  that many                                                                    
     chemicals  known to  cause  breast  cancer form  during                                                                    
     thermal decomposition.                                                                                                     
     Finally, HB  84 extends  coverage to  professionals who                                                                    
     entered  active service  prior to  August 19,  2008 and                                                                    
     who,  having  gone  through all  official  work-related                                                                    
     medical examinations, did not  show evidence of disease                                                                    
     in their first seven years of service.                                                                                     
     Passage  of HB  84 will  ensure that  Alaska adequately                                                                    
     protects  the  individuals  who choose  professions  to                                                                    
     protect  Alaska.  I  encourage   you  to  support  this                                                                    
     legislation  and urge  you to  reach out  to my  office                                                                    
     with any questions or concerns.                                                                                            
3:24:31 PM                                                                                                                    
ELISE  SORUM-BIRK, Staff,  Representative Andy  Josephson, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  presented a PowerPoint entitled,  "HB 84," on                                                               
behalf of Representative Josephson,  prime sponsor.  She informed                                                               
the committee that most categories  of firefighters are currently                                                               
covered  under   AS  23.30.121   [Presumption  of   coverage  for                                                               
disability from diseases for certain  firefighters].  The purpose                                                               
of  HB 84  is to  extend  the presumption  of compensability  for                                                               
certain  diseases to  three more  professions: emergency  medical                                                               
technicians, peace officers, and paramedics.   She noted that the                                                               
first  responder  professions  are  often  exposed  to  the  same                                                               
dangerous situations and toxins  that firefighters are (slide 2).                                                               
HB 84,  she said, seeks  to expand presumptive coverage  to allow                                                               
for   line-of-duty  claims   and   subsequent   benefits  to   be                                                               
automatically approved as  long as the specific  criteria are met                                                               
under  the  state's  regulations.     Alaska  has  very  specific                                                               
criteria in  place for someone  to be eligible for  the potential                                                               
benefits (Slide 3).   She outlined Alaska's  specific criteria on                                                               
slide 4, which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                 
     ? Narrowly defined and limited in AS 23.30.121                                                                             
     ?  Presumption of  coverage may  be  rebutted based  on                                                                    
     tobacco  use,  physical   fitness,  weight,  lifestyle,                                                                    
     hereditary factors,  exposure from other  employment or                                                                    
     non-employment activities                                                                                                  
     ? May not  extend for more than 3 months  for each year                                                                    
     of  service  or  60  months   following  last  date  of                                                                    
     ? Only to those who have  served for a minimum of seven                                                                    
     ?  Only to  individuals who  have undergone  qualifying                                                                    
     medical  exam  and  requisite   annual  exams  with  no                                                                    
     evidence of disease                                                                                                        
     ? Only  if the  individual with  cancer was  exposed to                                                                    
     known carcinogens in the course of employment                                                                              
MS. SORUM-BIRK directed attention to slide 5, entitled                                                                          
"Sectional   Analysis,"   which   read   as   follows   [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     ? Section 1:                                                                                                             
     ? Amends  AS 23.30.121(b)  throughout to  add emergency                                                                    
     medical  technician,  paramedic  and peace  officer  to                                                                    
     professions   presumed   covered  for   disability   or                                                                    
     ? Creates a new section  to include breast cancer under                                                                    
     diseases  for which  a covered  professional can  claim                                                                    
     ?  Extends   coverage  to  certain   professionals  who                                                                    
     entered active service prior to August 19, 2008.                                                                           
     ? Section 2, Section 3, Section 4:                                                                                       
     ? Includes emergency  medical technician, paramedic and                                                                    
     peace officer  among presumptively  covered professions                                                                    
     ? Section 5:                                                                                                             
     ?   Provides   definitions    of   "emergency   medical                                                                    
     technician,"   "firefighter,""paramedic,"  and   "peace                                                                    
     ? Section 6:                                                                                                             
        Clarifies that  AS 23.30.121  as amended  applies to                                                                    
     claims  made on  or after  the effective  date of  this                                                                    
     ? Section 7:                                                                                                             
     ?  Encourages  revisors  to update  catch  line  of  AS                                                                    
     23.30.121 to reflect changes made by this Act.                                                                             
MS. SORUM-BIRK continued to slide 6, entitled "Diseases covered                                                                 
in Alaska," which read as follows [original punctuation                                                                         
        Currently  covered:   respiratory  disease,  certain                                                                  
     cardiovascular  events   related  to   toxin  exposure,                                                                    
     primary  brain  cancer, malignant  melanoma,  leukemia,                                                                    
     non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, bladder cancer, ureter cancer,                                                                     
     kidney cancer, prostate cancer                                                                                             
     ? Added by HB 84: breast cancer                                                                                          
        ? Emerging literature suggests a higher rate of                                                                         
     breast cancer among women firefighters                                                                                     
3:31:56 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.   SORUM-BIRK  directed   attention  to   slide  8,   "Expands                                                               
definition  of  firefighter."   She  explained  that the  current                                                               
statutory   definition  of   firefighter  that's   used  in   the                                                               
presumptive illness  legislation in presumptive illness  law does                                                               
not  include  individuals  who  are employees  of  the  state  of                                                               
Alaska.  This means that  airport firefighters who are Department                                                               
of  Transportation   &  Public  Facilities   (DOT&PF)  employees,                                                               
employees of  the state fire  marshal, and  wildland firefighters                                                               
employed by the  Department of Natural Resources  are not covered                                                               
by current  law.  For  this reason,  HB 84 adds  firefighters who                                                               
are state employees to the  definition of firefighter.  She noted                                                               
that  at least  13 states  cover police  officers, and  10 states                                                               
cover paramedics  and EMTs.   She added  that there is  a growing                                                               
body  of  research  relating  to   the  cancer  risk  for  police                                                               
officers.    Several  studies  have  found  correlations  between                                                               
police  work and  increases  in  various types  of  cancer.   She                                                               
further  noted  that  the  most   common  hazards  for  EMTs  and                                                               
paramedics  include responding  to  natural disasters,  terrorist                                                               
attacks,   and   chemical   spills   released   during   chemical                                                               
transportation.   Law  enforcement personnel  are also  concerned                                                               
with  clandestine  drug  labs  and  exposure,  specifically  from                                                               
methamphetamine production.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON noted  that  the  2008 legislation  was                                                               
restricted and constrained.                                                                                                     
3:36:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   HANNAN   questioned    whether   the   statutory                                                               
definition  of  peace  officer  includes  village  public  safety                                                               
officers  (VPSOs) who  in many  communities, are  the only  first                                                               
MS.  SORUM-BIRK  said  she would  follow-up  with  the  requested                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN inquired  as  to  how firefighters  verify                                                               
that they were exposed to carcinogens on the job.                                                                               
3:38:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON said he does  not know; however, he read                                                               
the following  from the  John Adamson case  [ADAMSON v.  State of                                                               
Alaska, Intervenor.]:                                                                                                           
     At  the hearing,  Adamson testified  that  he had  been                                                                    
     exposed  to soot  in the  course of  fighting fire  and                                                                    
     that  he had  been involved  in fighting  several large                                                                    
     fires  including a  paint supply  store in  which paint                                                                    
     was burning.   Dr. Allems agreed that  Adamson had been                                                                    
     exposed  to  soot.   Dr.  Allems  also  testified  that                                                                    
     arsenic is used  in paint pigments and  cadmium is used                                                                    
     in paints  and batteries.   Cadmium, arsenic,  and soot                                                                    
     are  all listed  as known  carcinogens by  the national                                                                    
     toxicology program.                                                                                                        
CHAIR   SPOHNHOLZ  clarified   that  by   "soot,"  Representative                                                               
Josephson was referring to ash.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  offered  his understanding  that,  not                                                               
without  a  battle  by  the municipality,  Adamson  was  able  to                                                               
provide anecdotal  evidence of his  exposure to carcinogens.   He                                                               
said keeping a log is typically how it's done.                                                                                  
3:39:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN asked how  many disability claims have been                                                               
processed  since  the  law  passed  in  2008  from  which  public                                                               
employees  or  volunteer   firefighters  have  received  workers'                                                               
MS. SORUM-BIRK  offered her understanding  that "just  a handful"                                                               
of cases have used this  presumption of compensability in Alaska.                                                               
Regarding   the  determination   of  carcinogens,   she  directed                                                               
attention to page  2, lines 28-29 of the bill,  which states that                                                               
the  lists  of  cancer-causing  agents must  be  defined  by  the                                                               
International  Agency  for Research  on  Cancer  or the  National                                                               
Toxicology Program.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON offered to  follow up with the requested                                                               
3:41:50 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RASMUSSEN referencing  AS 01.10.609(a)(7)(A)-(F),                                                               
said the definitions  of a "peace officer" include  an officer of                                                               
the  state  troopers;   a  member  of  the  police   force  of  a                                                               
municipality; a village public safety  officer; a regional public                                                               
safety officer;  a United States  marshal or deputy  marshal; and                                                               
an officer  whose duty it is  to enforce and preserve  the public                                                               
peace.   She expressed  her concern  that that  subparagraph (F),                                                               
"an officer whose  duty it is to enforce and  preserve the public                                                               
peace," is too vague.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON acknowledged  her concern  and said  he                                                               
would look into the meaning of that categorization.                                                                             
CHAIR  SPOHNHOLZ  noted  that subsection  (F)  may  be  regarding                                                               
serious emergencies or  larger disasters.  She  added, people who                                                               
might not respond to certain  kinds of emergencies in every given                                                               
scenario will do so  in the case of a serious  emergency.  In the                                                               
case of a larger disaster,  emergency responders of all different                                                               
kinds  will  participate in  different  ways  according to  their                                                               
training and  could be exposed to  things that they might  not be                                                               
in the course of their regular duties.                                                                                          
3:43:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   RASMUSSEN  mentioned   the  research   on  women                                                               
firefighters and breast  cancer.  She asked  if "there's anything                                                               
that correlates female firefighters  to, maybe, starting a little                                                               
bit  later  in   life  with  starting  their   family  ?  getting                                                               
themselves established in a career that's more male dominated."                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  explained that  the San  Francisco Fire                                                               
Department did  a study that found  six times the normal  rate of                                                               
breast  cancer  among its  firefighters.    He acknowledged  that                                                               
there could be other causalities.                                                                                               
MS.  SORUM-BIRK noted  that the  same study  found a  much higher                                                               
level of breast cancer among  premenopausal women compared to the                                                               
general population.   She said she's  not sure if they  looked at                                                               
the specific factors mentioned by Representative Rasmussen.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  RASMUSSEN offered  her belief  that, in  general,                                                               
age is a factor  for women.  She said that  as women approach age                                                               
55 it increases the likelihood  of developing breast cancer.  She                                                               
went on  to say  she heard  that women who  breast feed  are less                                                               
likely to develop  breast cancer and asked if there  is any known                                                               
correlation between the two.                                                                                                    
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ  agreed that  when expanding  presumptive illness                                                               
to include breast  cancer, it's fair to ask  that [the committee]                                                               
has  a  clear  understanding  of  what the  "linkage"  is  to  an                                                               
increase in rates.                                                                                                              
3:47:20 PM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS HOFFMAN, Public Safety Employees  Association, said he has                                                               
been  a  firefighter  and  police  officer  at  the  Ted  Stevens                                                               
Anchorage  International Airport  for the  last four  years.   He                                                               
stated that he and his co-workers  are appreciative that HB 84 is                                                               
being expanded to include the  state firefighters.  He said there                                                               
are a  lot of  hazardous materials involved  in responding  to an                                                               
aircraft  or  airport fire.    He  offered  his belief  that  all                                                               
firefighters who serve  the state of Alaska,  whether in training                                                               
or  responding to  incidents, have  been exposed  to carcinogens.                                                               
He expressed his support for HB 84.                                                                                             
3:49:33 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RASMUSSEN asked how  many state firefighters would                                                               
be included in HB 84.                                                                                                           
MR.  HOFFMAN  replied that  in  his  department alone  there  are                                                               
anywhere between 68-75 firefighters,  not including the Fairbanks                                                               
Airport or the UAA firefighters.                                                                                                
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ  thanked Mr. Hoffman  and the rest of  the public                                                               
safety employees for their work for the state.                                                                                  
3:50:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ announced that HB 84 was held over.                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 215 DOLWFD UI Presentation 02.21.2020.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 215
HB 215 Governor's Transmittal Letter 01.21.20.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 215
HB 215 Fiscal Note DOLWD-UI 01.07.20.PDF HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 215
HB 215 Trust Fund Base Line Charts 01.3.2020.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 215
HB 113 v. S Amendment #3 HL&C 2.22.2020.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 113
HB 84 Fiscal Note DLWD WC 4.3.19.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Opposition Document- AML Joint Insurance Association 3.29.19.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Presentation 4.3.19.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 2/26/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Sectional Analysis 4.3.19.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Sponsor Statement 3.28.19.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Supporting Document- Breast Cancer in Women Firefighters.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Supporting Document- Asbestos 3.28.19.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Supporting Document- Breast Cancer Rates For Women Firefighters San Francisco 2.5.20.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Supporting Document- Legal Analysis on State Firefighters 2.5.20.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Supporting Document- Letter of Support ACAT 4.3.19.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 2/26/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Supporting Document- Letter of Support- APOA 3.28.19.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Supporting Document- Literature Review- Police Occupational Hazards 2.5.20.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 2/26/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Supporting Document- RADS in Police from Chemical Spill- 3.28.19.pdf HL&C 2/24/2020 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 2/26/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84