Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

02/26/2009 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 49 Out of Committee
Moved SB 29 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
              SB  49-BLOOD DONATION AWARENESS FUND                                                                          
9:36:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD announced the consideration of SB 49.                                                                              
9:39:33 AM                                                                                                                    
LESIL MCGUIRE,  Senator, Alaska State Legislature,  sponsor, said                                                               
SB 49 will  help Alaskans help those in need.  Five years ago she                                                               
passed  HB 331  that created  a new  organ and  tissue series  of                                                               
statutes.  It created  the Organ  and  Tissue Donation  Awareness                                                               
program. The idea  came from Life Alaska,  which had difficulties                                                               
raising  money  and  awareness  about   the  gift  of  life.  The                                                               
organization found that  when it could reach  them, Alaskans were                                                               
very  generous.  The  system had  been  disjointed;  people  were                                                               
offering to donate  organs and tissue, but they  didn't know they                                                               
had to  connect into  a registry themselves.  The bill  created a                                                               
system for Alaskans  to sign up when getting  a driver's license,                                                               
and then they were put into  a trackable state system right away.                                                               
It is  a state-of-the-art  system and something  to be  proud of.                                                               
The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) manages it.                                                                                
9:42:16 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MCGUIRE  said some ask if  that is an appropriate  use of                                                               
state money. She  appreciates the hard work of the  DMV. There is                                                               
no  place else  to  house  that database.  "Now  we're asking  to                                                               
expand  that  to  blood donation  awareness."  When  receiving  a                                                               
driver's  license,   Alaskans  are   given  the   opportunity  to                                                               
voluntarily participate in organ  and tissue donation. The intent                                                               
is to add blood donors. It  is voluntary, and a person can remove                                                               
themselves  from the  list at  any time.  A person  is given  the                                                               
chance  to donate  one dollar  to the  Anatomical Gift  Awareness                                                               
Fund.  Last  year it  raised  over  $55,000  for the  purpose  of                                                               
promoting  anatomical  gifting.  The program  facilitates  public                                                               
giving and  provides a service  that would otherwise be  paid for                                                               
out of government  funds. SB 49 creates an  identical program for                                                               
blood donations. Annual blood donations  are not enough to supply                                                               
Alaska's needs.  In 2008  more than  25,000 blood  donations were                                                               
made to the  charitable Blood Bank of Alaska, but  there is still                                                               
not enough  to keep  pace with the  needs. Alaska's  blood supply                                                               
runs on thin  margins. In 2008, Alaska had to  import 1,159 units                                                               
of blood products from the Lower 48 to meet its inventory needs.                                                                
9:45:12 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MCGUIRE  said SB 49  will not be  a silver bullet  but it                                                               
will save Alaskan lives. It is truly a gift of life.                                                                            
SENATOR  KOOKESH  asked if  the  program  qualifies for  the  PFD                                                               
giving program.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR MCGUIRE said that is an excellent idea.                                                                                 
9:46:33 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN said he would support that.                                                                                     
SENATOR  MEYER said  this is  a good  bill, but  he is  concerned                                                               
about the  mechanics. Page 2, line  15, says that money  "may" be                                                               
appropriated by  the legislature  to an organization.  It doesn't                                                               
say "shall". Will the money be appropriated to the right place?                                                                 
SENATOR  MCGUIRE  said funds  cannot  be  dedicated, so  "we  are                                                               
allowed  to say  maybe." She  has  concerns, and  every year  she                                                               
watches over  the organ and  tissue fund  to make sure  the money                                                               
goes to  Life Alaska. The day  will arrive that it  won't happen.                                                               
The fund  is to  promote information about  being a  blood donor,                                                               
"and we hope  that the legislature will continue to  do that, but                                                               
unfortunately because of  our constitution our hands  are tied in                                                               
how we can direct the monies."                                                                                                  
9:48:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD  said anyone who got  a PFD could click  and give to                                                               
their favorite nonprofit. It can be an avenue for this too.                                                                     
SENATOR PASKVAN said  that if the public is asked  to donate to a                                                               
specific cause, the state would hold  the money in trust and make                                                               
distributions as a trustee. This  is not general fund money. That                                                               
is the distinction that he makes as opposed to tax revenues.                                                                    
SENATOR  MCGUIRE said  that is  an interesting  point. The  first                                                               
year there  was $65,000, "and  it hadn't been  appropriated." Her                                                               
office successfully  dislodged that money. Members  of the public                                                               
donated the money for a specific  purpose. If a dedicated fund is                                                               
created under a  trust, it is very likely that  a challenge would                                                               
survive  constitutional muster  for the  reasons Senator  Paskvan                                                               
just  stated. "I  chose  to  create it  this  way  so that  there                                                               
wouldn't be  any confusion or any  challenge, but you bring  up a                                                               
really good  point ... whether we  want to have a  section of the                                                               
statute that  allows the  state to serve  as trustee  for certain                                                               
funds such as this." It is a broader question.                                                                                  
9:51:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MEYER said  unless someone  is watching  this money,  it                                                               
will be used  in the general fund. There are  other programs like                                                               
the  Children's  Trust,  "KID" license  plates.  People  probably                                                               
assume that when they buy those,  that money is going to programs                                                               
for kids.  "I think  we'd find  it's probably  not." This  is the                                                               
only way it can be done because funds can't be dedicated.                                                                       
SENATOR MCGUIRE  said she invites  him to  use his legal  mind to                                                               
think about  it. She would be  open to inserting language  in the                                                               
bill that would  more broadly establish a section  of statute for                                                               
funds held in public trust. She doesn't know the parameters.                                                                    
9:52:41 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MCGUIRE  said  legislation  passed last  year  to  allow                                                               
Alaskans  to make  a donation  while  filing for  their PFD.  She                                                               
doesn't know if the blood bank is on there.                                                                                     
MARGARET BAKER,  Chief Operating  Officer, Blood Bank  of Alaska,                                                               
Anchorage, said  the organization  is on the  PFD donor  list. In                                                               
terms of the bill, she is  aware of the struggle of having enough                                                               
of every  blood type for the  needs of Alaska. The  donor pool is                                                               
always changing. The  blood bank is constantly  trying to replace                                                               
donors  who  stop  giving  and   to  get  repeat  donations.  The                                                               
organization  spends a  lot  of  time and  money  trying to  find                                                               
dedicated  donors  so  the  bank  has enough  blood  to  send  to                                                               
hospitals throughout the  state. The inventory has a  target of a                                                               
five-day  blood  supply.  It  is   really  important  because  of                                                               
Alaska's location.  Blood isn't  always available from  the Lower                                                               
48 and  there may be  transportation problems. The bank  wants to                                                               
be ready to distribute any blood type that is needed.                                                                           
9:56:12 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN  asked if the  PFD donation goes directly  to the                                                               
organization. He  finds it troubling  if someone thinks  they are                                                               
giving a dollar for blood and  it goes to building a road because                                                               
the legislature  thinks it  knows how to  spend that  dollar more                                                               
than the citizen who made the  donation. "I am 100 percent behind                                                               
this, but I don't want the government to get their hands on it."                                                                
9:57:28 AM                                                                                                                    
WHITNEY   BREWSTER,  Director,   Division   of  Motor   Vehicles,                                                               
Anchorage, said  she supports  the spirit of  SB 49  and commends                                                               
Senator  McGuire; however,  she asked  the committee  to consider                                                               
the bill's impact  on DMV and its customers. When  people walk up                                                               
to the  DMV counter, they are  asked if they want  to register to                                                               
vote, then they are asked if they  want to be an organ donor, and                                                               
then  they  are  asked  if  they would  like  to  donate  to  the                                                               
Anatomical Gift  Awareness Fund. This will  require an additional                                                               
question.  Transactions  are  taking   longer  and  longer.  With                                                               
limited state resources,  it is imperative that the  DMV focus on                                                               
its core services and move  people quickly through its doors. She                                                               
is  concerned  about  requiring  the DMV  to  ask  an  additional                                                               
question  to someone  trying to  get a  driver's license.  She is                                                               
concerned  that the  DMV  is  asking for  money  on  behalf of  a                                                               
charitable organization.  And who  is to say  this cause  is more                                                               
important than  another? It  may open  the door  to have  the DMV                                                               
used to  raise funds for other  charities. People want to  get in                                                               
and out of the DMV as quickly as possible.                                                                                      
10:00:55 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. BREWSTER  said the Blood  Bank of Alaska  is on the  PFD list                                                               
for donations,  and that  is a great  location. People  apply for                                                               
the PFD from the  comfort of their home and can  take the time to                                                               
decide  if they  want to  give. Commissioner  Kreitzer asked  the                                                               
directors  to  concentrate on  core  services.  She said  she  is                                                               
committed to working on a solution with Senator McGuire.                                                                        
10:01:54 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR MENARD said  the DMV has an updated list  of addresses, and                                                               
it is tempting to use it.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  MEYER said  Ms. Brewster  brought up  a good  point that                                                               
this is better  as a PFD check-off because of  having to draw the                                                               
line for  other charities. The  DMV has  done a marvelous  job of                                                               
improving customer  relations, and "the  last thing I want  to do                                                               
is slow  you guys  down." But  he thinks  the DMV  is appropriate                                                               
because a lot of blood gets  used for traffic accidents. There is                                                               
no costs for staff on the fiscal  note. There is a cost of $5,000                                                               
to modify the computer system.                                                                                                  
MS. BREWSTER  said the fiscal  note is strictly for  changing the                                                               
DMV database.  It is  difficult to  quantify how  much additional                                                               
time it  will take  to ask  this new  question. This  bill merely                                                               
establishes the  fund for blood  awareness; "it's not  to provide                                                               
any  information  on the  person's  license."  It is  for  asking                                                               
individuals if they want to give to the fund.                                                                                   
10:05:21 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR MEYER  said the DMV is  the only agency that  makes money                                                               
for the state, and it is doing a good job.                                                                                      
SENATOR MCGUIRE  said she appreciates  Ms. Brewster's  hard work.                                                               
The bill does not direct DMV in  how to do this. Ms. Brewster has                                                               
suggested having it  on the website for people  who renew online.                                                               
"Would there be  any value, when you do register  as an organ and                                                               
tissue  donor to  having  any  kind of  a  separate registry  for                                                               
blood?" She  was wondering  about other states  and if  there are                                                               
any benefits to doing it that way.                                                                                              
10:06:48 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  BAKER said  there  is  a benefit  in  knowing  who would  be                                                               
interested  in becoming  a blood  donor. The  bank would  contact                                                               
those people.  It uses  the media  and public  presentations. Any                                                               
new inroad to contact an interested blood donor would be good.                                                                  
CHAIR MENARD asked if other states are doing the same thing.                                                                    
SENATOR MCGUIRE said  other states have awareness  funds and they                                                               
are  always successful.  The check-off  will  be beneficial,  but                                                               
just  last year  alone Life  Alaska generated  $55,000 from  this                                                               
fund.  She noted  the  link to  car accidents  and  the need  for                                                               
organs,  tissue,  and  blood,  and   when  someone  is  asked  to                                                               
participate there  comes an awareness with  that. These donate-a-                                                               
dollar programs have always been wildly successful.                                                                             
10:09:08 AM                                                                                                                   
COLLEEN  BRIDGE,  Administrator, Affiliations  and  Partnerships,                                                               
Providence Hospital,  Anchorage, said  she is a  registered nurse                                                               
and has served on the blood  bank board for ten years. Alaska has                                                               
high quality  health care  in more communities  now. It  is great                                                               
for all  Alaskans and  particularly for  rural residents,  but it                                                               
has  increased the  demand for  blood and  blood components.  The                                                               
Blood Bank of Alaska has  expanded its outreach significantly. It                                                               
has  donation  centers  in Fairbanks,  Soldotna,  Anchorage,  and                                                               
Wasilla, and it has a  mobile donation unit. Repeat donations are                                                               
essential for  hospitals to carry out  their missions. Providence                                                               
believes SB  49 is a very  good bill. Any way  to raise awareness                                                               
about  blood donation  is  great.  Just the  act  of reading  the                                                               
request or  listening to  the person at  DMV highlights  the fact                                                               
that there  is a  non-profit blood center  in Alaska  that serves                                                               
the entire  population. Increasing  awareness is as  important as                                                               
giving the dollar.                                                                                                              
10:12:14 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  MENARD noted  the concern  of a  slippery slope  of adding                                                               
more charities. Alaska has the  most nonprofits per capita in the                                                               
country. The PFD check-off is  new, so she would consider waiting                                                               
a  few years  to see  how  that works.  But she  supports it  100                                                               
percent and  will move it  out of  committee, but she  is nervous                                                               
that other  worthy causes will  make the same request.  She noted                                                               
the link with car accidents and needing blood. It is perplexing.                                                                
SENATOR   MCGUIRE  said   she  understands   and  spoke   of  the                                                               
opportunity to  make people  aware when  they are  renewing their                                                               
commitment to  driving. She  had envisioned  being handed  a card                                                               
that would let  people know where a person can  donate blood. She                                                               
understands the slippery slope.                                                                                                 
10:14:49 AM                                                                                                                   
TIM BENINTENDI, Member,  Blood Bank of Alaska Board  and staff to                                                               
Senator Olson,  said he has been  a regular donor since  1970 and                                                               
has given  about 26  gallons. He  was asked to  be on  the board.                                                               
When things  go well,  people don't  hear about  it. The  bank is                                                               
generally  close  to  having  the blood  it  needs,  but  natural                                                               
disasters and  holiday weekends increase  the need. The  bank has                                                               
to buy blood  from the Lower 48, and that  goes against the grain                                                               
of a  nonprofit. It can  cost hundreds of  dollars for a  unit of                                                               
blood. This promotional vehicle  would help assure getting enough                                                               
blood. This bill  presents a good opportunity.  Others would like                                                               
to  have  that opportunity,  but  organs  and blood  and  traffic                                                               
accidents are  tied closely  together. If a  person needs  a rare                                                               
type of blood, it may not be available in time to help.                                                                         
10:18:14 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  MEYER  moved  to  report   SB  49  from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note(s).  There                                                               
being no objection, SB 49 moved from committee.                                                                                 

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