Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

05/03/2022 01:30 PM Senate HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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            SB 191-REPEAL COVID 19 DISASTER EMERGENCY                                                                       
2:15:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   WILSON  reconvened   the   meeting   and  announced   the                                                               
consideration of SENATE BILL NO.  191 "An Act repealing emergency                                                               
powers  of the  commissioner of  health and  social services  and                                                               
certain  provisions   related  to  the  response   to  the  novel                                                               
coronavirus disease; and providing for an effective date."                                                                      
2:16:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  LORA  REINBOLD,  speaking  as the  sponsor  of  SB  191,                                                               
introduced  the  legislation  by reading  the  following  sponsor                                                               
     The  purpose  of SB  191  is  to repeal  the  emergency                                                                    
     powers of the commissioner  of the Department of Health                                                                    
     and  Social Services  related to  the  response to  the                                                                    
     novel  coronavirus. The  responsibility  lies with  the                                                                    
     Governor,  nowhere  in  the   state  or  United  States                                                                    
     Constitution does it allow for  this transfer of power.                                                                    
     Separation  of Powers  is vital  to the  fabric of  our                                                                    
     country and  state, repealing  the emergency  powers of                                                                    
     the commissioner restores the delicate balance.                                                                            
SENATOR  REINBOLD directed  attention to  the sectional  analysis                                                               
for SB 191 and then discussed the  reasons she feels SB 191 is so                                                               
important. The sectional analysis read as follows:                                                                              
     Section  One: Sections  4,9,10,13-16, 20,  and 21  (b)-                                                                  
     (e), Ch. 2, SLA 2021, are repealed.                                                                                        
     Section Two:  This Act  takes effect  immediately under                                                                  
     AS 01.10.070 (c)                                                                                                           
SENATOR  REINBOLD  relayed  her  belief  that  it  was  extremely                                                               
important for either the Department  of Law or the administration                                                               
to tell Alaskans what the  difference is between an emergency and                                                               
a  disaster  declaration.  She  highlighted  that  the  emergency                                                               
Governor Dunleavy  declared in  March 2020  that was  supposed to                                                               
last just 30  days was still in effect, and  that power regarding                                                               
this emergency  had been ceded  to Commissioner Crum.  She called                                                               
this a  massive abuse of  power. She  referenced SB 144  that she                                                               
introduced  to   embolden  the  Legislative  Branch   to  address                                                               
emergencies  and mentioned  the  vaccination bill  of rights  put                                                               
forward in SB 156 that was related to SB 191.                                                                                   
2:21:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR REINBOLD  stated that  on December 20,  2021 she  wrote a                                                               
letter  under   the  Freedom  of   Information  Act   asking  the                                                               
administration to provide  answers to issues, and  she would like                                                               
those  to be  part of  the record  to explain  why SB  191 is  so                                                               
important. She described the issues as follows:                                                                                 
   1. Provide all  clinical  evidence of  the  isolated  COVID-19                                                               
     virus and know  variants and where they  had been identified                                                               
     and  isolated. This  is to  justify the  emergency. Question                                                               
     number 11, in particular, is a really good one.                                                                            
   2. Provide all   clinical  evidence   that  masks   have  been                                                               
     successful in  preventing the spread of  COVID-19, and which                                                               
     ones worked the best.                                                                                                      
   3. Provide  all  available   clinical  evidence   that  social                                                               
     distancing  has been  effective  at stopping  the spread  of                                                               
   4. Provide all clinical evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are in                                                               
     fact  true  traditional  vaccines   and  that  they  provide                                                               
     immunity, not just mRNA therapy technology.                                                                                
   5. Provide all clinical  evidence that  COVID-19 vaccines  are                                                               
     effective at  preventing COVID-19  infection and  which have                                                               
     been proven to be the most effective.                                                                                      
   6. Provide all clinical  evidence that  COVID-19 vaccines  are                                                               
     effective in  preventing the spread and  which vaccines have                                                               
     been  proven  to  be  the   most  effective,  including  the                                                               
     clinical data.                                                                                                             
   7. Provide all clinical evidence  that COVID-19  vaccines have                                                               
     proven to  be safe for  human use, backed by  clinical data.                                                               
     Please  show the  adverse events/deaths  that have  followed                                                               
     with the  use of  these vaccines and  which have  been least                                                               
     safe according to all available clinical evidence.                                                                         
   8. Provide a list of the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines,                                                               
     broken out be manufacturer.                                                                                                
 9. Provide  information   regarding   known   adverse   events                                                                 
     regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.                                                                                            
 10. Provide all evidence that pertains to COVID-19 vaccines in                                                                 
    the US that each is fully FDA approved for broad use.                                                                       
 11. Provide all clinical evidence that an emergency exists to                                                                  
    justify the emergency use of the products.                                                                                  
 12. Provide the clinical information on the batches or lots of                                                                 
    vaccine may carry the mRNA technology - either the RNA or                                                                   
    the DNA, and any basic thing that could happen to that.                                                                     
    13. Provide all clinical documentation for the long-term                                                                    
    effects, including the side effects of the mRNA vaccinations                                                                
    in COVID-19.                                                                                                                
SENATOR  REINBOLD  stated  that  the  response  to  the  forgoing                                                               
questions  could  be described  as  non-answers.  She found  this                                                               
unacceptable  because  Alaskans  have   the  right  to  know  the                                                               
answers. In conclusion  she noted the zero fiscal  note and urged                                                               
the governor  to answer the  questions and lift  this unnecessary                                                               
emergency order.                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COSTELLO said  she shares  the concern  that power  that                                                               
should reside  with the governor  has been ceded to  an unelected                                                               
official.  She asked  when Commissioner  Crum's emergency  powers                                                               
would end if SB 191 did not pass.                                                                                               
2:31:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  REINBOLD  answered  that   the  bill  has  an  immediate                                                               
effective date,  but Commissioner Crum  has the power to  end the                                                               
emergency right  now. She has  requested an end to  the emergency                                                               
declaration repeatedly but to no  avail. She understands that one                                                               
reason is  related to  the enhanced SNAP  benefits and  she views                                                               
that as an  abuse of power. Her belief is  that more people would                                                               
return to work if benefits such as these were not available.                                                                    
2:32:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES  referenced a  bill  that  passed that  says  the                                                               
commissioner's authority  would expire either when  the executive                                                               
branch  says the  emergency  is  ending or  when  the Center  for                                                               
Disease Control  (CDC) says  the emergency  is over.  The federal                                                               
emergency currently is under a  90-day extension that will end in                                                               
mid-July.  She acknowledged  that the  bill did  designate narrow                                                               
authority  to the  commissioner.  The  department could:  provide                                                               
public  health  services  to  mitigate  the  emergency,  maintain                                                               
federal benefits for SNAP and  congregate sheltering, and procure                                                               
and allocate medications related to the public health emergency.                                                                
2:35:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH asked, since this  is in uncodified law, would the                                                               
question be moot as of June  30 when the Department of Health and                                                               
Social Services  ceases to  exist. He also  asked the  sponsor to                                                               
post the letter to DR. Zink on  BASIS so it would be available to                                                               
the public.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  BEGICH said  his concern  with SB  191 is  that it  goes                                                               
beyond  the  commissioner's   power.  He  specifically  described                                                               
Sections 9, and 10, ch. 2, SLA 2021 that would be repealed:                                                                     
   • Section 9 relates to legislation from Senator Costello                                                                     
     currently under consideration in the House relating to                                                                     
     charitable online gaming. He said he'd be reluctant to take                                                                
     away the ability for that to continue.                                                                                     
   • Section 10 relating to school operating funds was removed                                                                  
     from  SB 111  to  ensure  a repeal  date  of  June 30,  2025                                                               
     because of  the federal funding  to the state for  COVID and                                                               
     the American Rescue  Plan Act (ARPA). The  intention was for                                                               
     schools to have the ability to absorb that money.                                                                          
SENATOR BEGICH and  asked the sponsor why Sections 9  and 10 were                                                               
included in  SB 191. Both are  issues of public policy  that have                                                               
not been  settled, which  could cause  great hardship  for school                                                               
districts and charitable businesses that are operating online.                                                                  
2:39:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR REINBOLD said she would like  both her letter to Dr. Zink                                                               
and  the  administration's response  to  be  part of  the  public                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH  clarified that he  requested the letter  from Dr.                                                               
Zink,   the  sponsor's   letter,  and   the  response   from  the                                                               
administration to be posted on BASIS.                                                                                           
SENATOR REINBOLD read the February  8, 2022 memorandum from Megan                                                               
A. Wallace, Legal Services director:                                                                                            
     Attached is  the draft bill you  requested, relating to                                                                    
     the  repeal of  ch. 2,  SLA 2021  (HB 76).  Please note                                                                    
     that  some sections  were  not  repealed, because  they                                                                    
     have  already been  repealed. More  specifically, under                                                                    
     sec. 21,  ch. 2, SLA  2021, secs. 1    3, 5, 7,  8, 11,                                                                    
     and  17  were repealed  on  April  30, 2021,  when  the                                                                    
     governor  declared  that  the  public  health  disaster                                                                    
     emergency  no longer  existed. I  also  did not  repeal                                                                    
     sec. 6,  because the  final report  was due  under that                                                                    
     section  no  later than  January  31,  2022, which  has                                                                    
     already  passed.  Please  note  that  considering  your                                                                    
     request  to  repeal  the  Act   in  its  "entirety,"  I                                                                    
     repealed  sec. 12,  which is  a section  preventing the                                                                    
     governor  from using  the  revised program  legislative                                                                    
     (RPL)  process to  increase an  appropriation item  for                                                                    
     the  fiscal  years  ending  June  30,  2021,  based  on                                                                    
     certain  additional federal  receipts. If  you did  not                                                                    
     intend to repeal that restriction,  please let me know.                                                                    
     Finally,  secs. 18  and 19  were not  repealed, because                                                                    
     they created  new repeal  dates for  ch. 10,  SLA 2020,                                                                    
     which have already passed.                                                                                                 
2:41:30 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH said  he was asking specifically  about Sections 9                                                               
and 10, which the memo did not mention.                                                                                         
SENATOR REINBOLD provided the following response:                                                                               
     If we have  another piece of legislation  in play right                                                                    
     now, it  would probably  be wise to  just go  ahead and                                                                    
     move forward  and not  keep the  whole state  under, in                                                                    
     some people's  opinion, oppression. If we  just need to                                                                    
     just deal with  gaming, let's deal with  gaming. But we                                                                    
     don't  need  to  keep everybody  in  this  unnecessary,                                                                    
     constant over two year state  of emergency. Also we can                                                                    
     do gaming. To me that doesn't make sense.                                                                                  
2:43:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON opened public testimony on SB 191.                                                                                 
2:44:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CINDY FULLER, representing self,  Juneau, Alaska, said the COVID-                                                               
19  mitigations that  are  being  done to  people  need to  stop.                                                               
There  have been  hundreds of  kids  that haven't  been in  class                                                               
because they weren't  masked. She asked the committee  to pass SB
191 so  people can  get on  with their lives  and money  could be                                                               
spent on more important things.                                                                                                 
2:46:02 PM                                                                                                                    
RICH  ANDERSON,  representing  self,  Juneau,  Alaska,  described                                                               
traveling throughout the US last  year and finding the conditions                                                               
close to normal,  but not in Juneau. He opined  that the pandemic                                                               
will  be over  when people  decide it's  over. As  an issue  it's                                                               
becoming less  relevant. He said it's  time for people to  get on                                                               
with  their lives  because the  fallout could  be worse  than the                                                               
pandemic.  People have  anxiety  disorders that  "weren't on  the                                                               
map"  pre COVID.  He  urged  the committee  to  help people  move                                                               
forward.  He  also  voiced  concern   that  power  was  given  to                                                               
nonelected people because the public  didn't have a say and can't                                                               
vote them from office.                                                                                                          
2:49:46 PM                                                                                                                    
ELIZE GAVITT, representing self,  Juneau, Alaska, stated that she                                                               
supports  SB 191  because the  mandates are  ruining society  and                                                               
traumatizing children. People should trust their immune system.                                                                 
2:50:20 PM                                                                                                                    
LISA WARD, representing self, Juneau,  Alaska, stated support for                                                               
SB 191. She  asked when in history an emergency  lasted two years                                                               
and emphasized that it was time to move forward.                                                                                
2:51:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON closed public testimony on SB 191.                                                                                 
SENATOR COSTELLO referenced an earlier  question about what would                                                               
happen  to the  more than  800  charities that  are permitted  to                                                               
conduct online  gaming to  support things  like youth  sports and                                                               
other  activities. She  explained that  the online  portion would                                                               
end June 30 unless SB 201 were to pass.                                                                                         
SENATOR BEGICH clarified  that Section 10 does  not have anything                                                               
to do with  spending money for masks for students.  It's about an                                                               
issue that's been debated for  years about whether to give school                                                               
districts flexibility on their fund  balances. That provision was                                                               
removed from  SB 111,  and if  SB 191 were  to pass  as currently                                                               
drafted, it  would not be  possible to address that  fund balance                                                               
issue. That is the reason for his concern about SB 191.                                                                         
2:52:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR REINBOLD  said she  would be happy  to work  with Senator                                                               
Begich  and Senator  Costello to  resolve the  issues related  to                                                               
school operating funds and online gaming.                                                                                       
SENATOR HUGHES  said she too  was concerned that SB  191 included                                                               
Section  10, ch.  2,  SLA 2021.  She continued  to  say that  she                                                               
appreciates the  sponsor's efforts, but wonders  if Mayor Bronson                                                               
was relying on  the federal COVID funding to develop  a long term                                                               
strategy  to address  shelter  for the  homeless.  She asked  the                                                               
sponsor if she had been in conversations with Mayor Bronson.                                                                    
SENATOR REINBOLD answered  that she had spoken  to Mayor Bronson,                                                               
but on a  different topic. She said the  disaster declaration has                                                               
created a  disaster that  the state may  never recover  from, and                                                               
the entire state should not have to be in a state of emergency                                                                  
to deal with the homeless issue, as important as it is.                                                                         
2:56:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON reviewed the questions the committee posed that                                                                    
require follow up.                                                                                                              
2:57:40 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
2:57:54 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON reconvened the meeting and reviewed the committee                                                                  
CHAIR WILSON held SB 191 in committee.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 191 FN Various 4.29.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 191
SB 191 Sectional 2.28.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 191
SB 191 Sponsor Statement 2.21.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 191
SB 191 Repeal Comm Powers.PDF SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 191
7. HB 392 Research - POLST Signature Requirement by state 3.28.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
8. HB 392 Research - APRN Practice Maps 3.28.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
9. HB 392 LOS since 4.10.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
10. HB 392 Supporting Docs - Adding Physician Assistant 3.28.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
11. HB 392 FN 1 - DOH.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
13. HB 392 version A.PDF SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
HB 392 Explanation of Changes ver. C 5.2.2022.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
HB 392 FN 2 - DCCED.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
HB 392 Sectional Analysis ver. C 5.2.2022.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
HB 392 Sponsor Statement ver. C 5.2.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
1. HB 392 version B.PDF SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
HB 392 vers. C.PDF SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
2. HB 392 Sponsor Statement ver. B 4.19.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
3. HB 392 Sectional Analysis version B 4.19.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
4. HB 392 Summary of Changes ver. A to ver. B.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
5. HB 392 Research - One Pager, 3.28.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
6. HB 392 Research - POLST FAQ 3.28.22.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 392
SB 191 Dr. Zink Letter Dec. 2021.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 191
SB 191 Leg Legal opinion Feb 8, 2022 Emergency Powers Repeal.pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 191
SB 191 Senator Reinbold COVID letter response (2-1-21).pdf SHSS 5/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
SB 191