03/16/2023 08:00 AM House COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS
Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE HOUSE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE March 16, 2023 8:02 a.m. DRAFT MEMBERS PRESENT Representative CJ McCormick, Chair Representative Kevin McCabe, Vice Chair Representative Tom McKay Representative Josiah Patkotak Representative Justin Ruffridge Representative Rebecca Himschoot Representative Donna Mears MEMBERS ABSENT All members present OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT Representative George Rauscher COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL NO. 61 "An Act relating to restrictions on firearms and other weapons." - HEARD & HELD HOUSE BILL NO. 17 "An Act relating to insurance coverage for contraceptives and related services; relating to medical assistance coverage for contraceptives and related services; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD & HELD HOUSE BILL NO. 78 "An Act establishing September 10 as Alaska Community Health Aide Appreciation Day." - MOVED HB 78 OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION BILL: HB 61 SHORT TITLE: LIMITATIONS ON FIREARMS RESTRICTIONS SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) TILTON 02/06/23 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/06/23 (H) CRA, STA 03/16/23 (H) CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124 BILL: HB 17 SHORT TITLE: CONTRACEPTIVES COVERAGE:INSURE;MED ASSIST SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) CARRICK 01/19/23 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 1/9/23
01/19/23 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS
01/19/23 (H) HSS, CRA, L&C, FIN 02/07/23 (H) HSS AT 3:00 PM DAVIS 106 02/07/23 (H) Heard & Held 02/07/23 (H) MINUTE(HSS) 02/18/23 (H) HSS AT 3:00 PM DAVIS 106 02/18/23 (H) -- MEETING CANCELED -- 03/02/23 (H) HSS AT 3:00 PM DAVIS 106 03/02/23 (H) Moved CSHB 17(HSS) Out of Committee 03/02/23 (H) MINUTE(HSS) 03/07/23 (H) HSS AT 3:00 PM DAVIS 106 03/07/23 (H) Moved CSHB 17(HSS) Out of Committee 03/07/23 (H) MINUTE(HSS) 03/08/23 (H) HSS RPT CS(HSS) 3DP 2NR 03/08/23 (H) DP: RUFFRIDGE, SUMNER, MINA 03/08/23 (H) NR: SADDLER, PRAX 03/16/23 (H) CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124 BILL: HB 78 SHORT TITLE: AK COMMUNITY HEALTH AIDE APPRECIATION DAY SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) MCCORMICK 02/20/23 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/20/23 (H) CRA 03/14/23 (H) CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124 03/14/23 (H) Heard & Held 03/14/23 (H) MINUTE(CRA) 03/16/23 (H) CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124 WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE CATHY TILTON Alaska State Legislature Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: As prime sponsor, presented HB 61. STEVE ST. CLAIR, Staff Representative Cathy Tilton Alaska State Legislature Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Gave the sectional analysis for HB 61 on behalf of Representative Cathy Tilton, prime sponsor. AOIBHEANN CLINE, Northwest Regional Director National Rifle Association Fairfax, Virginia POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 61. REPRESENTATIVE ASHLEY CARRICK Alaska State Legislature Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: As prime sponsor, presented HB 17. CHERIE BOWMAN, Staff Representative Ashley Carrick Alaska State Legislature Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Gave the sectional analysis for HB 17 on behalf of Representative Ashley Carrick, prime sponsor. LORI WING-HEIER, Director Division of Insurance State of Alaska Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Joined via teleconference to provide answers on HB 17. CALLAN CHYTHLOOK-SIFSOF, Staff Representative CJ McCormick Alaska State Legislature Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Revisited HB 78 on behalf of Representative CJ McCormick, prime sponsor. NANCY BALE, School Nurse Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 78. ACTION NARRATIVE 8:02:42 AM CHAIR CJ MCCORMICK called the House Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee meeting to order at 8:02 a.m. Representatives McKay, Ruffridge, Himschoot, McCabe, and McCormick were present at the call to order. Representatives Patkotak, and Mears arrived as the meeting was in progress. HB 61-LIMITATIONS ON FIREARMS RESTRICTIONS 8:04:11 AM CHAIR MCCORMICK announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 61, "An Act relating to restrictions on firearms and other weapons." 8:04:55 AM The committee took an at-ease from 8:04 a.m. to 8:05 a.m. 8:05:20 AM REPRESENTATIVE CATHY TILTON, Alaska State Legislature, as prime sponsor, explained HB 61 is something that addresses events during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic where orders were made by governors and mayors to shut down stores that sold firearms and ammunition ("ammo") She said HB 61 reaffirms the Second Amendment by stipulating that the state and municipalities may not implement new restrictions to access firearms, ammunition, firearms accessories, or shooting ranges resulting from disaster declarations. She turned the presentation over to her staff, Mr. St. Clair. 8:07:17 AM STEVE ST. CLAIR, Staff, Representative Cathy Tilton, Alaska State Legislature, on behalf of Representative Tilton, prime sponsor, gave the sectional analysis for HB 61 Section 1 Prohibits the State, municipalities, and other instrumentalities from restricting the following under a disaster declaration: 1. Possession, use or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition; 2. Ordering the seizure of the above-referenced items; 3. Limiting the quantity or other restrictions on the sales and services of those items; 4. Closing or limiting the hours of operation for retail establishments that sell and service those items unless the closure or limitation applies to all other forms of commerce within the jurisdiction; 5. Closing or limiting the hours of operation for shooting ranges; 6. Suspending or revoking a concealed carry permit outside of current statutory provisions; 7. Refusing to accept an application for a concealed carry permit; 8. Provides for civil action as relief for a violation of the above-referenced prohibitions; 9. Provides definitions for "firearm" and "firearm accessory"; Section 2 Repeals a previous definition of "firearm accessory" found under the Alaska Firearms Freedom Act. MR. ST. CLAIR emphasized item 4 by stating that this is about equity and commerce; if a disaster declaration states everything is to be closed down, then gun stores would close too. 8:10:16 AM MR. ST. CLAIR continued presenting HB 61 with an accompanying PowerPoint, titled "HB 61 An Act Relating To The Restriction Of Firearms And Other Weapons,." [hard copy included in the committee packet]. He moved to the second slide and explained HB 61 is critical to the Alaska way of life, including subsistence, protection, and the constitution. He noted this will be elaborated more throughout the presentation. He proceeded to the third slide, titled "Firearm Restrictions Impact on Subsistence." The slide highlights the definition of subsistence and points out Alaska's rural communities that rely heavily on "wild foods." He continued to the fourth slide, which highlight firearm restrictions' impact on protection, and he brought up examples of gun protection during animal attacks. He continued on the fifth slide, titled "Firearm Restrictions and Constitution," which read as follows [original punctuation provided]: • In January 2022 a federal appeals court ruled that two California counties that shut down gun stores as nonessential businesses in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, violated the Constitution's Second Amendment. • The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that this is an individual right, not requiring participation in a militia. • In 2010, the high court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right that also applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, which bars any state from denying liberty to any person without due process of law. 8:14:16 AM MR. ST. CLAIR moved to the sixth slide, titled "Nationwide Action on Firearm Restrictions," which featured four states that adopted similar legislation in 2021: South Dakota, Georgia, West Virginia, and North Dakota. He continued to the seventh and final slide, "Conclusion," which read as follows[original punctuation provided]: • Firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition are a part of the Alaskan culture and way of life. Firearms facilitate feeding families and food security. • Firearms allow Alaskan's and visitors to safely explore our beautiful state. • The Second Amendment grants citizens the right to bear arms. • Bi Partisan support (SB 136 / HB 179, 2022) 8:15:47 AM CHAIR MCCORMICK thanked the presenters for spotlighting the importance of subsistence hunting in Alaska communities. 8:16:00 AM REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE commented that gun stores do not only sell guns but many items that are essential for subsistence. He does not see this as so much of a Second Amendment gun issue, but as essential and critical to Alaska, and a free market economy. REPRESENTATIVE TILTON reiterated the bill does not create any new law or change laws already here for protection, but it does allow that - in something like the COVID-19 pandemic - there is equity, and the stores would remain open. 8:18:53 AM REPRESENTATIVE HIMSCHOOT asked for clarity if this is to add firearms to the list of essential businesses. MR. ST. CLAIR responded no; this is about equity. REPRESENTATIVE HIMSCHOOT asked what the difference is between equity and equality. MR. ST. CLAIR stated he believed the words at their core are the same thing. 8:21:33 AM REPRESENTATIVE MEARS commented on the number of emails she had received on the bill from both sides. She pointed out that a lot of the protections already exist. REPRESENTATIVE TILTON explained the bill ensures that firearm stores remain open as essential, being that [the use of firearms] is "such a way of life" in Alaska. 8:23:06 AM REPRESENTATIVE RUFFRIDGE echoed Representative Mears' comment on the number of emails received, and he said he strongly agrees with keeping stores open and having that equity or equality for each individual store owner. He also asked for clarity on carrying weapons. MR. ST. CLAIR reiterated that what this legislation does is reinforces a person's ability to carry where one is authorized to carry currently. It does not restrict carrying. 8:27:49 AM REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE commented on Mayor Nagin, former mayor of New Orleans and how he limited and confiscated firearms after Hurricane Katrina. He confirmed this was a concern in comments he received regarding the bill in that during a crisis you could not rely on police protection only. MR. ST. CLAIR replied in reference to Mayor Nagin in New Orleans that what occurred there was found to be unconstitutional. If a person is legally authorized to carry, that weapon cannot be confiscated unless the individual has lost their ability to carry due to certain circumstances. REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE stated that an armed society with the ability to protect itself is generally "polite." MR. ST. CLAIR agreed with Representative McCabe. 8:30:26 AM REPRESENTATIVE MCKAY asked how long the lockdown lasted by former Anchorage Mayor Berkowitz. He commented on not being able to buy shells/ammunition. MR. ST. CLAIR replied the lockdown lasted 10 days. REPRESENTATIVE MCKAY commented it does not matter if the lockdown and store closure was 10 minutes or 10 days, and noted he is a proud sponsor of HB 61. 8:31:33 AM CHAIR MCCORMICK welcomed invited testimony. 8:31:52 AM AOIBHEANN CLINE, Northwest Regional Director, National Rifle Association (NRA), began her testimony, she stated, on behalf of the tens of thousands of NRA members in Alaska in support of HB 61. The bill protects Alaska citizens' constitutional rights to keep and bear arms from government infringement under the declaration of an emergency disaster. The bill provides an effective approach to balance economic rights and local control. 8:35:47 AM REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE brought up item four on the sectional analysis, that gun stores do not want to be singled out; they want equity in their treatment with other businesses. He pointed out an unnamed gun rights activist group that is in opposition to HB 61 because of that item, and he asked for confirmation that the NRA is in support of HB 61 because it is a "holistic" bill; it does not single out or give preferential treatment to gun stores. MS. CLINE replied that is correct. The bill stresses that the firearms industry cannot be singled out from other forms of commerce. 8:37:53 AM REPRESENTATIVE RUFFRIDGE commented on page 1 line 8, about forbidding the possession or use or transfer of firearms. He asked Ms. Cline in her testimony if she could speak more on prohibiting during a disaster. 8:38:34 AM MS. CLINE explained that the bill does not change current state law, it just states that in an emergency you cannot add new "colors of control" and change where you can and cannot carry. 8:40:36 AM REPRESENTATIVE HIMSCHOOT referenced the COVID-19 shutdown in Anchorage and asked for clarity on whether gun sale facilities should be added to the list of essentials. MR. ST. CLAIR replied there should not be a list - it is all or nothing. 8:42:23 AM CHAIR MCCORMICK announced future public testimony and amendment deadlines for HB 61 [HB 61 was held over.] 8:42:51 AM The committee took an at-ease from 8:42 a.m. to 8:46 a.m. HB 17-CONTRACEPTIVES COVERAGE:INSURE;MED ASSIST 8:46:55 AM CHAIR MCCORMICK announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 17, "An Act relating to insurance coverage for contraceptives and related services; relating to medical assistance coverage for contraceptives and related services; and providing for an effective date." [Before the committee was CSHB 17 (HSS).] 8:47:12 AM REPRESENTATIVE ASHLEY CARRICK, Alaska State Legislature, as prime sponsor, presented CSHB 17 (HSS). She synopsized the bill as per the sponsor statement, which read as follows [original punctuation provided]: Women in Alaska, especially rural Alaskans, face many obstacles in accessing reproductive health care and prescription contraceptives for a variety of reasons. Travel limitations can create barriers regarding consistent access to reproductive health care. Additionally, a significant number of women in Alaska work on fishing boats or on the North Slope, limiting access to reproductive health care and prescription contraceptives. Busy work schedules and family life can also be problematic in traveling to healthcare facilities or pharmacies necessary for providing these services. House Bill 17 mandates coverage by healthcare insurers, including Medicaid, for prescription contraceptives and related medical services, allowing up to a 12-month supply of prescription contraceptives. This bill is an important step in preventing unintended pregnancies by eliminating barriers associated with cost and availability. Studies show that providing a one-year supply of prescription contraceptives, including long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), reduces unintended pregnancies by 30%. It also increases family planning options while reducing costs related to unintended pregnancies such as pregnancy tests, follow-up visits and other associated long-term costs. Furthermore, it empowers victims of domestic or interpersonal violence whose abusers control access to contraceptives. It reduces the number of abortions performed. Women also use birth control to alleviate symptoms from certain medical conditions such as endometriosis and acne. With greater access and increased options to reproductive health care, Alaskan women will have the necessary support to improve family planning while decreasing health care costs. REPRESENTATIVE CARRICK also noted there are zero fiscal notes attached to the bill. 8:51:59 AM CHERIE BOWMAN, Staff, Representative Ashley Carrick, Alaska State Legislature, on behalf of Representative Carrick, prime sponsor, gave the sectional analysis on CSHB 17 (HSS) [included in the committee packet], which read as follows [original punctuation provided]: Section 1 AS 21.42.427. Coverage for contraceptives. Amends AS 21.42 by adding a new section which (1) requires a health care insurer to provide coverage for prescription contraceptives and medical services necessary for those products or devices (including over-the-counter emergency contraception that was obtained without a prescription); (2) requires reimbursement to a health care provider or dispensing entity for dispensing prescription contraceptives intended to last for a 12-month period for subsequent dispensing; (3) prevents an insurer from offsetting the costs of compliance; (4) prevents an insurer from restricting or delaying coverage for contraceptives; (5) if the provider recommends a particular service or FDA-approved item based on a determination of medical necessity, the plan or issuer must cover that service or item without cost sharing; and (6) exempts religious employers if certain criteria are met. Section 2 AS 29.10.200. Limitation of home rule powers. Amends AS 29.10.200 by adding a provision applying to home rule municipalities. Section 3 AS 29.20.420. Health insurance policies. Amends AS 29.20 by adding a new section clarifying that municipal health care insurance plans that are self- insured are subject to the requirements of sec. 1. Section 4 AS 39.30.090. Procurement of group insurance. Clarifies that a group health insurance policy covering employees of a participating governmental unit is subject to the requirements of sec. 1. Section 5 AS 39.30.091. Authorization for self-insurance and excess loss insurance. Clarifies that a self-insured group medical plan covering active state employees provided under this section is subject to the requirements of sec. 1. Section 6 AS 47.07.065. Payment for prescribed drugs. Requires the Department of Health to pay for prescription contraceptives intended to last for a 12- month period for subsequent dispensing for eligible recipients of medical assistance, if prescribed to and requested by the recipient, as well as medical services necessary for those products or devices. Distributed by the Office of Representative Ashley Carrick 1.25.2023 2 The Department of Health must also provide coverage for over-the-counter emergency contraception that was obtained without a prescription. Section 7 Uncodified law - applicability Requires the Department of Health to immediately amend and submit for federal approval a state plan for medical assistance coverage consistent with sec. 6 of this Act. Section 8 Uncodified law - applicability Makes sec. 6 of the Act conditional on the approval required under sec. 7 of the Act. Section 9 If, under sec. 8 of this Act, sec. 6 of this Act takes effect, it takes effect on the day after the date the revisor of statutes receives notice from the commissioner of health under sec. 8 of this Act. 8:56:17 AM REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE said women he knows have expressed concern that if at 12 months, a birth control prescription will not be as effective, or body chemistry may change to cause the ineffectiveness. REPRESENTATIVE CARRICK responded that the medical provider has full control over what they believe to be the right prescription for the individual. She stated most providers may prescribe just a few months prescription then conduct a follow-up. 8:58:04 AM REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE reiterated the concern that had been relayed to him and asked Representative Ruffridge, who has a background in pharmacy, to address it. REPRESENTATIVE RUFFRIDGE explained that oral contraception is never 100 percent effective, and low dose versions are rigid in how you must take them. He confirmed there are very few alterations to body chemistry that affect contraception in general. He stated HB 17 can help cover some of the gaps because in the pharmacy setting some of the more emergent refill prescriptions are women who didn't realize they needed a refill, and then possibly skip their low dose medication. 9:01:21 AM REPRESENTATIVE MCKAY commented his understanding is that currently, if a female goes to a doctor, explains she will be gone several months, and asks for a 12-month dose, the issue is that insurance won't pay for it. REPRESENTATIVE CARRICK stated that is exactly the gap that would be fixed through HB 17 - that extended prescriptions, as opposed to one- to three-month prescriptions, will be covered under insurance. 9:03:27 AM REPRESENTATIVE MEARS commented on her own prescriptions and having them filled before coming to Juneau for the duration of the legislative session. Her perception of the bill is that it brings contraceptives on par with other medications. REPRESENTATIVE CARRICK replied that is correct. 9:04:40 AM LORI WING-HEIER, Director, Division of Insurance, Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development, clarified that insurance would not "get in the middle" of a provider and the provider would not be stopped from having their responsibility to a patient; the proposed legislation is stating that once a contraceptive is provided, then the patient will have the right or ability to get a 12-month supply. It is a convenience for women to get their prescriptions for longer periods of time if they will be away for extended periods due to work, travel, or other reasons. She noted there had not been any rebuttal from insurance companies over HB 17. 9:07:07 AM REPRESENTATIVE HIMSCHOOT commented that the bill is decades overdue, and it would help women, including, for example, the women in Southeast Alaska who go out on extended fishing trips. 9:07:45 AM REPRESENTATIVE MEARS echoed the sentiments of Representative Himschoot. 9:08:03 AM REPRESENTATIVE CARRICK commented that HB 17 is an insurance bill at its core; it would not change contraception coverage or the relationship with the provider, it would change what happens at the pharmacy once a patient has a prescription. She explained there had been some opposition submitted, and she encouraged people to visit her office and speak with her and her staff to communicate with those who may still feel opposition to help illuminate the purpose of this legislation. 9:09:17 AM CHAIR MCCORMICK announced that the amendment deadline for HB 17 is March 19 and public testimony will be on March 21. [HB 17 was held over.] 9:09:42 AM The committee took an at-ease from 9:09 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. HB 78-AK COMMUNITY HEALTH AIDE APPRECIATION DAY 9:15:03 AM CHAIR MCCORMICK announced that the final order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 78, "An Act establishing September 10 as Alaska Community Health Aide Appreciation Day." 9:15:32 AM CALLAN CHYTHLOOK-SIFSOF, Staff, Representative CJ McCormick, Alaska State Legislature, on behalf of Representative McCormick, prime sponsor, revisited HB 78 and reiterated that the role of health aides in Alaska is immense and cannot be understated. Their jobs are 24 hours a day and they provide medical treatment and coordinate with doctors and nurses to provide all aspects of health care. 9:16:55 AM CHAIR MCCORMICK opened public testimony on HB 78. 9:17:16 AM NANCY BALE, School Nurse, testified in support of HB 78 and provided her background. She explained that the community health aides perform many functions of a school nurse; they are unsung heroes who are never off [of work], and that is something very much worth appreciating. 9:19:23 AM CHAIR MCCORMICK, after ascertaining that there was no one else who wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 78. CHAIR MCCORMICK commented that it is a privilege to bring forth the bill. He entertained a motion to move HB 78 from committee. 9:20:40 AM REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE moved to report HB 78 out of committee with individual recommendations and an attached zero fiscal note. [The motion was made to move HB 78, "as amended," but there had been no amendments.] 9:20:56 AM REPRESENTATIVE RUFFRIDGE objected for the purpose of discussion. He commented it is important to know who is doing what and how they go about their lives and what it looks like in places a lot of people haven't been to. REPRESENTATIVE RUFFRIDGE withdrew his objection. 9:21:36 AM REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE thanked Chair McCormick for bringing the bill forward, as it raises awareness. 9:22:26 AM REPRESENTATIVE HIMSCHOOT commented on her mother, who was a registered nurse, and the highlight of her career was training village health aides. 9:23:20 AM REPRESENTATIVE RUFFRIDGE restated that he withdrew his objection. There being no further objection, HB 78 was reported out of the House Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee. 9:23:54 AM The committee took an at-ease from 9:23 a.m. to 9:26 a.m. 9:26:59 AM CHAIR MCCORMICK thanked his staff and discussed upcoming agendas. 9:27:49 AM ADJOURNMENT There being no further business before the committee, the House Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee was adjourned at 9:28 a.m.