Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/21/1994 09:11 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSSB 250(STA): An Act relating to the Older Alaskans Commission and staff of the commission; changing the name of the Older Alaskans Commission to the Alaska Commission on Aging and extending the termination date of the commission; relating to the Alaska Pioneers' Homes Advisory Board; relating to services and programs for older Alaskans; and providing for an effective date. Nancy Bear Usera, Commissioner, Department of Administration, spoke in support of SB 250. Connie Sipe, Executive Director, Older Alaskans Commission, Department of Administration, spoke to questions regarding grants and matching monies for pilot projects. Senator Kelly MOVED amendment 1, page 7, line 1, removing the words "program or" and adding the word "pilot." No objections being heard, amendment 1 was ADOPTED for incorporation into a Senate Finance Substitute for the bill. CSSB 250(FIN) was REPORTED OUT of committee with a "do pass," and a zero fiscal note for the Department of Administration. CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 250(STA): An Act relating to the Older Alaskans Commission and staff of the commission; changing the name of the Older Alaskans Commission to the Alaska Commission on Aging and extending the termination date of the commission; relating to the Alaska Pioneers' Homes Advisory Board; relating to services and programs for older Alaskans; and providing for an effective date. Co-chair Pearce announced that SB 250 would be heard next and asked Commissioner Usera to remain at the table. Commissioner Usera said that SB 250 was the administrative piece that went along with the senior's initiative that had been put forward this session. In order to have a division that effectively and efficiently housed the programs, it was felt that some realignment of the old divisions should be done which were served by two advisory boards, the Older Alaskans Commission and Pioneer Home Advisory Board. This bill maintained both of those commissions separately but housed them in the same division aligning them more closely. The chairperson of one board was now a member of the other board. Secondly, it changed the name of the Older Alaskans Commission to the Alaska Commission on Aging which was more consistent with the national model. This was important since a large number of matching federal funds were received for the administration of these programs. She went on to say that one change made in the State Affairs Committee was that instead of the Governor appointing chairpersons of the Board, seniors would appoint them. She said that the administration had no problem with that. Senator Kelly asked for an explanation of Section 16 on page 6, line 19. Ms. Usera said it was a technical amendment to do with the grant process and whether the match could be in- kind versus cash. Senator Kelly asked for more of an explanation. Ms. Usera went on to say that this section allowed the Commission the flexibility to reduce or waive the local match requirements for grantees when waiver was in the public interest. Currently, the non-profits that received some grants had to have match requirements and because of the nature of some of the local senior service programs, they do not necessarily have a cash match but labor match. It provided flexibility to the non-profit group. She said this section provided regulator authority to establish regulations which would define when a waiver of the match could happen and under what circumstances. Co-chair Pearce pointed out that this was a portion of the orignial Governor's bill. Ms. Usera said the genesis of the bill was a review by a task force on senior services that was established with both the Older Alaskans Commission and the administrative representatives of a number of senior's programs. This was their recommendation. At that time, Connie Sipe, Executive Director, Older Alaskans Commission, Department of Administration, arrived and Co-chair Pearce posed the question to her regarding the waiver for grants. CONNIE SIPE explained that in some circumstances where start-up grants for certain organizations, such as the World Delivery of In-Home Respite Care, did not reside in the same location where they were setting up and arranging for respite care, were not able to raise a total match the first year. Many of the organizations receiving the grant may ask the client for contributions, much of which may be in-kind such as rent, but found it hard in the start-up year to come up with the 10 percent match even with client contributions. She noted, in contrast, the grants for home care services for people with developmental disabilities had no match requirement. The 10 percent match had become a barrier in starting up some home care providers especially in rural areas. The Department of Law had recommended handling this in regulations rather than in statute. Senator Kelly maintained that it should be defined in statute. Ms. Sipe said the statutes already define a "pilot project" and she would support an amendment to that effect for SB 250. Senator Kelly MOVED amendment 1 changing the words "program or" to the word "pilot" on page 7, line 1. No objection being heard, it was ADOPTED for incorporation into CSSB 250(FIN). In answer to Senator Sharp regarding the length of pilot projects, Ms. Sipe explained that the pilot project grant section had been used rarely in the past. The regulations said that the Commission made the determination of the length of time but, at present, were on a 2-year grant cycle. The pilot project language talked about the fact that to get approved as a pilot project there had to be an estimated projected cost of operations for the next 3 succeeding years but did not say that it would be in a pilot project status that long. That was part of the planning for approval. Senator Sharp felt, with this incentive, the pilot project might become more popular. He wanted the record to read that a pilot project should have a maximum of three years. In answer to Senator Rieger regarding AS 47.65.040 (a), Ms. Sipe agreed that (a) contradicted (b). She said that (b) set a percentage and then (a) capped it at 10 percent. Most cities and towns larger than Petersburg would have percentages larger than 10 percent if the percentage formula was used in Section (b) but then (a) capped it. This statute was first adopted in 1980. She pointed out that grant matches of 20 or 30 percent would be difficult for groups to meet. She said the 10 percent was significant enough. Community mental health centers had 25 percent match requirements but were allowed to charge fees. The federal programs only allowed the organizations to ask for suggested donations for nutrition, transportation, and support services which limited how much cash could be generated from client fees. The more intensive client services like adult day care could ask for fees since they were supported with state funds rather than federal. She felt the 10 percent match was reasonable but it was an old statute. Senator Rieger asked if Section (b) should be repealed. Ms. Sipe said that Section (b) could be repealed but not Section (c). Senator Rieger left it up to Co-chair Pearce on whether to take any action on this issue. Co-chair Pearce said she would let it go. Senator Kerttula MOVED for passage of CSSB 250(FIN) from committee with individual recommendations. No objection being heard, it was REPORTED OUT with a "do pass," and a zero fiscal note for the Department of Administration. Co- chair Pearce, Senators Rieger, Kelly, Kerttula and Sharp signed "do pass."