Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

02/28/2020 03:15 PM House LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 24(L&C) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HB  84-WORKERS' COMP: POLICE, FIRE, EMT, PARAMED                                                                    
3:31:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ announced  that the next 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."                                                                                                                
3:31:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   ANDY   JOSEPHSON,  Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
provided a  brief review  of HB  84, as prime  sponsor.   He said                                                               
providing  coverage  in the  event  of  exposure to  carcinogenic                                                               
chemicals  is a  top priority  for state  law enforcement.   That                                                               
exposure, he noted, causes cancer  within the limited window that                                                               
currently exists in  Title 23.  Additionally,  the bill clarifies                                                               
language in the Adamson v. the  State of Alaska.  Furthermore, HB
24 clarifies that all state firefighters are covered.                                                                           
CHAIR  SPOHNHOLZ asked  Representative  Josephson  to repeat  his                                                               
last sentence.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON   provided  a   scenario  in   which  a                                                               
firefighter  at  the  University   of  Alaska  Fairbanks  gets  a                                                               
respiratory problem  from a fire he  put out.  He  explained that                                                               
under  HB  84,   he  would  not  have  a   presumption  that  the                                                               
respiratory problem he suffered was related to that fire.                                                                       
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ  sought clarification  as to  who is  included in                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
3:34:03 PM                                                                                                                    
ELISE  SORUM-BIRK, Staff,  Representative Andy  Josephson, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  on behalf of Representative  Josephson, prime                                                               
sponsor,  explained   that  employees   of  the  state   who  are                                                               
firefighters or peace officers will be covered.                                                                                 
3:34:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN questioned  whether  the  definition of  a                                                               
peace officer  includes tribal police  and Village  Public Safety                                                               
Officers (VPSOs).                                                                                                               
MS. SORUM-BIRK  noted that  there are  two definitions  of "peace                                                               
officer" in  Alaska statute, adding  that HB 84 uses  the broader                                                               
definition.     She   answered  yes,   it  would   include  those                                                               
3:35:36 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  addressed a question from  the previous                                                               
bill hearing.   He said the  current benefit from 2008  is rarely                                                               
needed  and   that  approximately  one  cancer   claim  and  four                                                               
respiratory  claims are  filed per  year.   He  stated that  this                                                               
should  not  inflate  municipal or  state  workers'  compensation                                                               
insurance premiums.                                                                                                             
3:37:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  SORUM-BIRK  deferred  questions  regarding  the  correlation                                                               
between   female   firefighters   and  breast   cancer   to   Ms.                                                               
3:39:17 PM                                                                                                                    
JESSICA  THROWBRIDGE informed  that committee  that she  has been                                                               
studying the  health impact  of exposure  to toxic  chemicals for                                                               
the past nine years.   She added that for the  past six years she                                                               
has specifically focused on the cohort of women firefighters.                                                                   
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ asked for a high-level summary of her findings.                                                                 
MS.  THROWBRIDGE  explained  that  she is  studying  exposure  to                                                               
perfluoroalkyl  substances (PFASs)  that could  be occupationally                                                               
related.   The  study found  that women  firefighters had  higher                                                               
levels of  three different compounds compared  to nonfirefighters                                                               
by a statistically  significant amount.  She  noted that everyone                                                               
in the study was exposed  to multiple different compounds.  Other                                                               
research  has  documented  high exposure  among  firefighters  in                                                               
general  to  chemicals  like  PAHs,  arsenic,  formaldehyde,  and                                                               
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ  pointed out that  in Alaska, there is  a problem                                                               
with  PFAS  water  contamination  as  a result  of  using  it  in                                                               
firefighting  foams.    She  asked  for  a  description  of  what                                                               
exposure  for firefighters  or  other  emergency personnel  might                                                               
look like.                                                                                                                      
MS. THROWBRIDGE  agreed that  PFAS water  contamination is  a big                                                               
problem.  She said in California  they don't have the same levels                                                               
of PFAS in drinking water, which  enabled them to exclude that as                                                               
a potential  source in  their study.   She explained  that common                                                               
exposure among firefighters includes  aqueous [film forming] foam                                                               
(AFFF),  which  fire  fighters  frequently use.    PFAS  is  also                                                               
suspected to  be in the water-resistant  and flame-retardant gear                                                               
that  firefighters  wear.   Furthermore,  the  study  found  that                                                               
firefighters'  job  positions  might   be  associated  with  PFAS                                                               
levels, in  that those  fighting the  fires directly  have higher                                                               
levels than those who drive the truck or provide backup.                                                                        
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ asked what that means  in terms of an increase in                                                               
cancer rate or causality.                                                                                                       
MS. THROWBRIDGE  said that's a  tough question to  answer because                                                               
their  study  is specifically  focused  on  exposure and  doesn't                                                               
follow the  participants over  time to look  at cancer  rates for                                                               
several reasons.  First, most  fire departments don't have enough                                                               
women to  determine a statistically significant  association even                                                               
if  it exists.   Second,  looking at  cancer outcomes  can hinder                                                               
prevention  efforts  because  it requires  waiting  until  cancer                                                               
cases appear.   Nonetheless, she  stated that  there is a  lot of                                                               
evidence both  in animal and human  studies to show that  PFAS is                                                               
associated with breast cancer.                                                                                                  
3:44:50 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN asked  for  Ms. Throwbridge's  speculative                                                               
hypothesis on the time of exposure before the onset of cancer.                                                                  
MS.  THROWBRIDGE asked  if  Representative  Hannan's question  is                                                               
referring to PFAS specifically.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN  said that  although  she  has a  personal                                                               
interest  in the  PFAS  element,  HB 84  considers  all kinds  of                                                               
carcinogenic exposure.                                                                                                          
MS. THROWBRIDGE  explained that the biology  is very complicated,                                                               
and  it would  be challenging  to establish  a timeframe  between                                                               
exposure and  outcome -  primarily because  there isn't  just one                                                               
exposure  and  the  biology  behind  exposure  isn't  necessarily                                                               
straightforward.   Furthermore,  she pointed  out that  there are                                                               
other exposures  beyond occupational, as firefighters  have lives                                                               
outside  of the  firehouse.   Nonetheless, presumption  laws from                                                               
different places  have cited  five years  for breast  cancer, she                                                               
3:47:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SPOHNHOLZ opened  public  testimony.   After  ascertaining                                                               
that no one wished to testify,  she closed public testimony.  She                                                               
announced that HB 84 was held over.                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB24 Sectional Analysis v. K 2.27.2020.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 24
HB24 Explanation of Changes Ver M to Ver K 02.27.2020.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 24
HB 24 Work Draft v. K 2.27.2020.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 24
HB 84 Supporting Document- Women Firefighters Biomonitoring Collaborative Research Update.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/20/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 Letter of Support ACOA 2.26.20.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/20/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 84 APEI Letter of Opposition 02.25.2020.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/20/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 91 Responses to L&C Committee Questions 02.14.2020.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 91
HB 84 Labor and Commerece Committee Question Responses 2.26.20.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/20/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 84
HB 91 Testimony in Opposition Redacted 2.28.2020.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 91
HB 91 Testimony in Support Redacted 2.28.2020.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 91
HB 24 Anchorage School District Comment on TRS and Tenure 02.28.2020.pdf HL&C 2/28/2020 3:15:00 PM
HB 24