Legislature(2021 - 2022)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

04/13/2022 01:30 PM Senate LABOR & COMMERCE

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Audio Topic
01:30:45 PM Start
01:32:01 PM Confirmation Hearing(s)
02:03:59 PM Presentation(s): Child Care in Alaska
02:45:30 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= SB 160 FLOOD INSURANCE TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+= SB 232 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF EMPLOYEES TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
*+ SCR 10 ALASKA AEROSPACE DAY TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: TELECONFERENCED
Alaska Worker's Compensation Board -Matthew Barth
Real Estate Commission - Chad Stigen
Board of Dental Examiners - Dominic Wenzell
Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers
- Valery Kudryn
Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives
-Hannah St. George
Board of Architects, Engineers, and Land
Surveyors - Sterling Strait
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Presentation on Child Care in Alaska TELECONFERENCED
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                        
                         April 13, 2022                                                                                         
                           1:30 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                             DRAFT                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Mia Costello, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Joshua Revak, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CONFIRMATION HEARING(S)                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Alaska Worker's Compensation Board                                                                                            
Matthew Barth - Anchorage                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Real Estate Commission                                                                                                        
Chad Stigen - Palmer                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Board of Dental Examiners                                                                                                     
Dominic Wenzell - Girdwood                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers                                                                                     
Valery Kudryn - Wasilla                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives                                                                                      
Hannah St. George - Fairbanks                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Board of Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors                                                                            
Sterling Strait - Anchorage                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION ON CHILD CARE IN ALASKA                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 160                                                                                                             
"An  Act providing  a  premium tax  credit  for flood  insurance;                                                               
relating  to flood  insurance;  relating  to property  insurance;                                                               
establishing  the Alaska  Flood  Authority and  the Alaska  flood                                                               
insurance fund; and providing for an effective date."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 232                                                                                                             
"An  Act providing  a  premium tax  credit  for flood  insurance;                                                               
relating  to flood  insurance;  relating  to property  insurance;                                                               
establishing  the Alaska  Flood  Authority and  the Alaska  flood                                                               
insurance fund; and providing for an effective date."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 10                                                                                             
"An  Act providing  a  premium tax  credit  for flood  insurance;                                                               
relating  to flood  insurance;  relating  to property  insurance;                                                               
establishing  the Alaska  Flood  Authority and  the Alaska  flood                                                               
insurance fund; and providing for an effective date."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAD STIGEN, Appointee                                                                                                          
Real Estate Commission                                                                                                          
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development                                                                      
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified as an  appointee to the Real Estate                                                             
Commission.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
VALERY KUDRYN, Appointee                                                                                                        
Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers                                                                                       
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development                                                                      
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified as  an appointee  to the  Board of                                                             
Certified Real Estate Appraisers.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
STERLING STRAIT, Appointee                                                                                                      
Board of Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors                                                                              
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified as  an appointee  to the  Board of                                                             
Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DOMINIC WENZELL, Appointee                                                                                                      
Board of Dental Examiners                                                                                                       
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development                                                                      
Girdwood, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified as  an appointee  to the  Board of                                                             
Dental Examiners.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
BLUE SHIBLER, Executive Director                                                                                                
Southeast Alaska Association for the Education of Young Children                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT: Delivered  a presentation  on child  care in                                                             
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
STEPHANIE BERGLUND, CEO                                                                                                         
thread                                                                                                                          
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT: Discussed  the  current  situation of  child                                                             
care in Alaska.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:30:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MIA COSTELLO called the  Senate Labor and Commerce Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 1:30  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were Senators Gray-Jackson, Micciche, and Chair Costello.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
^CONFIRMATION HEARING(s)                                                                                                        
                    CONFIRMATION HEARING(s)                                                                                 
                     Real Estate Commission                                                                                 
                   Board of Dental Examiners                                                                                
           Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers                                                                        
       Board of Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:32:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   COSTELLO   announced   the  consideration   of   Governor                                                               
Appointees to  Boards and Commissions.  She asked  the appointees                                                               
to  identify the  board and  seat to  which they  were appointed,                                                               
whether  this  was a  new  or  reappointment, their  professional                                                               
background,  and  their interest  in  serving  on the  particular                                                               
board.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO asked Chad Stigen to offer his testimony.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:33:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAD  STIGEN, Appointee,  Real Estate  Commission, Department  of                                                               
Commerce,  Community and  Economic  Development (DCCED),  Palmer,                                                               
Alaska,  stated that  he was  appointed  to the  broker at  large                                                               
seat, he  had been  licensed since  2014 and  became a  broker in                                                               
2018. He was asked to serve  on the commission and has a specific                                                               
interest  in  protecting consumers  who  are  buying and  selling                                                               
smart homes. He offered his belief  that Alaska ought to create a                                                               
standard procedure  for handing over  smart homes to  ensure that                                                               
licensees  have  the  necessary guidance  to  protect  consumers'                                                               
privacy. He  noted that other states  had done this. He  said his                                                               
broad and  well-rounded experience  in different aspects  of real                                                               
estate should be helpful to the board.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COSTELLO  asked   him  to  provide  more   detail  on  the                                                               
challenges associated with handing over a smart home.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. STIGEN  said he didn't  believe this  was an issue  in Alaska                                                               
yet, but  he has  learned that  there is a  proper way  to ensure                                                               
that once the  real estate transaction is  complete, the previous                                                               
owner no  longer has access  to any of  the smart devices  in the                                                               
home. The  licensees also need  guidance to ensure that  they are                                                               
protected  from  the  liability   associated  with  the  improper                                                               
transfer of smart devices found in  homes. He said he didn't know                                                               
what the  commission could do  about the growing issue  of people                                                               
being recorded  when they're  viewing smart  homes, but  he feels                                                               
that some sort of disclosure would be in order.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO thanked Mr. Stigen  and advised that all the names                                                               
would be forwarded in one batch.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:38:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO asked Valery Kudryn to introduce himself.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:38:24 PM                                                                                                                    
VALERY  KUDRYN,   Appointee,  Board  of  Certified   Real  Estate                                                               
Appraisers,  Department  of   Commerce,  Community  and  Economic                                                               
Development  (DCCED), Wasilla,  Alaska, stated  that he  became a                                                               
certified residential  appraiser in  2010 and  this would  be his                                                               
first  reappointment.   His  primary   goal  in  serving   is  to                                                               
strengthen  the  public  trust  in  appraising  by  updating  the                                                               
certification process  and ensuring common sense  regulations are                                                               
in place.  He said the  board has  been working to  modernize the                                                               
education  requirements  to  reflect   the  trend  toward  online                                                               
instruction. Alaskans particularly  need this flexibility because                                                               
qualifying education credits  are not available in  the state. He                                                               
opined that  his experience as  a residential  appraiser provides                                                               
an  opportunity  for  him  to  relay  the  perspective  of  local                                                               
Alaskans to  the board. He has  enjoyed serving on the  board and                                                               
looks forward to another term, should he be approved.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COSTELLO asked  if it  had been  an issue  that just  four                                                               
members were serving on this five-member board.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. KUDRYN  replied the  general real  estate appraiser  seat has                                                               
been vacant, but it  has not been an issue for  the board to meet                                                               
the quorum requirement and move forward on agenda items.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:41:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE  noted  that   the  administration  was  having                                                               
trouble finding qualified  people to serve on  the various boards                                                               
and commissions.  He said he'd  like some feedback  to understand                                                               
what might make this type of service more attractive.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. KUDRYN said  he hadn't thought about that but  in his case, a                                                               
former boss suggested  this service might be  a good opportunity.                                                               
He was asked to  serve and agreed to do so as a  way to give back                                                               
in general and  to the appraisal industry  specifically. His only                                                               
experience with  board meetings was  through Zoom, and  he wasn't                                                               
sure how he'd  feel if he had  to devote a lot of  travel time to                                                               
attend meetings.  He said  the appraisal  industry had  been very                                                               
busy during the  pandemic and the work schedule  had been taxing.                                                               
That  might be  part  of the  problem with  the  vacancy on  this                                                               
board, but he wasn't sure about how other boards were affected.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COSTELLO  thanked  Mr.  Kudryn  for  appearing  and  being                                                               
willing to serve.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:44:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COSTELLO asked  Sterling Strait  to introduce  himself and                                                               
share  his  interest  in  serving on  the  Board  of  Architects,                                                               
Engineers, and Land Surveyors.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:45:01 PM                                                                                                                    
STERLING STRAIT,  Appointee, Board of Architects,  Engineers, and                                                               
Land Surveyors,  Department of  Commerce, Community  and Economic                                                               
Development  (DCCED),  Anchorage, Alaska,  stated  that  he is  a                                                               
structural engineer who  has worked in the  engineering field for                                                               
nearly  15 years.  He was  appointed  on 03/01/2022  to fill  the                                                               
civil engineer seat. His interest  in serving on this board stems                                                               
from being raised to give back,  so he has always looked for ways                                                               
to give  back to his  community through his profession.  He hopes                                                               
to  help guide  the  future  of engineering  in  Alaska and  help                                                               
future  engineers learn  about the  licensing  process. He  looks                                                               
forward to serving.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO  said her  personal passion is  to "grow  our own"                                                               
engineers in Alaska.  She asked if he was an  employee of Alyeska                                                               
Pipeline Service Company.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. STRAIT answered that's correct.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO asked  what he sees as the  main challenges facing                                                               
architects, engineers, and land surveyors.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. STRAIT replied that as it  becomes more difficult to obtain a                                                               
license  in  these fields,  he  worries  that it  may  eventually                                                               
affect the supply of engineers  and other licensed professionals.                                                               
Another  concern is  that as  the world  becomes more  connected,                                                               
there  is an  increased  likelihood that  engineering for  Alaska                                                               
projects  may be  done outside  the  state and  perhaps in  other                                                               
countries.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Responding to Senator Micciche's  question about how to encourage                                                               
people to serve on boards and  commissions, he said that from the                                                               
board's standpoint the application  process is an impediment. The                                                               
board hears from people who have  applied to serve but they never                                                               
hear from the administration.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO  thanked him  for being willing  to serve  and for                                                               
sharing that  perspective so the  legislature can do what  it can                                                               
to keep the lines of communication open.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MICCICHE said he had heard  that too and he would support                                                               
providing  additional  help  to   the  department  and  for  this                                                               
committee to hold discussions about improving the process.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COSTELLO explained  that the  process is  run through  the                                                               
governor's office and  she would be willing to talk  to the Third                                                               
Floor to look for a path forward.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:52:07 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE  commented  on the  destabilizing  effect  when                                                               
single  term  governors  politicize   membership  on  boards  and                                                               
commissions.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO thanked Mr. Strait for being willing to serve.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:53:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO asked Dominic Wenzell  to tell the committee about                                                               
his interest in serving on the Board of Dental Examiners.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:53:36 PM                                                                                                                    
DOMINIC   WENZELL,   Appointee,   Board  of   Dental   Examiners,                                                               
Department  of  Commerce,   Community  and  Economic  Development                                                               
(DCCED),   Girdwood,  Alaska,   stated   that   he  applied   for                                                               
reappointment  to the  Board of  Dental  Examiners. He  recounted                                                               
that he graduated in 2003  from Oregon Health Sciences University                                                               
with a doctorate  and moved to Alaska shortly  thereafter to work                                                               
in a children's clinic in  Kenai. He referenced the comment about                                                               
politicizing  membership on  boards and  commissions and  relayed                                                               
his experience with the Alaska  Dental Society working to resolve                                                               
issues before they become an official  complaint. He said he is a                                                               
proponent of  patient protection  through self-regulation  of the                                                               
dental  profession.  As  such,  he  is  in  the  final  stage  of                                                               
developing a penalty  matrix that investigators can  rely on when                                                               
dentists have to go before the board.  He noted that he is also a                                                               
dental  licensing  examiner for  CDCA  and  ADEX. He  offered  to                                                               
answer any questions.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:56:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO asked  what he sees as the  main challenges facing                                                               
the board.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR WENZELL said the investigation  process takes too long. When a                                                               
complaint  is  forwarded  for   investigation,  the  board  hears                                                               
nothing until the  matter is resolved, and that can  take a year.                                                               
Meanwhile, the dentist is still  practicing. This is a problem if                                                               
the  complaint was  related  to patient  care  and the  dentist's                                                               
skill  level.   He  said   his  preference   would  be   for  the                                                               
investigation to  be done more  quickly so the dentist  gets help                                                               
in the area that is needed and patients are protected.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO  responded that she  takes this seriously  and her                                                               
plan  is  for  her  office  to  follow  up  to  ensure  that  the                                                               
department conducts its investigations  timely so that complaints                                                               
are resolved more quickly. She  highlighted that boards are self-                                                               
regulating and  the licensee fees  pay for any  investigations so                                                               
it can be significant for a profession to have a bad actor.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR WENZELL said he agreed completely.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO  thanked Mr.  Wenzell for  being willing  to serve                                                               
and taking time to appear before the committee.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:00:52 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:03:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COSTELLO   reconvened  the  meeting,  and   opened  public                                                               
testimony on  the governor appointees  to boards  and commissions                                                               
that the  committee heard  from today.  Finding none,  she closed                                                               
public testimony on the foregoing appointees.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
^PRESENTATION(S):  Child Care in Alaska                                                                                         
             PRESENTATION(S):  Child Care in Alaska                                                                         
                                                                                                                              
2:03:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO announced  the next order of business  was to hear                                                               
presentations  from Blue  Shibler and  Stephanie Berglund  on the                                                               
status of child  care in Alaska. She conveyed  that the committee                                                               
heard  from a  variety of  professionals in  the field  about the                                                               
challenges of finding  people willing to work in  child care, the                                                               
lack of availability, and the high cost for parents.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:05:08 PM                                                                                                                    
BLUE  SHIBLER, Executive  Director, Southeast  Alaska Association                                                               
for the  Education of Young Children  (AEYC-Sea), Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
stated that she had worked in  the child care field for 20 years,                                                               
the last 10  years of which she owned and  operated the Discovery                                                               
Preschool adjacent to  the Capitol Building. She  said she wanted                                                               
to  talk about  her  experience working  in  multiple roles.  Her                                                               
first  job was  with the  Juneau  Montessori School  and she  was                                                               
dismayed to  learn that  she couldn't  live on  the wage  she was                                                               
earning for  this very important  work in human  development. She                                                               
said it's unfortunate, but that dichotomy still exists.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:06:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. SHIBLER  mentioned the current workforce  shortage across all                                                               
fields and  posited that  the lack of  affordable child  care for                                                               
working families  was a large  part of  the problem. She  cited a                                                               
recent study published  by the Department of  Labor and Workforce                                                               
Development (DOLWD) that  found that in March  2022, 12.9 percent                                                               
of Alaskans  with children under  age 5  had to work  fewer hours                                                               
that month  due to  issues associated with  child care,  and five                                                               
percent  of  those  families  had  to quit  a  job  because  they                                                               
couldn't find affordable child care.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SHIBLER highlighted  that when  she  operated the  Discovery                                                               
Preschool,  she   found  it  disheartening  to   learn  that  the                                                               
custodians  the state  paid to  clean the  center earned  several                                                               
dollars more per  hour than her highest paid  lead teacher. Those                                                               
custodians also  enjoyed state  benefits that  she was  unable to                                                               
offer to her  employees. She said she believes that  it's the low                                                               
wages  that  explain  the  market  failure of  child  care  as  a                                                               
business, not  just in  Alaska but across  the nation.  She noted                                                               
that the  DOLWD study  she previously  mentioned also  found that                                                               
nearly one-fifth  of Alaska's child  care facilities  have closed                                                               
since March 2020, due in part to the lack of workers.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SHIBLER said  the  child  care industry  is  at an  impasse.                                                               
Families are unable to pay  higher tuition and the tuition, which                                                               
is  the   sole  source   of  revenue   for  most   providers,  is                                                               
insufficient for  providers to  pay wages  that will  attract and                                                               
retain quality teachers.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:09:29 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. SHIBLER  said child care  is an  integral pillar of  a robust                                                               
economy  and  the  long-term success  of  Alaska's  children.  It                                                               
therefore needs  to be a  top priority for  the state to  build a                                                               
stable early-learning  system that ensures every  parent can find                                                               
affordable and quality child care.  She said the Alaska Reads Act                                                               
is an important step towards that  priority, but it's now time to                                                               
recognize  the  critical  role  that  child  care  plays  in  the                                                               
economy.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COSTELLO requested  her remarks  in writing  if they  were                                                               
available. She  then asked for  her perspective of  what families                                                               
pay per month per child.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHIBLER  said it varies  throughout the state but  on average                                                               
it's about  $1,000 per month per  child. She added that  there is                                                               
research that shows that the  difference between what parents can                                                               
afford to  pay and what it  actually costs to provide  child care                                                               
is close to $500 per month.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COSTELLO  asked  what  a   child  care  worker  in  Alaska                                                               
typically earns per month.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SHIBLER answered  that the  starting wage  is a  little more                                                               
than $10 per hour.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COSTELLO  asked if  the  workers  she hired  at  Discovery                                                               
Preschool worked for eight hours per day.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHIBLER  explained that the  employees work eight  hours, but                                                               
the center  is open for  10 hours so there  has to be  more staff                                                               
than one  might realize.  She shared  that personnel  costs often                                                               
were up to 60 percent of expenses.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:13:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GRAY-JACKSON asked  if  child care  workers receive  any                                                               
benefits, health care in particular.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SHIBLER  said benefits  are  very  rare  and when  they  are                                                               
provided  the  program is  generally  employer  sponsored so  the                                                               
child  care worker  becomes  an employee  of  that business.  She                                                               
cited Credit Union 1 and Providence Hospital as examples.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MICCICHE commented  that the wage may be  survivable in a                                                               
two parent home, but it's less  feasible for a single parent with                                                               
a couple of  children to pay $24,000 per year  for child care. He                                                               
said he  hadn't thought  about that impact  on the  workforce but                                                               
it's real.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:14:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  SHIBLER agreed  and added  that it's  a worst  case scenario                                                               
when parents  have to choose  child care  based on what  they can                                                               
afford as opposed to what is the best fit for their family.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MICCICHE calculated that parents  need full time care for                                                               
infants until age 5 at which  time afterschool care is needed. He                                                               
asked it the $1,000 per month  per child estimate is for fulltime                                                               
care.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHIBLER answered yes.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MICCICHE asked  for  the  cost of  care  for school  age                                                               
children.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHIBLER  said that in Juneau  it's about $800 per  person per                                                               
month for before- and after-school care.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MICCICHE asked if age  12-14 typically was the cutoff for                                                               
before- and after-school care.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHIBLER said  she believes that many parents  allow their 10-                                                               
12 year old  children to go home by themselves  after school. She                                                               
noted that  the Rally  program manager in  Juneau said  that very                                                               
few fifth graders attend Rally.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:17:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE asked  if  there had  been a  study  on what  a                                                               
family spends on child care over the  life of a child. He said he                                                               
was trying to figure out what  it will take to attract and retain                                                               
child care  workers, although it's  clear that the cost  of child                                                               
care  is  already  too  expensive  for  families  that  are  just                                                               
starting out.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHIBLER  stated that  a number of  studies show  that Alaskan                                                               
families  spend between  12 and  20 percent  of their  income for                                                               
child  care, whereas  the national  recommendation is  that child                                                               
care should  cost no more  than six  or seven percent  of income.                                                               
Responding to the  question about the sweet spot  to retain child                                                               
care  providers,  she  said  other  states  have  made  a  public                                                               
investment into  the system  and child care  providers move  up a                                                               
career ladder  and pay scale  based on education  and experience.                                                               
She  highlighted   that  Alaska  has  the   foundation  of  those                                                               
programs.  The  City  of  Juneau  has  such  a  program  that  is                                                               
administered by AEYC, and thread  has the foundational support to                                                               
start something similar statewide.  That program manages a career                                                               
ladder  in which  child care  professionals can  participate. She                                                               
suggested the members ask the next presenter about that program.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MICCICHE  asked how  pre-K fits  into the  equation, when                                                               
and where it's available.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHIBLER  answered that  the public  pre-K programs  in Juneau                                                               
use child  care to provide  wraparound service. The  children are                                                               
in child  care before  and after  they go  to the  pre-K program.                                                               
It's part  of what is referred  to as a mixed  delivery system of                                                               
early learning.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:21:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COSTELLO  asked  how  COVID-19  affected  the  child  care                                                               
workforce  since many  parents were  able to  work from  home and                                                               
their children stayed home too.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHIBLER answered  that in Juneau there has been  a decline in                                                               
child  care enrollment  of children  ages 3-5,  but working  from                                                               
home  and having  your  children there  too  probably isn't  best                                                               
practice for either  and overall won't affect the  need for child                                                               
care.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO asked  what her experience was  with waitlists for                                                               
child care.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SHIBLER replied  every  program in  Juneau  has a  waitlist,                                                               
primarily  for infants  and toddlers.  During the  time that  she                                                               
operated Discovery Preschool,  which was up to the  fall of 2020,                                                               
she had an average of 100  families on the waitlist at all times.                                                               
She acknowledged  that the waitlists  in Juneau  probably weren't                                                               
that large currently, but close.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO  asked if  the Department  of Labor  and Workforce                                                               
Development (DOLWD) keeps information on waitlists.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SHIBLER  answered that  she  didn't  believe waitlists  were                                                               
tracked, but child care licensing tracks license capacity.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO  thanked her  for the  information and  taking the                                                               
time to inform the committee.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO asked Stephanie Berglund  to provide her testimony                                                               
and to feel free to respond to any questions she'd heard today.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:25:08 PM                                                                                                                    
STEPHANIE BERGLUND,  CEO, thread, Anchorage, Alaska,  stated that                                                               
thread  is  a  35-year-old  nonprofit  child  care  resource  and                                                               
referral organization that works  statewide to increase access to                                                               
affordable and quality early care  and education, with a specific                                                               
focus on child care. She  said thread strongly supports expanding                                                               
pre-K as  a way  to increase access  to affordable  quality child                                                               
care in Alaska.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. BERGLUND relayed that she  recently read an article about the                                                               
federal infrastructure bill and the  funding that is expected for                                                               
projects in Alaska that mentioned  the concern about developing a                                                               
workforce to tackle  the projects. She said her  thought was that                                                               
the people  working on these projects  would not be able  to find                                                               
child care. Child  care is a critical  infrastructure that allows                                                               
all other  work to happen, but  the system is underfunded  and in                                                               
need  of public  investment.  Investing public  funds to  support                                                               
this sector is needed to  support Alaskans returning to work post                                                               
pandemic  and  to  grow  a  stronger  Alaska.  She  stressed  the                                                               
importance  of  treating  child  care  as a  vital  part  of  the                                                               
economy.  Prior to  the pandemic,  child care  was in  crisis and                                                               
access  was  out  of  reach  for many  families.  This  has  been                                                               
exacerbated over the  last two years. She said  bold policies are                                                               
needed to support working families  and child care programs. This                                                               
means  investing  in this  critical  infrastructure  now and  for                                                               
years to come.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:27:36 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BERGLUND  stated that the  three pillars needed for  a strong                                                               
child  care sector  are access,  affordability, and  quality. She                                                               
described access  as the supply  of child care needed  to support                                                               
families with the  care they need, and highlighted  that the pre-                                                               
COVID-19  2020 Early  Learning Economic  Impact Report  said that                                                               
access to  child care was  getting more difficult  across Alaska.                                                               
She said thread  is monitoring the demand for child  care and how                                                               
the changes  in how  people work  affect supply  needs. It  was a                                                               
short term  solution early in  the pandemic when  people switched                                                               
to working from  home and were able to bring  their children home                                                               
too, but  it was not  sustainable. Now thread's  referral service                                                               
is hearing from families that cannot  find the care they need and                                                               
big businesses that are saying  that their workforce is unable to                                                               
access care. In  just the last six months thread  is hearing more                                                               
from families that are unable to  work, largely because of a lack                                                               
child care. This  leads to slower economic  growth, which affects                                                               
everyone, whether they have children or not.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:29:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BERGLUND stated that the  State Chamber partnered with thread                                                               
this past fall  to conduct a U.S. Chamber  of Commerce Foundation                                                               
family  survey to  understand the  intersection  of business  and                                                               
child care during the pandemic.  Some of the highlights were that                                                               
more than 75  percent of the parents that  were surveyed reported                                                               
missing work  due to  child care issues;  36 percent  of families                                                               
were postponing  higher education and  training due to a  lack of                                                               
child care;  seven percent had left  their job due to  child care                                                               
issues; and  that the  Alaska economy  had an  untapped potential                                                               
due to  the inability  to meet families'  child care  needs. This                                                               
translated to an annual economic loss of $165 million.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:31:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BERGLUND  reported that  in  2019  families were  paying  17                                                               
percent of their  household income for child  care, although some                                                               
single parents  were paying  over 34  percent of  their household                                                               
income. For families  with two children their  average child care                                                               
expense exceeded the cost of  housing. In 2020 the average annual                                                               
cost  for child  care  was  $12,000 for  infants  and $9,000  for                                                               
preschoolers. In  Alaska, this is  more than the cost  of college                                                               
tuition. During  the pandemic families left  employment or worked                                                               
reduced hours, which made child care even less affordable.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:32:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BERGLUND directed  attention to the video  she submitted that                                                               
talks  about  a family  with  three  children that  paid  $36,000                                                               
annually  for  child  care.  The  current  system  isn't  working                                                               
because  the  cost  is  too  high  for  parents  and  child  care                                                               
businesses are barely  making ends meet when they  rely on family                                                               
tuition alone. This is why  more public and private investment is                                                               
needed.  Most child  care  programs  in the  state  are open  but                                                               
because of a  workforce shortage they are not able  to operate at                                                               
full  capacity. These  positions  are  particularly difficult  to                                                               
fill  because the  competition for  workers is  high, child  care                                                               
professionals generally earn less than  $25,000 a year, and these                                                               
jobs  generally have  no benefits.  To help  address this  crisis                                                               
situation,  thread  is  working  through  the  System  for  Early                                                               
Education and Development (SEED) and  using COVID relief funds to                                                               
offer  a wage  stipend.  It is  noteworthy  that early  educators                                                               
report  spending the  stipend on  health care  and mental  health                                                               
benefits.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. BERGLUND said  another difficulty is that there is  a lack of                                                               
respect  for  child care  professionals.  They  are often  called                                                               
babysitters when they are actually  responsible for preparing the                                                               
youngest  Alaskans  for  school   and  beyond.  The  human  brain                                                               
develops 90 percent  by age five, so it is  in this critical time                                                               
that  child care  professionals are  building key  foundations of                                                               
development, including  early literacy  and social  and emotional                                                               
development.  This  important  workforce needs  respect  and  the                                                               
compensation it deserves.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. BERGLUND  said the number  one indicator of quality  in child                                                               
care  is the  teacher, and  today they  are exhausted  and poorly                                                               
paid.  The stress  this  causes results  in  high turnover,  poor                                                               
continuity,  and  lower  quality  of  care  for  young  children.                                                               
Quality  child  care  is  licensed  and  regulated,  it  supports                                                               
stronger  families,  and has  demonstrated  short  and long  term                                                               
benefits  for young  children.  This  includes stronger  language                                                               
development, higher  high school graduation rates,  and increased                                                               
long term health. Children who  receive a strong start save money                                                               
in the short and long term  on many of the social challenges that                                                               
the state  is facing  today. Unfortunately,  many of  the poorest                                                               
families  cannot afford  access  to child  care, despite  studies                                                               
that show  that those  most in  need benefit  the most.  She said                                                               
even  fewer families  have  access to  high  quality child  care.                                                               
Those programs  that participate in  Learn and Grow  are Alaska's                                                               
Quality Recognition and Improvement  System (QRIS). Currently, 35                                                               
percent of eligible programs are  participating in Learn and Grow                                                               
and  with  more  public  investment,  it  would  be  possible  to                                                               
increase the  number of programs  participating and  would result                                                               
in  stronger child  outcomes. When  programs follow  high-quality                                                               
standards, the  result is education that  is more developmentally                                                               
appropriate,  stronger child  care  workforce support,  increased                                                               
family  engagement, and  curriculum led  instruction tailored  to                                                               
meet  the individual  cognitive, social,  and emotional  needs of                                                               
all children.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. BERGLUND stressed the need  for different ways to support and                                                               
solve the child care needs in  Alaska. She said the federal COVID                                                               
relief earmarked to  support child care is short  term and thread                                                               
believes  it will  be insufficient  to stabilize  the child  care                                                               
sector  in Alaska.  Thread estimates  that child  care needs  $10                                                               
million  per  month to  survive  post-COVID.  She noted  that  in                                                               
December, 51 percent  of child care programs  reported they might                                                               
close in the next 6-12 months.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
She said  access to affordable  and quality child  care pre-COVID                                                               
was a  struggle and the focus  now should be to  strengthen child                                                               
care so that is thriving,  sustaining, and more equitable. Thread                                                               
sees  great potential  from public  investment to  strengthen and                                                               
support child care that will benefit all Alaska.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BERGLUND  stated that  thread  has  endorsed HB  149,  which                                                               
supports creation of a child care  trust fund. This would help to                                                               
address many of the current  challenges and create the first step                                                               
in needed new public investment in  child care. She said the time                                                               
to act is  now to set a stronger trajectory  of success by invest                                                               
upstream in early childhood and child  care. It will be a win for                                                               
government, businesses, families and young children.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO thanked Ms. Berglund  and said she would make sure                                                               
the members received a copy of the video.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:39:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE mentioned  his interest in the  child care trust                                                               
fund bill.  He asked if there  was any data on  the difference in                                                               
the educational  outcomes between children  who stay home  with a                                                               
parent versus  children who  go to  daycare because  both parents                                                               
are working.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. BERGLUND  replied there isn't  a lot of  Alaska-specific data                                                               
but  she would  provide some  of the  many national  studies that                                                               
demonstrate that children  who have access to  high quality child                                                               
care  experiences  and  early  learning  opportunities  are  more                                                               
prepared for  school and  do well  throughout their  lifetime. In                                                               
Alaska, just  one in six children  have access to child  care and                                                               
according to  the Department of  Education and  Early Development                                                               
(DEED)  benchmarks, only  31 percent  of children  are considered                                                               
prepared  to  enter  school.  She   added  that  thread  strongly                                                               
believes  that a  parent is  a child's  first and  most important                                                               
teacher,  so  it's about  getting  support  at  home and  in  the                                                               
community to ensure that children are prepared to enter school.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:42:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE said he looked forward to receiving the data.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO  asked Ms. Berglund  to talk about  the importance                                                               
of flexible  working hours for  parents. She noted that  the U.S.                                                               
Chamber  of  Commerce survey  showed  that  parents ranked  state                                                               
governments  that  had  flexible  work hours  as  number  two  in                                                               
importance.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:43:31 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BERGLUND said  the  report emphasizes  that  the best  thing                                                               
employers and businesses can do is  to be as flexible and provide                                                               
as many  family-friendly benefits  as possible.  She acknowledged                                                               
that it's not feasible in all work situations.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COSTELLO  thanked  her  for   taking  time  to  share  the                                                               
information with the committee.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:45:30 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Costello  adjourned the Senate Labor  and Commerce Standing                                                               
Committee meeting at 2:45 p.m.                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Matthew Barth Application_Redacted.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEES
Matthew Barth Resume_Redacted.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEES
Chad Stigen Application_Redacted.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEES
Dominic Wenzell Board Application_Redacted.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEES
Dominic Wenzell Resume_Redacted.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEES
Valery Kudryn Application_Redacted.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEES
Valery Kudryn Resume_Redacted.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEES
Hannah St. George Application_Redacted.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEES
Sterling Strait Board Application_Redacted.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEES
Early-Care-and-Learning-in-Alaska-Report.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
Child Care Presentation
US Chamber of Commerce - Untapped Potential in AK.pdf SL&C 4/13/2022 1:30:00 PM
Child Care Presentation