Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/04/1998 08:05 AM House CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        HOUSE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS                                   
                 STANDING COMMITTEE                                            
                   March 4, 1998                                               
                     8:05 a.m.                                                 
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
Representative Ivan Ivan, Chairman                                             
Representative Fred Dyson                                                      
Representative Joe Ryan                                                        
Representative Jerry Sanders                                                   
Representative Albert Kookesh                                                  
Representative Reggie Joule (via teleconference)                               
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
Representative Scott Ogan                                                      
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
* HOUSE BILL NO. 401                                                           
"An Act relating to contracts for the provision of state public                
assistance to certain recipients in the state; providing for                   
regional public assistance plans and programs in the state;                    
relating to grants for Alaska tribal family assistance programs;               
and providing for an effective date."                                          
     - MOVED HB 401 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                           
* HOUSE BILL NO. 365                                                           
"An Act relating to municipal service areas and providing for voter            
approval of the formation, alteration, or abolishment of certain               
service areas."                                                                
     - BILL HEARING CANCELLED                                                  
(* First public hearing)                                                       
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                
BILL: HB 401                                                                   
SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                   
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                          
 2/12/98      2308     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                  
 2/12/98      2308     (H)  C&RA, HES, FINANCE                                 
 2/12/98      2308     (H)  ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DHSS)                            
 2/12/98      2308     (H)  GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                      
 3/04/98               (H)  CRA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 124                        
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
JAY LIVEY, Deputy Commissioner                                                 
Department of Health and Social Services                                       
P.O. Box 110601                                                                
Juneau, Alaska 99811                                                           
Telephone:  (907) 465-3030                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 401 on behalf of the Governor.               
KRISTEN BOMENGEN, Assistant Attorney General                                   
Human Services Section                                                         
Civil Division                                                                 
Department of Law                                                              
P.O. Box 110300                                                                
Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300                                                      
Telephone:  (907) 465-3600                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions pertaining to HB 401.                  
BOB CHARLES, Vice President                                                    
Association of Village Council Presidents                                      
P.O. Box 219                                                                   
Bethel, Alaska 99559                                                           
Telephone:  (907) 543-3521                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 401.                                      
TERRY HOEFFERLE                                                                
Chief of Operations                                                            
Bristol Bay Native Association                                                 
P.O. Box 310                                                                   
Dillingham, Alaska 99576                                                       
Telephone:  (907) 842-5257                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 401.                                      
DON SHIRCEL, Director                                                          
Family Services                                                                
Tanana Chiefs Conference                                                       
P.O. Box 75014                                                                 
Fairbanks, Alaska 99707                                                        
Telephone:  (907) 452-8251                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support HB 401.                              
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
TAPE 98-13, SIDE A                                                             
Number 0001                                                                    
CHAIRMAN IVAN IVAN called the House Community and Regional Affairs             
Standing Committee meeting to order at 8:05 a.m.  Members present              
at the call to order were Representatives Ivan, Dyson, Sanders and             
Kookesh.  Representative Joule participated via teleconference.                
Representative Ryan arrived at 8:10 a.m.                                       
HB 401 - STATE/REG'L/TRIBAL FAMILY ASS'T PROGRAMS                              
Number 0059                                                                    
CHAIRMAN IVAN announced the committee would address HB 401, "An Act            
relating to contracts for the provision of state public assistance             
to certain recipients in the state; providing for regional public              
assistance plans and programs in the state; relating to grants for             
Alaska tribal family assistance programs; and providing for an                 
effective date," sponsored by the Governor.                                    
Number 0111                                                                    
JAY LIVEY, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Health and Social                
Services, came before the committee to explain HB 401.  He informed            
the committee he would review the legal background of why the bill             
was introduced.  He stated when federal welfare reform was passed              
by Congress last year, it established a process by which Alaska                
Native regional nonprofit corporations could, if they wished, apply            
to the federal government and receive authorization to administer              
welfare programs within their regions.  He pointed out that as part            
of that process, the regional corporations would be able to receive            
from the federal government the equivalent amount of federal funds             
that the state spent on those tribal members during 1994.                      
Essentially, what the bill did was it established a block grant by             
which federal money that the state was getting now would go to the             
regional Native corporations on behalf of welfare recipients in                
that region.  Mr. Livey stated the problem with this process is                
that the federal law only established a way for the regional                   
corporations to get the federal share of the welfare expenditure.              
That only makes up part of what is currently being spent within                
these regions.  The other part of the money that is being spent out            
there comes from the state.  Mr. Livey informed the committee                  
members that HB 401 establishes a process by which state money can             
also get out to those regional corporations that are providing                 
welfare programs, so that they can essentially have a complete                 
Number 0278                                                                    
MR. LIVEY said that after the passage of the federal welfare law,              
which allowed this process to occur, the state spent some time                 
sitting with representatives of the regional nonprofit                         
corporations.  He said that during that process they discussed how             
this mechanism would occur and some of the principles under which              
they thought this process would be most useful.   Mr. Livey said he            
would review those principles.  First, most representatives of the             
state and the regional corporations want to promote self-                      
sufficiency in rural Alaska.  Everybody understands that welfare               
reform is going to be difficult in rural Alaska and he believes                
both the state and regional nonprofit corporations recognize that              
it has to move forward there as well as other parts of the state.              
Mr. Lively said secondly, they also wanted to promote flexibility              
in the self-sufficiency strategy.  He said they recognize that                 
regional corporations have a unique view of the economies and the              
skills of the individuals in their areas and that they can do a                
better job than the state of designing programs that will work                 
specifically for those areas.  Third, they wanted to assure                    
efficient management of programs that both the state and the                   
regional nonprofit corporations administer.  Fourth, they wanted to            
discourage disparity in benefit levels for similarly situated                  
Alaskans.  He said they didn't want two Alaskans living next to                
each other receiving significantly different benefits and services.            
Mr. Livey stated that finally they needed to address some of the               
issues related to the state of Alaska delegating authority to                  
regional nonprofit corporations.                                               
Number 0421                                                                    
MR. LIVEY said he would talk about how the process of the bill                 
works.  He pointed out that the committee should have a document               
with a flow chart which addresses the process of how the bill                  
actually functions.  Mr. Lively stated if HB 401 were to become                
law, it would set up a process by which a regional nonprofit                   
corporation would send to the department their proposed tribal                 
assistance plan.  The department would then review that plan based             
on several standards.  The first standard has to do with the                   
services that the regional nonprofit corporation proposes to                   
provide.  Mr. Livey pointed out that HB 401 gives the commissioner             
of the Department of Health and Social Services the authority to               
determine if the regional nonprofit corporation service area                   
provides a reasonable pattern of service delivery.  He said, "We               
wanted to make sure that we were going to be able to meld the state            
program and the regional [nonprofit] corporations together                     
reasonably for efficiency of administration."  Mr. Livey referred              
to the tribal plan and said if it is going to be eligible to                   
receive state money it must contain five service provisions which              
are also found in the state welfare law.  Those provisions are that            
there must be a dependent child in the household in order for the              
household to receive public assistance money.  Secondly, the                   
payment amount the regional nonprofit corporation would provide                
cannot exceed the state amount.  Third, a minor parent must live               
with an appropriate adult supervised setting or with their parents.            
Fourth, all able bodied participants must work.  He noted it                   
doesn't have to be cash work but it has to be work in some way of              
contributing back to the community.  Lastly, the participants must             
comply with child support.  Mr. Livey stated that once the tribal              
assistance plan meets those two conditions, then that plan is                  
eligible to receive, through a grant, state funds for the                      
provisions of public assistance services.  He pointed out that the             
state grants fill out the tribal assistance program.  With the                 
tribal assistance program, the regional nonprofit corporation is               
available to receive the federal money directly which would give               
them the rest of the money they need to provide the program and                
make it whole.                                                                 
Number 0636                                                                    
MR. LIVEY stated, "There is one more issue in this bill that we                
should mention and that is that it may be that in areas within the             
regional [nonprofit] corporation that there will be non-Natives who            
will be eligible to receive public assistance services.  When we               
talked to the regional [nonprofit] corporations about this issue,              
we determined that the best thing to do would be to have the                   
regional [nonprofit] corporation provide the services to those non-            
tribal members.  There are generally a few members, they may be                
scattered throughout the region.  It didn't make sense for the                 
department and for the state to have to maintain a program just to             
serve those few individuals."  Mr. Livey stated that in that case              
they would contract with the regional nonprofit corporation and                
send them both the federal and state share of money required to                
serve those individuals.  He noted those individuals would be                  
served with the tribal regional nonprofit corporation benefit                  
package.  That seemed to make sense in terms of two of their                   
principles, one of which was that they wanted to have individuals              
living in the same economic situation - same region - same                     
community, to receive the same benefit package.  Secondly, they                
wanted to have an efficient administrative process.                            
Number 0728                                                                    
MR. LIVEY pointed out that the department sees three major benefits            
if HB 401 were to pass.  First, the department believes that                   
welfare reform will be more successful because welfare services                
will be designed specifically for conditions within the region.                
Secondly, it will be to the benefit of the state to partner with               
regional nonprofit corporations, many of whom already have fairly              
sophisticated employment training systems established.  Mr. Livey              
referred to the third benefit and said we have regional nonprofit              
corporations as local providers who are willing to step forward and            
take on some of the responsibilities from the state for welfare                
reform services.                                                               
Number 0797                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS asked if there is a provision in the              
legislation that would reduce payments over time.  He asked how                
long people can draw welfare.                                                  
MR. LIVEY responded that in most parts of the state, people can be             
on assistance for 60 months.  He noted there is nothing in the                 
current state welfare reform law which essentially phases out the              
benefit.  However, if a regional nonprofit corporation wished to               
structure their program to do that, under HB 401 they would have               
the freedom to be able to do that.  He stated that there is                    
currently nothing in state law or in the state's welfare program               
that requires that kind of a phase-out.                                        
Number 0862                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS stated that he believes that you have to                
have a phase-out.  It will be no better to drop them off five years            
from now than it would be to drop them off today.  Representative              
Sanders explained that a concern he has is they must have a                    
dependent child in the household.  He stated it is his firm belief             
that this will lead to more households with dependent children.  If            
the choice is to either get off the welfare system or get a                    
dependent child in the household, he believes a lot of people are              
going to make that conscious choice and get some dependent children            
within a year.  Representative Sanders referred to the statement               
that the participants must comply with child support and asked if              
the money couldn't be taken out like it is done with the permanent             
fund dividend.  He said usually it is a young man and you can't                
depend on giving a young man the money and depend on him to give it            
to the mother and child.                                                       
Number 0989                                                                    
MR. LIVEY stated that provision actually applies to the mother who             
would be the recipient of child support.  It is a requirement that             
as a provision of receiving the public assistance benefit that she             
must comply with child support in terms of trying to locate and                
identifying the father.  The requirement is really on the mother               
and not the individual who is the obligor who is paying the child              
Number 1050                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOE RYAN referred to page 8, line 20, and said it               
talks about confidentiality.  He said, "I've gone back to 071,                 
which referred me to 020, which referred me to 030."  He said if               
we're going to give out public money, he would like to know what,              
why and how the confidentiality works.  Representative Ryan stated             
public money has to be accounted for and if people have                        
confidentiality under the law, it is will make things difficult for            
accounting purposes.                                                           
Number 1089                                                                    
MR. LIVEY stated the provision is in the bill to assure that if the            
state provides a contract to the regional nonprofit corporations               
and that contract would be to provide public assistance benefits to            
non-Natives living in the corporation region, then the state would             
essentially be turning those cases over to the regional nonprofit              
corporation to provide service.  The provision is designed to                  
assure that the regional nonprofit corporations understand that                
they are also under confidentially provisions in terms of releasing            
information about those cases.  He stated, "It is meant as a                   
protection for the confidentiality of those cases that the regional            
corporations are now serving."                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN asked Mr. Livey to explain current                         
confidentialities we have and for what purpose.                                
Number 1173                                                                    
KRISTEN BOMENGEN, Assistant Attorney General, Human Services                   
Section, Civil Division, Department of Law, came before the                    
committee.  She referred to Representative Ryan's question                     
regarding confidentiality and said currently, the records that are             
contained in public assistance files may involve any number of                 
records that are entitled to a kind of privacy consideration.  Ms.             
Bomengen informed the committee members that under the previous                
welfare laws, the federal requirements are that all the information            
remain confidential.  Some of the information had to do with other             
income sources, family concerns, medical records, et cetera.  Those            
are all considered to be taken out of the public record's arena and            
placed into a confidential arena so that people are not sacrificing            
any privacy matters for the purpose of receiving the assistance                
they seek.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN questioned who has access to this information.             
MS. BOMENGEN informed the committee that the access is limited and             
it's primarily to service providers.  As this program has converted            
more to work orientation, there are waivers of the kind of                     
information that are appropriate to work placement.  The access to             
the information is kept within the agency.  She pointed out that               
there are some waivers for child support enforcement purposes and              
certain limited purposes in order for the state to conduct its                 
business that's directly concerned with the operation of the                   
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN asked how he would access information such as              
the number of people receiving Aid to Families with Dependent                  
Children (AFDC).                                                               
MR. LIVEY responded that the bill has a provision that allows the              
department, through the grant mechanism, to define what information            
the state wants to receive from the regional nonprofit corporations            
regarding the number of people served and what services individuals            
are receiving.  In addition, the regional nonprofit corporations               
will have reporting requirements to the federal government                     
regarding what the result is of the spending federal money.  He                
noted the department has access to all those reports.  Mr. Livey               
stated that the provision is primarily to keep information about               
individual cases out of the hands of people who don't have a right             
to know unless they're administering the program and they have some            
reason to have that information.                                               
MS. BOMENGEN referred to the confidentiality provision and said the            
most recent federal law does require that records be kept                      
confidential.  It doesn't prescribe every manner in which those                
records must be kept confidential.  She said the concern addressed             
there is that any entity that's operating federal programs in the              
state be respecting those confidentiality rules as they exchange               
information in order to ascertain whether anyone is receiving                  
duplicate aid or the like.  Ms. Bomengen noted the fiscal                      
accountability concerns are addressed in the top portion of page 7.            
It requires the agency to turn over the same records that they                 
would be submitting to the federal government and also to submit to            
the auditing of their financial records.                                       
Number 1426                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said in the past, the Administration has                   
indicated that they weren't interested in privatization and yet,               
they are coming forth with a bill that talks about large                       
privatization.  He questioned why there is this shift and asked if             
the Administration will be more agreeable on privatizing other                 
aspects of government.                                                         
MR. LIVEY indicated it is hard for him to speak for the rest of the            
Administration but in the area of public assistance, they have                 
begun to privatize a lot of the features of welfare reform.  He                
said, "When the program of welfare reform changed from simply                  
sending a check out to people - and I don't want to simplify too               
much because we were trying to put people to work prior to a couple            
of years ago, but a couple of years ago, when welfare reform passed            
it really did change our focus on getting people to work.  And                 
since that time, virtually all of the welfare to work money that               
we've received from the legislature, for example, has gone out to              
private contractors who are helping us to put people to work.  I               
think we see this as an extension of that and I think                          
philosophically we don't have, in terms of public assistance, we               
don't have any problem in trying to find folks out there who are               
willing to help us do a better job."                                           
Number 1555                                                                    
CHAIRMAN IVAN said that the committee has conducted several                    
hearings on how to strengthen the state/village tribal                         
relationships.  He said he believes the bill falls somewhat in line            
with that effort of strengthening those relationships.  Chairman               
Ivan stated, "I believe giving the responsibility to the area                  
government, I call the regional nonprofits, is just that.  They                
provide service to village communities, individual folks, and they             
have a history of going back quite a number of years since the                 
Indian self determination education assistance law that permitted              
contacting for the Indian Health Services.  And I think they do a              
better job and they're established now with all the contracting                
requirements placed by the Federal Government Accounting                       
Administration and they have a organization established and they're            
ready to take on more responsibility.  Since they're on the ground             
in that area, they're familiar with the individual families or                 
those people that do need assistance."                                         
Number 1679                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE REGGIE JOULE said there is a zero fiscal note.  He              
asked wether or not there would be any savings by implementation of            
MR. LIVEY referred to the five requirements of the state program               
that must be met and said those requirements are currently in the              
state's welfare reform law.  This is meant to require some level of            
conformance between the regional nonprofit corporation benefit and             
service plan and a state service plan.  Mr. Livey referred to the              
phase out of benefits and said there was another provision of the              
federal law that was passed.  In some parts of rural Alaska where              
there are high unemployment rates of 50 percent or higher, the 60-             
month time limit does not apply.  There will be some areas of rural            
Alaska where recipients will not be facing that 60-month time                  
limit.  He noted that was a provision of the federal law that was              
passed last fall.                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE referred to the zero fiscal note and said he              
was wondering if the state would realize any savings by entering               
into contracts with the regional nonprofits.                                   
MR. LIVEY informed the committee that there is a zero fiscal note              
because it primarily authorizes legislation.  He said as the                   
department does their annual budget, there will be a few changes as            
a result of regional nonprofit corporations deciding to do this.               
Mr. Livey said in the long term, what the department would expect              
to see is probably not significant reductions on the administrative            
side, but they hope to see that the regional nonprofit corporations            
will do a better job of putting individuals to work and they hope              
to see some reduction on the benefits paid out to individuals.                 
REPRESENTATIVE ALBERT KOOKESH referred to Public Law 104-193, which            
was adopted August 22, 1996, and said under Section 412, "Direct               
Funding Administration By Indian Tribes," it is federal legislation            
which allows the tribes to do this with or without the state's                 
blessing.  Secondly, under subsection (b) of Section 419 under                 
"Special Rules for Indian Tribes in Alaska," Metlakatla plus all of            
the nonprofit corporations are the corporations which are allowed              
to have direct funding from the federal government for these                   
programs.  Representative Kookesh said his interpretation of the               
bill and the way it would work is that those tribes could apply for            
direct funding for this welfare money to go directly to the                    
nonprofits.  If they want the state money that is being spent in               
those same areas, then they go through the process of putting their            
plan together and having it approved by the state.  If the state               
approves a plan, then the same money that would be used by the                 
state for those same recipients would go to the nonprofits and they            
would administer a joint program with state and federal money.  He             
said by accepting the fact that there are those five provisions                
that they must include in their plan that then are state directed              
requirements.  He said, "My interpretation of that is essentially              
that except there are two things that I think that I want to follow            
up on what Representative Ivan made reference to.  One, we're                  
either going to have one state or two states here.  The step toward            
working together as a Native and non-Native community starts here.             
We have a welfare program that the nonprofits, which have been in              
place by the way for well over 20 years - some of them, can                    
administer very ably.  If we don't have that program in place, they            
would administer their own program, the state would administer                 
their own program.  We'd have two administrations trying to do the             
same job.  And the fact that the nonprofits have essentially said,             
'We would support this, we would work with the state and we would              
even take care of non-Natives living in our area,' is a step in the            
right direction.  I think it makes a lot of sense for the state to             
do that.  If the state doesn't adopt this bill, and the majority               
can do what it will here, the nonprofits will survive anyway.  They            
would get that direct federal funding from the federal government              
and they would take care of their own welfare program.  The state              
is absolutely correct here that because there is also an exception             
to the 60-month rule, they can survive a lot longer than the state             
would be able survive under this program.  I believe that every one            
of the nonprofits in the state, while may be a little bit reluctant            
some of them, are very willing to cooperate with the state in this             
kind of joint effort even to the fact of having adopted those state            
requirements and having an oversight by the state into the                     
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH said while there are two programs being                 
administered, somebody in Anchorage who is being administered under            
the Native program could receive more money per month than a person            
who is administered under the state program.  If they are all under            
one program and if the state requirement is adopted, then everybody            
would get the same benefit package.  He said he would like to                  
emphasize that whether the bill becomes law or not, those nonprofit            
corporations will be administrating programs with federal dollars.             
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said somewhere down the line there is a cost to            
the Administration if the bill becomes law.  He asked how much of              
an administrative fee will the nonprofit corporations charge to set            
up the program.  He asked if the money will come from the state's              
portion or the federal portion.                                                
Number 2131                                                                    
MR. LIVEY stated that there will be an administrative cost to the              
regional corporations for setting up the services.  The money will             
have to be taken either from the money they receive from the                   
federal government, which is a block grant essentially based on a              
fixed amount of expenditure in 1994, or it will have to come from              
whatever the legislative appropriation is for this purpose.  The               
amount of money appropriated to the regional nonprofit corporations            
to provide the service is somewhat fixed.  He explained it is fixed            
on the federal side because of the way the federal law is written.             
It is fixed on the state side because it's based on an                         
appropriation made by the legislature for this purpose.  Mr. Livey             
informed the committee that out of those two streams of money that             
are going to the regional nonprofit corporations, the corporations             
are going to have to decide how they want to organize their                    
administration.  Any money it spends on administration is money                
they will not be able to spend on services and benefits.  He stated            
that is an operational administrative decision that each regional              
nonprofit corporation will have to make.                                       
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said if it spends general fund money, he would             
think it should be reflected in the fiscal note.  At the same time,            
Mr. Livey has indicated there won't be a reduction in state                    
administrative costs and asked where the savings are.                          
MR. LIVEY said he didn't mean to imply that there wouldn't be any              
reductions in administrative costs on behalf of the state.  He said            
he thinks there will be some, but he stated he isn't sure if it                
will be a one for one reduction.  He said there are some                       
administrative costs that occur within the Department of Health and            
Social Services' budget that are fixed.  For example, if Tanana                
Chiefs were to take on the program, the department still has to                
maintain their computer system for all the remaining beneficiaries.            
He said the department wouldn't be able to cut administrative costs            
for computers because that is a essentially a fixed cost.  There               
would be some reductions in other areas as the department wouldn't             
have to have staff in as many rural areas as they currently do.                
Mr. Livey said he believes a big benefit will be that there will be            
a better result on the number of people who are on the program and             
how fast people get off the program, et cetera.                                
MR. LIVEY referred to those costs not being reflected in the fiscal            
note and said what the legislation really does is provide a                    
mechanism for the regional nonprofit corporations, if they choose,             
to make a proposal to administer the program.  He explained that               
the legislature has control of the costs through the annual budget             
process because within the department's public assistance budget               
request unit, there would be an allocation for tribal assistance               
plans.  The legislature would have some control over how much money            
gets appropriated each year to these plans.  Mr. Livey informed the            
committee that the department doesn't know how many regional                   
nonprofit corporations might be coming in and what year they might             
start operations.  The legislation is just authorizing legislation.            
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said he would appreciate it if the department              
could present a scenario that would give some idea of what the                 
anticipated costs will be given a certain set of circumstances such            
as if five or ten corporations participate.  He noted that the                 
communities may actually lose because a state employee may put more            
money into a community than a regional nonprofit corporation                   
employee would.                                                                
Number 2316                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH  said he would agree with Representative                
Ryan in that he would like to see what the benefits and the costs              
will be.  He said the nonprofits may have some idea what their                 
administrative costs would be if they received "X" dollars from the            
state and what impact that would have as compared to what is left              
over for services.  He indicated the legislature can't really make             
an informed decision unless that kind of information is provided.              
Number 2339                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE said the bill has other committees of                     
referral.  It will go to the Health and Social Services Committee              
and the Finance Committee.  He said he doesn't believe the                     
committee needs to hold onto the bill.  Representative Joule stated            
that while the regional tribal organizations may not utilize the               
authorization that the bill provides, they are not in opposition to            
having it available to them.  He said he doesn't know of any                   
nonprofit corporations that are opposed to the legislation.  He                
asked Mr. Livey if he knows of any.                                            
MR. LIVEY responded that to his knowledge, he doesn't know of any.             
He stated that the department has been in communication with the               
regional nonprofit corporations and he believes they are all                   
supportive of the legislation.                                                 
Number 2431                                                                    
BOB CHARLES, Vice President, Operations, Association of Village                
Council Presidents (AVCP), testified via teleconference from                   
Bethel.  He informed the committee members that the AVCP was                   
established in 1964, and it was incorporated in 1978.  Throughout              
most of AVCP's history, they have been contractors of the Bureau of            
Indian Affairs (BIA) and other federal agencies.  He said the AVCP             
provides social services, education and training programs and was              
given the responsibility to provide these services to roughly                  
20,000 people living in the Yukon-Kuskokwim area.                              
TAPE 98-13, SIDE B                                                             
Number 0001                                                                    
MR. CHARLES continued, "permanent basis and about - around 250                 
temporary and part time workers that work throughout the region in             
villages."  He stated that they have established a close working               
relationship with all the local governments and their communities.             
MR. CHARLES explained that Alaska regional nonprofits, like AVCP,              
generally provides services to Alaska Natives in areas of                      
education, employment services and vocational training.  He noted              
ACVP runs a head start program.  He said they have a number of                 
realty specialists that work with Native allotment land owners.                
Mr. Charles explained they provide social services that include                
services like general assistance which is very similar to what is              
provided in the bill.  With their general assistance programs, they            
have a lot of the same requirements and standards which are placed             
on them that are provided by the state.  He said they provide                  
Indian Child Welfare Act services which includes child and family              
resource specialists that work with children and families in each              
of the villages.  Through a federal grant, they provide energy                 
assistance.  There is also a special elderly services program.  Mr.            
Charles said they also run a receiving home service program for                
children who are in the foster care system.  There is a credit and             
finance program that works with people who are interested in                   
getting into business on their own.  He continued to inform the                
committee of several programs the AVCP administers.  He stated they            
have a work force development contract which employees roughly 46              
people, one in each of the villages that takes clients that are                
referred to them by the Division of Public Assistance.  So far,                
they have been able to triple the number of people that the                    
Division of Public Assistance set as a goal for the AVCP in order              
to meet their work participation requirements that are set under               
the Alaska Temporary Assistance Program (ATAP).                                
MR. CHARLES informed the committee members that AVCP, as well as               
many of the Alaska Native regional nonprofits, have been involved              
with welfare reform issues since they began a number of years ago.             
They have participated in meetings with state and federal agencies,            
legislators and congressional members to put forward their                     
perspectives and opinions to make welfare reform work.  He said the            
AVCP believes that welfare reform really needs to be brought down              
to the village level where all the local people who are involved in            
welfare are involved directly in how they accomplish the purposes              
of welfare reform.                                                             
MR. CHARLES said, "The way we feel about this is that we take this             
as if it is taking the next step in this partnership with the state            
to engage our local resources and infrastructure to implement                  
welfare reform.  We don't feel that the state has the capability or            
capacity to do the job it's required to do, under ATAP, on its own.            
And we feel we're hand in hand, dependent upon each other's                    
resources to be able to accomplish the work that's set before us.              
And that's basically the way we see it - working hand in hand with             
the state.  We agree with the concept of what's laid out in the                
bill to bring welfare reform out to the villages.  What's basically            
set out in the law now requires that we follow a certain set of                
guidelines and requirements and it's very tight for us.  For                   
Alaska, we have to follow guidelines that are close to the state               
and in our region, we're very familiar with the process, we've                 
worked for the state for a number of years."                                   
Number 0356                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS referred to Mr. Charles' discussion                     
regarding tripling the amount of work force and asked what that                
MR. CHARLES responded, "When we started out this with the state -              
the work force development project, they were hoping that we would             
just set a goal of around 318 or 20 right around there, of two-                
parent family cases - to put them in work activities or handle that            
many cases in our villages.  Since then, we've actually doubled                
that up to right around 600 or so cases.  And we felt that we've               
over met the goal of trying to place people in work activities to              
meet their work participation rates."                                          
CHAIRMAN IVAN said he would like the committee members to                      
appreciate how the organizations are set up.  He explained the                 
board of directors consists of village tribal chiefs and council               
presidents.  In a lot of cases, some are elders from communities               
that have a very conservative philosophy and they encourage their              
younger generation to be more self-sufficient.  Chair Ivan stated              
that he believes some of the policies developed by the regional                
nonprofits have the same goal as we do down here.                              
Number 0465                                                                    
TERRY HOEFFERLE, Chief of Operations, Bristol Bay Native                       
Association (BBNA), testified via teleconference from Dillingham.              
He informed the committee members that the Bristol Bay Native                  
Association is an association of 30 communities in Bristol Bay.  It            
was originally organized in 1966 to fight for Alaska Native land               
claims.  Once the land claims was passed, the association                      
incorporated in 1972 as a nonprofit corporation under state law.               
Many of their operations in the early years were (indisc.) or war              
on poverty programs and the funding sources were such that the                 
programs were offered to Native and non-Native people.  He said the            
association has over 25 years of experience in providing services              
to both the Native community and the non-Native community.  Mr.                
Hoefferle informed the committee members that a substantial portion            
of their funding is tied to Native American programs.  Because of              
those funding sources, those programs are offered only to the                  
members of the association, the Native residents of Bristol Bay.               
MR. HOEFFERLE said he would speak about the capacity of the Bristol            
Bay Native Association and their sister organizations throughout               
the state in being able to handle programs like this.  He said some            
people may have been astonished last fall to hear the Attorney                 
General talk about the fact that the state has very little presence            
in rural areas.  That is not only true in terms of law enforcement             
but it's also particularly true in terms of the delivery of social             
services.  The state's absence in rural areas in the provision of              
social services is that the vacuum has been filled by regional                 
Native nonprofit organizations such as BBNA.  Mr. Hoefferle                    
explained that the BBNA currently operates 42 separate programs and            
they are required to report independently on each of those programs            
in terms of accomplishing program objectives and in terms of fiscal            
accountability and compliance.  The association currently has a                
budget of $16.3 million.  Of that budget, about $1.7 million is                
devoted to employment training work force development type                     
programs.   In 1992 - 1993, the board of directors of the BBNA saw             
some of the handwriting on the wall with respect to problems in the            
fishing industry and directed the association to get into social               
and safety-net type programs.  At that point, they took on a social            
services program that provided general assistance to needy                     
recipients and redoubled their efforts to provide such programs                
like energy assistance, et cetera.  Mr. Hoefferle pointed out that             
about four years ago, they incorporated employment and training                
programs, general assistance programs and child care programs into             
a single unit called "workforce development."  This was done under             
the aegis of a federal law, Public Law 102-477, which enabled the              
BIA programs, Department of Education programs and Department of               
Labor programs to be operated in such a way that the programs could            
be combined.  They could waive certain kinds of requirements with              
respect to reporting, record keeping and administration.  He stated            
that by combining the operation of the programs, the association               
has managed to reduce the administrative costs by 30 percent.  The             
30 percent reduction in the administration of these programs went              
directly into increasing  services to their members.  Mr. Hoefferle            
informed the committee members that currently the BBNA employs 230             
village staff and about 63 central office staff.  The village staff            
are a particular asset of the association.  They are not only a                
benefit to the communities that they serve but, potentially, are a             
benefit to the state of Alaska in the implementation of the                    
legislation before the committee today.  Mr. Hoefferle said there              
is a delivery system currently in place in the 30 villages in                  
Bristol Bay.                                                                   
MR. HOEFFERLE said in terms of welfare reform, the BBNA and their              
sister organizations around the state were several steps ahead of              
Congress and the Alaska State Legislature in terms of having                   
"workfare" programs attached to general assistance.  It was called             
a tribal work experience program at that time.  That would require             
people receiving general assistance to work in exchange for their              
assistance checks.  Mr. Hoefferle said they continue with this                 
focus on work and getting people employed to this day.  He said he             
believes their commitment to that is unquestionable.                           
MR. HOEFFERLE referred to the way the state's welfare reform or                
ATAP program is operating today and said there have been statements            
in the newspapers that the welfare rolls are decreasing.  In                   
Anchorage, Fairbanks, Sitka, Juneau and in the areas where there               
are many related kinds of programs, the state provides a means for             
people to get on welfare and a means for them to get off of                    
welfare.  In rural Alaska, with the exception of the "ABCP region"             
which is a pilot program for the Department of Health and Social               
Services, the bulk of the ATAP work is being handled long distance             
by telephone from Anchorage.  While it might have been possible to             
do it back in the days when welfare was simply cutting a check to              
people that qualified, today, welfare reform type programs mean                
providing assistance for people - providing training to get them               
off welfare and on to the job.  He explained that currently, in                
rural Alaska, the state provides a way of people getting on welfare            
with no effective means of getting them off of welfare.  That is               
where he believes this particular piece of legislation holds the               
most promise.                                                                  
MR. HOEFFERLE referred to fiscal and program accountability and                
said in the nine years he has been with the BBNA they have not had             
a single audit exception - that's either a programmatic or fiscal              
exception.  He said he doesn't believe they are unusual in that                
regard.  Their sister organizations throughout the state are                   
equally astute in being able to meet all the fiscal and                        
programmatic requirements that the state and federal governments               
impose on them as a condition for receiving public funds.  Mr.                 
Hoefferle said he would answer any questions the committee may                 
Number 0941                                                                    
DON SHIRCEL, Director, Family Services, Tanana Chiefs Conference               
(TCC), testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.  He informed               
the committee members he has been in his position as director for              
the past 14 years.  Mr. Shircel said he holds a Master of Science              
degree in Behavioral Disabilities and he administers an annual                 
budget of over $6 million of the $50 million of the state and                  
federal health and social service programs provided by TCC.                    
MR. SHIRCEL read his statement into the record:                                
"As a social service professional and program planner, I strongly              
support HB 401.  In a state, especially of our size, it makes a lot            
of sense to regionally design and administer temporary assistance              
programming.  HB 401 is consistent with the same rationale from                
which state and federal welfare reform emerged.  Programs closest              
to the people are more responsive, relevant, effective and                     
efficient in large centrally administered one size fits all                    
program, planned and administered outside the community.                       
"The majority of communities in the state, Alaska's rural                      
communities, through their regional nonprofit corporations have                
been designing programs to better fit the needs of their families.             
You've heard about some of those from the previous presenters.                 
Many of them have also been developing local and regional                      
infrastructures that now rival the state's capacity to provide a               
comparable level of local service delivery.  For communities in the            
Interior this is and has been the case for quite some time.                    
"Since 1993, member communities of the Tanana Chiefs Conference                
initiated and have been jointly implementing over $1.3 million of              
'workfare' assistance programming under the BIA welfare assistance             
grant program.  Over the course of the past three years, the Tanana            
Chiefs Conference has conducted regional, sub-regional and village             
community meetings and teleconferences regarding the development               
and implementation of federal welfare reform legislation and                   
"As part of an Interior regional TANF (Temporary Assistance to                 
Needy Families) program planning process in December of 1996, TCC              
conducted a regionwide survey of its member communities to                     
determine their preferences in program design.  In March of 1997,              
we developed and circulated, for discussion, a draft regional TANF             
program concept paper based on the consensus elements of the                   
survey.  We solicited and received comments on every program                   
element at our annual convention and board of directors meeting and            
held a special board of directors meeting in June of 1997, to                  
establish consensus on all the key program design elements.                    
Additional discussion and input from Interior communities was                  
initiated through separate sub-regional board meeting throughout               
the fall of 1997, and a draft regional TANF plan was developed and             
distributed for public review by every community in the service                
area during three separate teleconferences held to solicit                     
additional comments on the plan.                                               
"In February of this year, just a few weeks ago, a final draft of              
our plan was developed which incorporated the comments from our                
communities review process.  Our executive board of directors of               
Tanana Chiefs have reviewed and approved the TCC regional TANF                 
plan.  And from these formal discussions and decision processes                
along with our region public awareness efforts, we've been able to             
work along with other regional Native nonprofits, the state of                 
Alaska Division of Public Assistance and the deputy director of the            
Department of Health and Social Services to put together a plan                
that we believe gets a bigger bang for the state and federal buck              
and our current programming.                                                   
"In the truest sense of the word, the TCC's plan is programming                
developed by the communities themselves.  The deliberative actions             
that have been taken to reach consensus on all aspects regarding               
our regional plan, we believe, will assure maximum and ongoing                 
collaboration between local and regional partners of the project               
and will create a collective ownership in investments and                      
commitment by all the parties regarding the goals of the plan                  
itself.  The TCC regional plan is based on and incorporates small              
community based service delivery design.  It incorporates an                   
infrastructure that includes over 40 existing community-based                  
offices and assigned staff located on one-stop centers in each of              
the communities of the service areas.  These shared staff and                  
facilities are funded through the combined resources of multiple               
federal programs to minimize administrative costs and maximize the             
level of collaboration with other support services needed by                   
families seeking to enter the labor market.  The small community-              
based service centers, which we've designed into our program, are              
locally accessible, culturally appropriate, single points of entry             
for families needing assistance and also the single points of                  
contact for a broad range of regional service providers and                    
employers seeking to get information about their services and                  
employment opportunities of potential clients.  The small size of              
each village one-stop center allows for personal attention,                    
individualized planning and services tailored to meet the needs of             
each family, as well as accurate, timely and ongoing monitoring of             
each client's progress.  The TCC regional plan incorporates a                  
service delivery infrastructure in which people are working with               
people, not paper.  They know each other and regularly interact as             
members of the same community and work together toward a common                
goal to move on to work and to be more self-sufficient in providing            
for the needs of their family.                                                 
"As I said, we believe that the TCC plan - our regional plan which             
was developed by the communities themselves gets a bigger bang for             
the state - out of the state and federal bucks than the current                
Alaska temporary assistance to needy families program does.  While             
many of the elements of our program plan are identical to those of             
the state to assure standards of fairness to all Alaskan citizens,             
many of the key elements differ as a reflection of the strong                  
attitudes  and local values of the region itself.  The TCC regional            
plan incorporates the same resources and exemptions, the same                  
definitions for 'earned' and 'unearned' income, the same standards             
of need and eligibility that are used by the state, same level of              
benefits for children, pregnant women and disabled adults, same 60-            
month time limit, but there are some major differences.  The                   
creation of the one-stop centers in every community within the                 
region who will assist individuals in getting off of welfare is one            
of the key elements.  Another key element that differs from the                
state is in regard to the number of cases that are required to                 
participate in work activities.  In the state's current plan, 30               
percent of the total case load is required to engage in work                   
activities.  In the TCC regional plan, on the advisement of local              
communities throughout the region, 60 percent, double the number of            
cases, are required to engage in work activities.  In the state                
plan, individual cases are required to enter those work activities             
within 24 months - two years after they apply for assistance.  In              
the TCC plan, individuals are required to get to work and to engage            
in the same work activities within two months, not two years.  The             
TCC regional plan requires that all individual cases be screened               
for domestic violence and alcohol and substance abuse.  They                   
require all parents who receive assistance to attend parent-teacher            
conferences and become actively engaged in their children's                    
education.  They require participants to regularly engage in health            
checkups and health screenings available in their community and                
they impose strict sanctions for those individuals who don't.                  
"Mr. Chairman and committee members, we ask that you seriously                 
consider moving this bill out of committee and onto passage.  We               
look forward to the positive and healthy collaboration with the                
state which this bill we believe would encourage.  Thank you Mr.               
Chairman and committee members for your time and this opportunity              
to testify."                                                                   
Number 1409                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN asked why the program would be exempt from the             
state procurement code.  He asked if there is only one entity in               
each area that may be eligible to do this.                                     
MR. LIVEY explained that the regional nonprofit corporations that              
are eligible to receive the grant are actually listed in the                   
federal law.                                                                   
Number 1444                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON explained that in the past, the state                
procurement code has been inordinately difficult to work with and              
is quite impractical for people in the field who have to do things.            
He said this Administration was well on its way to revising that.              
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH said he has heard members of the legislature            
say that we need to work with tribes in rural communities within               
the parameter of the Alaska Constitution and the bill makes good               
sense and it is a positive step.  He said the organizations aren't             
fly-by-night organizations and he believes that they have done a               
very good job for the people in the Bush area.  He noted that the              
committee should remember that the state's absence in the Bush, in             
rural Alaska, is the reason these organizations sprung up in the               
first place.  They had to take the place of the state in its                   
absence in rural Alaska.  The tribes are looking for a handout,                
they are here with their hand out offering to help.  They want a               
partnership with the state because it makes good sense and he hopes            
the committee members recognize that.                                          
Number 1586                                                                    
CHAIRMAN IVAN said the hearing has been educational.  He said as               
far as he is concerned the dollar that goes out, he believes, has              
more bang for the buck because it's not only social services that              
they provide, but counseling, education for children, et cetera.               
Chair Ivan said he believes the bill will further the effort to                
work together with the communities.  He noted the bill also has a              
Health, Education and Social Services Committee referral along with            
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said he appreciates the bill for several                  
reasons.  He said he concurs that there is a lack of state presence            
and some antipathy in villages he has visited.  He said his own                
political philosophy is to decentralize everything and get                     
decision-making and accountability as close as possible to where               
the work is and HB 401 does that.  Representative Dyson said he                
doesn't think that the money and efforts that might come from this             
will be done perfectly, but they certainly aren't being done                   
perfectly by the state now.  He believes that the people in the                
rural areas of Alaska will ultimately demand excellence out of the             
administrators of these things, will hold some accountability and              
it will work.  He said his own estimation is that the Department of            
Community and Regional Affairs has been skating close to the edge              
on issues in their efforts to work with local and regional                     
nonprofits.  He said he supports the bill and commends those who               
have brought it forward.                                                       
Number 1811                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to move HB 401 out of committee             
with individual recommendations.                                               
CHAIRMAN IVAN asked if there was an objection to moving the bill               
out of committee.                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN asked, "Attach a zero fiscal note or are you               
going to wait for the department to come back?"                                
CHAIRMAN IVAN responded with a zero fiscal note.                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON interjected, "With the present fiscal note                
anticipating that may change before it gets to Finance."                       
CHAIRMAN IVAN suggested that Mr. Livey provide information to                  
Representative Kookesh and Representative Ryan regarding the fiscal            
concerns that were brought up.  He asked if there was an objection             
to moving HB 401.  There being none, HB 401 moved out of the House             
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                             
CHAIRMAN IVAN adjourned the House Community and Regional Affairs               
Standing Committee meeting at 9:32 p.m.                                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects