Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/30/1996 08:10 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 CSSB 304(RLS) am - ELIGIBILITY FOR LONGEVITY BONUS                          
 Number 091                                                                    
 The first order of business to come before the House State Affairs            
 Committee was CSSB 304(RLS) am.  CHAIR JAMES asked Senator Sharp to           
 present CSSB 304(RLS) am.                                                     
 SENATOR BERT SHARP, Sponsor, said he couldn't claim originality for           
 SB 304 because it had been plagiarized from a section of a bill               
 submitted by the Governor that would have established a means test            
 for longevity bonus.  The testimony of about 60 people in the                 
 Senate State Affairs Committee was all negative except for this one           
 section which they all agreed with.  The decision was made to take            
 that section, add some additional wording and craft a bill that               
 could be supported by the Senate State Affairs Committee.                     
 Basically, SB 304 would disqualify individuals from receiving a               
 longevity bonus if they were out of state for over 180 cumulative             
 days in any 12 month period.  The testimony in the Senate State               
 Affairs Committee was that anyone who was out of state for over 180           
 days really didn't need the longevity bonus and they weren't                  
 relying on it as a means of support in their later years.  The bill           
 contains the standard allowable absences from the state which are             
 very similar, if not exactly, to the permanent fund dividend                  
 program.  Senator Kelly added an amendment on the Senate floor to             
 include an allowance for a sabbatical once every five years for an            
 individual to be out of state for more than 180 days.  He noted the           
 "permanent disqualification" language assumes the phase out stays             
 in effect.  Therefore, if a person was disqualified under the 180-            
 day rule, no new applicants would be entertained including a                  
 disqualification after December of this year; it ties in with the             
 existing law.  He invited questions from committee members.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON arrived at 8:13 a.m.                            
 CHAIR JAMES asked if there were any questions of the sponsor.                 
 Number 403                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN felt it was a rational approach that                
 people would not be considered residents or eligible if they were             
 gone from the state for longer than six months.  He supported                 
 moving the bill out of committee.                                             
 Number 433                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON believed this was a fair way to deal with             
 the issue.  She referred to the language on page 1, line 13,                  
 "beyond the control" and asked if any definition currently existed            
 for that terminology.                                                         
 SENATOR SHARP recalled that existing regulations cover allowable              
 absences as well as the authority to develop further regulations              
 deemed necessary by the Commissioner of the Department of                     
 Administration.  He deferred the question to the representative               
 from the department.                                                          
 CHAIR JAMES thought the balance of the sentence set out how that              
 would be defined.                                                             
 SENATOR SHARP commented the original bill had a $90,000 to $100,000           
 positive fiscal note; in other words a savings.  There would be               
 some additional savings with the addition of Section 2, but the               
 department wasn't able to quantify it when that section was added.            
 Number 593                                                                    
 KAREN PHILLIPS, Supervisor, Longevity Bonus Program, Department of            
 Administration, said "beyond the control" is actually set up for              
 each individual case.  For example, if an individual goes out for             
 chemotherapy treatments and is accompanied by their spouse,                   
 potentially the family member not receiving the chemotherapy                  
 treatments could be disqualified because it would not be beyond               
 their control to come back to the state, but it would be beyond the           
 control of the patient.                                                       
 CHAIR JAMES asked if there were other questions for Ms. Phillips?             
 MS. PHILLIPS referred to the language on page 2, line 6, "a                   
 recipient may take an unpaid sabbatical for a period of up to 12              
 consecutive months" and asked if the recipient was free to                    
 designate how long the sabbatical would be?                                   
 CHAIR JAMES thought so.  She said it was clear to her that up to a            
 period of 12 consecutive months does not necessarily mean January             
 through December, but a person could be absent from the state up to           
 12 months one time during a five year period.                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER made a motion to move CSSB 304(RLS) am            
 with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note.  Hearing            
 no objection, CSSB 304(RLS) am moved from the House State Affairs             

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