Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/14/1999 04:00 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 132-TRANSFERRING CERTAIN DEC FUNCTIONS CHAIRMAN HALFORD called the Senate Resources Committee meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. and announced SB 132 to be up for consideration. MR. BRUCE CAMPBELL, aide to Senator Randy Phillips, sponsor of SB 132, proposed to bring possible efficiencies to government by bringing more industries and related food investigations to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). He explained the new committee substitute (CS) before the committee places seafood and food inspections in the Division of Agriculture as is done in all other states. SENATOR MACKIE asked if the Department supports the bill. MR. CAMPBELL said he didn't have anything that looked like complete support from any department at this point in time. SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt the CS to SB 132. There were no objections and it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked if the bill addresses Hatcher Pass. MR. CAMPBELL responded that sections 28 and 33 enable the Mat-Su Borough to fulfill its general land grant entitlement with fringe land in the Hatcher Pass area. SENATOR GREEN asked about the extent of the food inspection. MR. CAMPBELL responded that currently most food inspection is split between the Division of Agriculture and DEC. The bill moves the food inspection function back to the Division of Agriculture. SENATOR GREEN asked if that includes raw food. MR. CAMPBELL answered that includes both, as in most other states. Restaurant inspection is included as well. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked if DEC will still handle inspections of sewer and water systems. MR. CAMPBELL answered yes. Number 70 SENATOR GREEN said one of her constituents questioned the inclusion of bison and reindeer. CHAIRMAN HALFORD added that language on page 2, line 11 says that the Commissioner shall regulate the farming of elk and asked why it doesn't include bison and reindeer that are in captivity now. MR. CAMPBELL responded that it would make little sense for them to be regulated by DEC. CHAIRMAN HALFORD replied that it's because they are doing inspection of the meat. MR. CAMPBELL said he didn't know the history of this legislation. SENATOR MACKIE asked if they are transferring the money as well as the responsibilities. MR. CAMPBELL replied that was the intent of the Senate Finance Committee. SENATOR GREEN said her concern is that this will eventually come out of the Agricultural Revolving Loan Fund (ARLF) funding like the rest of the Division of Agriculture. MS. JANICE ADAIR, Director, Environmental Health, DEC, said that not enough money was going to DNR to fund the transferred functions. Therefore the general fund would supply more of the funds. She explained that reindeer are not listed in this bill because reindeer are domestic animals and DEC has the authority under its general animal authority to deal with them and bison. She thought splitting the authority would cost the State and the regulating authorities more. MR. HERB SIMON, Nilchina, supported SB 132. He said he thought putting the food inspections under DNR would be much more efficient. He said his industry has wanted this consolidation for a long time as it would eliminate a lot of redundancy in terms of staff and people wearing "specialized hats." CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked if he expected to see DEC doing restaurant inspections in rural areas. MR. SIMON answered that he didn't and then said, "If you're gonna move it, move it all over there." CHAIRMAN HALFORD agreed that this bill was a step in the right direction. He still envisions someone else taking water samples, dealing with the sewer system and looking at refrigerator temperatures, etc. He didn't think the people involved have had much incentive to consolidate their activities no matter how much the Legislature tries to consolidate their functions. Number 260 MS. CAROL CARROLL, legislative liaison, DNR, said she was responding to the original bill and asked why they are doing it in the first place if it doesn't save any money and make their jobs easier. She said the Department agrees with the Hatcher Pass public use area section; however, it would like to look at the legal description. SENATOR PARNELL responded that the reason for doing it has to do with the missions of the departments and how they might be better aligned. He asked her if she thought it was more in alignment with DNR or DEC. MS. CARROLL answered that DNR is generally in the development part of the business, not the regulatory part, and would like to keep it that way. SENATOR PARNELL asked her if DNR is not a regulatory department according to its mission. MS. CARROLL answered generally DNR focuses on development. SENATOR PARNELL asked if there is a regulatory component of DNR's mission. MS. CARROLL explained that DNR does permitting and inspections for oil and gas and whenever it does timber and land sales. But, it emphasizes development and revenue generating areas instead of the regulation of customers. Number 350 CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked who is in charge of restaurant dishwashing procedures. MR. CAMPBELL answered that is part of DEC's Title 17.20 regulatory authority. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked who does room inspections. SENATOR MACKIE said he didn't remember anyone doing those; there are bar, kitchen, and dining room inspections. The Fire Marshall would inspect for fire exits. SENATOR LINCOLN said she thought that DNR should have the opportunity to review the CS before it left the committee. SB 132 went from a six page bill to 15 pages and DNR has not had an opportunity to review the Resources version. SENATOR PARNELL moved to pass CSSB 132(RES) from committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR LINCOLN objected. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked for a hand vote. SENATORS HALFORD, KELLY, PARNELL, and MACKIE voted yes; SENATOR LINCOLN voted no.