Legislature(2021 - 2022)ADAMS 519

04/08/2021 01:30 PM FINANCE

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Audio Topic
02:03:32 PM Start
02:04:15 PM HB69 || HB71
02:07:11 PM Public Testimony: Offnet Sites - Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Delta Junction, Dillingham, Glenallen, Valdez, Wrangell, Homer, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Seward
03:38:20 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 2:00 pm --
+= HB 69 APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit 2 Minutes> --
+= HB 71 APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit 2 Minutes> --
2:00 - 3:30 pm: Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg,
Delta Junction, Dillingham, Glenallen, Valdez,
Wrangell, Homer, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Seward
- Please call 30 min. prior to end of allotted
time or testimony will close early
- All Off Net callers must hang up immediately
after testifying to keep lines open
- Continue to access meeting through akleg.gov
- The hearing may be televised on Gavel to Gavel,
please check listings
- Select a spokesperson if you are part of a
group with the same message
- Send written testimony to
house.finance@akleg.gov
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       April 8, 2021                                                                                            
                         2:03 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:03:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  called the House Finance  Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 2:03 p.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Kelly Merrick, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Ben Carpenter                                                                                                    
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Sara Rasmussen                                                                                                   
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Janye  Andreen, Alaska  Public  Health Association,  Juneau;                                                                    
Natalie Wojchik, Executive  Director, Sitkans Against Family                                                                    
Violence, Sitka;  Sabrina Sutton, President,  Kodiak Borough                                                                    
Education  Association,   Kodiak;  Jonas   Lamb,  President,                                                                    
Alaska  Library  Association,  Juneau; Andy  Anderson,  City                                                                    
Council  of  Dillingham,  Dillingham;  Max  Angellan,  Self,                                                                    
Kwethluk; Sarah Hanson-Hofstetter,  Working Against Violence                                                                    
for Everyone  (WAVE), Petersburg;  Tom Brice,  University of                                                                    
Alaska   Fairbanks  Alumni   Association,  Juneau;   Melissa                                                                    
Henshaw,  Public Relations  Director,  City  and Borough  of                                                                    
Sitka,  Sitka;   Cris  Eichenlaub,  Self,   Wasilla;  Rowena                                                                    
Palomar,  Executive  Director,   Advocates  for  Victims  of                                                                    
Violence  Valdez,  Valdez;  Rodney  Dial,  Mayor,  Ketchikan                                                                    
Gateway Borough, Ketchikan;  Bob Sivertsen, Self, Ketchikan;                                                                    
Robert  Purcell, KBBI  Public  Broadcasting, Homer;  Roxanne                                                                    
Murphy,  Assistant City  Manager,  City  of Valdez,  Valdez;                                                                    
Jennifer Canfield,  Chair, KTOO Board of  Directors, Juneau;                                                                    
Dawson  Moore, Board  President,  Advocates  for Victims  of                                                                    
Domestic  Violence,  Valdez;  Helen  Clough,  Self,  Juneau;                                                                    
Tanya Kvasnikoff,  Self, Dillingham; Eryn  Ruppert, Resource                                                                    
Advocate,  Women in  Safe Homes  (WISH), Ketchikan;  Beverly                                                                    
Richardson,   Self,   Petersburg;  Deborah   Hayden,   Self,                                                                    
Ketchikan; Carmen Lowry,  Executive Director, Alaska Network                                                                    
on Domestic  Violence and  Sexual Assault  (ANDVSA), Juneau;                                                                    
Jaclyn   Sallee,   Self,   Anchorage;  Tom   Abbott,   Self,                                                                    
Petersburg;  Ghert Abbott,  Self,  Ketchikan; Blue  Shibler,                                                                    
Self,  Juneau; Vikki  Jo Kennedy,  Self,  Juneau; Joy  Lyon,                                                                    
Executive Director,  Association for the Education  of Young                                                                    
Children, Juneau.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 69     APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
          HB 69 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
          consideration.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HB 71     APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
          HB 71 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
          consideration.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
PUBLIC TESTIMONY: OFFNET SITES  - JUNEAU, SITKA, PETERSBURG,                                                                    
DELTA  JUNCTION,  DILLINGHAM, GLENALLEN,  VALDEZ,  WRANGELL,                                                                    
HOMER, KETCHIKAN, KODIAK, SEWARD                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster reviewed the agenda for the day.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 69                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     loan  program  expenses  of state  government  and  for                                                                    
     certain   programs;    capitalizing   funds;   amending                                                                    
     appropriations;    making   reappropriations;    making                                                                    
     supplemental   appropriations;  making   appropriations                                                                    
     under art.  IX, sec.  17(c), Constitution of  the State                                                                    
     of  Alaska,  from  the  constitutional  budget  reserve                                                                    
     fund; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 71                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     capital    expenses   of    the   state's    integrated                                                                    
     comprehensive    mental    health    program;    making                                                                    
     supplemental  appropriations;  and   providing  for  an                                                                    
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:04:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
^PUBLIC   TESTIMONY:   OFFNET   SITES   -   JUNEAU,   SITKA,                                                                  
PETERSBURG, DELTA  JUNCTION, DILLINGHAM,  GLENALLEN, VALDEZ,                                                                  
WRANGELL, HOMER, KETCHIKAN, KODIAK, SEWARD                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster indicated  the committee  would be  hearing                                                                    
public  testimony from  the  communities  of Juneau,  Sitka,                                                                    
Petersburg, Delta  Junction, Dillingham,  Glenallen, Valdez,                                                                    
Wrangell, Home,  Ketchikan, Kodiak, and Seward.  He provided                                                                    
general instructions  for testifiers and provided  the email                                                                    
and call-in numbers for submitting public comments.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:07:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JANYE  ANDREEN,  ALASKA  PUBLIC HEALTH  ASSOCIATION,  JUNEAU                                                                    
(via teleconference),  spoke in support of  the $1.5 million                                                                    
increase for  public health nursing personnel.  She stressed                                                                    
that public  health nursing in  conjunction with  the tribal                                                                    
health  system  was  the  cornerstone  of  community  public                                                                    
health  services. She  advocated  the  importance of  public                                                                    
health  nurse  staffing on  the  ground.  She reported  that                                                                    
Alaska had  cut approximately $6 million  from public health                                                                    
nursing  since  2014,  which  resulted  in  a  reduction  in                                                                    
services  and  staffing.  She  provided  statistics  on  the                                                                    
number  of programs  and services  that had  been eliminated                                                                    
due  to  cuts.   She  stressed  that  the   number  of  teen                                                                    
pregnancies had  increased, the number of  immunizations had                                                                    
decreased,  syphilis had  dramatically increased  and Alaska                                                                    
current  lead the  country in  the cases  of Gonorrhea.  She                                                                    
spoke of  temporary federal funding that  had helped augment                                                                    
the public  health response. She reiterated  her support for                                                                    
additional funding for public health.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:11:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NATALIE WOJCHIK, EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR, SITKANS AGAINST FAMILY                                                                    
VIOLENCE, SITKA  (via teleconference),  spoke in  support of                                                                    
funding for  domestic violence.  She thanked  the Department                                                                    
of Public  Safety (DPS) subcommittee  for its work  to fully                                                                    
fund  victims'  services  through the  Council  on  Domestic                                                                    
Violence and Sexual Assault  (CDVSA). She indicated agencies                                                                    
receiving  funding from  CDVSA  had  recently been  notified                                                                    
that Victims of Crimes Act  (VOCA) funds had been reduced by                                                                    
30 percent for  FY 22. She stressed it meant  there would be                                                                    
a $230,000  cut, which  would have  a devastating  impact on                                                                    
victims of  domestic violence and sexual  assault throughout                                                                    
Alaska.  She reported  that the  organization would  have to                                                                    
cut  its legal  advocacy services  in half,  reduce on  call                                                                    
advocacy,  and  cut  its  children's  programming.  She  had                                                                    
witnessed the  importance of  providing refuge  for victims.                                                                    
She spoke about  the state's high rate  of domestic violence                                                                    
including   violence  against   children.   She  asked   the                                                                    
committee to consider allocating  general funds to cover the                                                                    
gap.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  asked Ms. Wojchik to  restate the reduction                                                                    
amount.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Wojchik answered  that  every  program receiving  CDVSA                                                                    
funding throughout the state would  receive a 30 percent cut                                                                    
to  victims' services.  The Sitka  program would  be cut  by                                                                    
approximately $230,000.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:14:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SABRINA   SUTTON,   PRESIDENT,  KODIAK   BOROUGH   EDUCATION                                                                    
ASSOCIATION, KODIAK  (via teleconference), urged  members to                                                                    
use the 2019 enrollment count  for education funding for the                                                                    
FY  22 budget.  She  provided information  about the  Kodiak                                                                    
Borough  Education  Association.   She  was  concerned  that                                                                    
passing a  budget based on  the 2020 enrollment  count would                                                                    
mean the  schools would  not have  the resources  needed for                                                                    
all of the students going back to classrooms in 2021.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:15:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JONAS  LAMB, PRESIDENT,  ALASKA LIBRARY  ASSOCIATION, JUNEAU                                                                    
(via  teleconference), testified  in support  of the  Alaska                                                                    
library  catalogue  and  the  Statewide  Library  Electronic                                                                    
Doorway (SLED),  two core  library services  benefitting all                                                                    
Alaskans.  He  shared  that   during  the  2020  legislative                                                                    
session $635,900  had been approved  by the  legislature for                                                                    
the items; however, the funding  had been vetoed by Governor                                                                    
Dunleavy.  He  stressed  that  the   need  for  the  funding                                                                    
remained,  driven   by  the  past  seven   years  of  budget                                                                    
reductions  to  library  operational funding.  The  programs                                                                    
acted  as  bridges  across the  states  digital  rural/urban                                                                    
divide   and   provided   equitable  access   to   important                                                                    
resources. He provided statistics  about the increased usage                                                                    
of library  programs during the  pandemic. He  requested the                                                                    
appropriation of $635,900 for the Alaska State Library.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  reported that  the subcommittee  had funded                                                                    
both programs in the subcommittee process.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Ortiz confirmed Co-Chair Foster was correct.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:17:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANDY ANDERSON,  CITY COUNCIL OF DILLINGHAM,  DILLINGHAM (via                                                                    
teleconference),  requested   full  funding   for  community                                                                    
assistance, school  bond debt reimbursement,  the Dillingham                                                                    
regional  jail, the  Dillingham Division  of Motor  Vehicles                                                                    
office, and Power Cost Equalization  (PCE). He reported that                                                                    
Dillingham was  operating in a  perfect storm of  a critical                                                                    
loss  of state,  federal,  and local  financial support.  He                                                                    
detailed  that the  pandemic had  resulted  in lost  revenue                                                                    
from bed and  sales taxes. He provided  statistics about the                                                                    
loss  of  funding  and  increased  expenses.  He  asked  the                                                                    
committee  to  hold  harmless the  community's  shared  fish                                                                    
taxes based on the FY 19 distribution.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  asked for verification that  Mr. Anderson's                                                                    
list included a request  to fully fund community assistance,                                                                    
school  bond  debt  reimbursement, the  Dillingham  regional                                                                    
jail,  the Dillingham  Division  of  Motor Vehicles  office,                                                                    
Power  Cost Equalization  (PCE),  and to  hold harmless  the                                                                    
community's shared fish taxes.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Anderson  agreed. He  noted  he  was having  difficulty                                                                    
hearing due to static on the phone line.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  apologized  for the  poor  connection  and                                                                    
explained that the static was impacting multiple lines.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:22:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MAX ANGELLAN, SELF, KWETHLUK  (via teleconference), spoke in                                                                    
support  of  public broadcasting.  She  shared  that he  had                                                                    
volunteered his time for over  20 years to the radio station                                                                    
KYUK.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
[Mr.  Angellan  was  interrupted   due  to  the  poor  sound                                                                    
quality].                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:23:16 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:33:47 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  indicated there  was  a  problem with  the                                                                    
phone  lines. However,  the  committee  would continue  with                                                                    
public testimony.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:34:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Angellan  continued with his testimony.  He communicated                                                                    
that he served as the  chairman for Bethel Broadcasting Inc.                                                                    
He  reiterated  his  support  for  public  broadcasting.  He                                                                    
stressed  the  importance  of public  broadcasting  for  the                                                                    
region's villages.  He highlighted the importance  of public                                                                    
broadcasting for communication during the pandemic.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:37:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SARAH  HANSON-HOFSTETTER,   WORKING  AGAINST   VIOLENCE  FOR                                                                    
EVERYONE (WAVE),  PETERSBURG (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
support of funding for domestic  violence and sexual assault                                                                    
services.  She  indicated  agencies receiving  funding  from                                                                    
CDVSA had  recently been notified  that VOCA funds  had been                                                                    
reduced  by  $4.1 million  and  that  all victims'  services                                                                    
should expect  a cut of  30 percent  to their grants  for FY                                                                    
22.  She stressed  that  the cut  would  have a  devastating                                                                    
impact on  victims of domestic  violence and  sexual assault                                                                    
throughout  Alaska.  She  asked  the committee  to  help  by                                                                    
finding  a  way  to  cover  the  gap  created  by  the  VOCA                                                                    
shortfall.  She underscored  Alaska's high  rates of  sexual                                                                    
assault and domestic violence.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  thanked   Ms.  Hanson-Hofstetter  for  her                                                                    
testimony and added that her music was known statewide.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms.   Hanson-Hofstetter  appreciated   the  compliment   and                                                                    
thanked the committee.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:40:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TOM   BRICE,   UNIVERSITY   OF   ALASKA   FAIRBANKS   ALUMNI                                                                    
ASSOCIATION, JUNEAU  (via teleconference), spoke  in support                                                                    
of  university  funding.  He  detailed   that  he  had  been                                                                    
tracking  the university  funding since  the late  1980s. He                                                                    
thought  it was  important to  develop  a plan  to stop  the                                                                    
bleeding in  terms of cuts  to the University of  Alaska. He                                                                    
stated  that   the  university  would   generate  engineers,                                                                    
teachers,  and  healthcare  professionals  for  the  state's                                                                    
future.  He believed  coordinated  efforts  to for  COVID-19                                                                    
relief and infrastructure dollars  would help divert limited                                                                    
General   Fund  dollars   back   into   the  classroom.   He                                                                    
underscored  that bad  weather days,  like the  current one,                                                                    
were a  good reminder  of the need  to maintain  plow trucks                                                                    
and public buildings.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:42:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MELISSA  HENSHAW,   PUBLIC  RELATIONS  DIRECTOR,   CITY  AND                                                                    
BOROUGH  OF  SITKA,  SITKA (via  teleconference),  spoke  in                                                                    
support   of  continued   support  for   school  bond   debt                                                                    
reimbursement at 70 percent, as  originally agreed upon. She                                                                    
detailed  that the  proposed budget  was  half the  original                                                                    
commitment, representing  a loss  to Sitka of  $1.6 million.                                                                    
She requested support for  community assistance program that                                                                    
had decreased by more than  half from 2015. She relayed that                                                                    
the proposed  budget for Sitka's  portion was  $415,000. She                                                                    
urged stable  and predictable funding for  school districts.                                                                    
She  reported that  school spending  had averaged  an annual                                                                    
increase of 2.57  percent over the last 10  years. She asked                                                                    
for continued support for the  Alaska Marine Highway System.                                                                    
She thanked the committee.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:43:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CRIS   EICHENLAUB,  SELF,   WASILLA  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
believed  the  state  was   mismanaging  its  resources.  He                                                                    
advocated  for  a  full statutory  Permanent  Fund  Dividend                                                                    
(PFD). He  stated that the  PFD went to  his grandchildren's                                                                    
education  funds. He  believed Alaska  had the  worst school                                                                    
systems  in  the  nation.  He  thought  the  state's  fiscal                                                                    
problem was  a result of  bloated budgets. He  advocated for                                                                    
the repeal  of SB 26.  He thought the legislature  needed to                                                                    
figure out  which formula  to use  for the  PFD. He  did not                                                                    
support  the POMV  formula. He  remarked that  the statutory                                                                    
formula was based on fund earnings.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:46:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROWENA  PALOMAR, EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR, ADVOCATES  FOR VICTIMS                                                                    
OF   VIOLENCE    VALDEZ,   VALDEZ    (via   teleconference),                                                                    
appreciated  Governor  Dunleavy's  recognition of  April  as                                                                    
sexual assault awareness month and  for recognizing the need                                                                    
for  more prosecuting  attorneys  in the  Department of  Law                                                                    
budget to  respond to the  backlog of sexual  assault cases.                                                                    
She thanked the DPS  subcommittee for fully funding victims'                                                                    
services.  She  indicated  agencies receiving  funding  from                                                                    
CDVSA had  recently been notified  that VOCA funds  had been                                                                    
reduced  by  $4.1 million  and  that  all victims'  services                                                                    
should expect  a cut of  30 percent  to their grants  for FY                                                                    
22. She  reported that  the Valdez program  would be  cut by                                                                    
$130,000.  She provided  information about  the organization                                                                    
in Valdez. The organization would  be forced to cut services                                                                    
if the  cut took place. She  asked the committee to  help by                                                                    
finding  a  way  to  cover  the  gap  created  by  the  VOCA                                                                    
shortfall.  She underscored  Alaska's high  rates of  sexual                                                                    
assault and domestic violence.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:49:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RODNEY  DIAL, MAYOR,  KETCHIKAN  GATEWAY BOROUGH,  KETCHIKAN                                                                    
(via  teleconference),  spoke  of  the  difficult  financial                                                                    
times the borough  was currently experiencing. Additionally,                                                                    
citizens  were  experiencing  price  increases  for  general                                                                    
merchandise such  as building  supplies and  shipping costs.                                                                    
He remarked that cruise ships  would likely not return until                                                                    
2022  at  the  earliest,  which had  translated  to  a  high                                                                    
unemployment  rate  in  the region.  He  stressed  that  the                                                                    
city's  tax revenues  had dramatically  decreased. He  asked                                                                    
the legislature to honor its  commitment to school bond debt                                                                    
reimbursement. He  stated that canceling  debt reimbursement                                                                    
was  a discriminatory  action that  only impacted  organized                                                                    
boroughs.  He  also  asked   that  the  legislature  support                                                                    
funding for the AMHS and  community assistance. He asked the                                                                    
legislature to  avoid passing on  new expenses  to organized                                                                    
boroughs.  He  recommended  looking for  ways  to  encourage                                                                    
borough formation  as a  means to  bring the  state's fiscal                                                                    
house in  order. He requested  an increased  distribution of                                                                    
the  American Rescue  Plan  Act (ARPA)  funds  given to  the                                                                    
state sent  to areas of  the state that had  experienced the                                                                    
greatest fiscal hit from the pandemic.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:52:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BOB   SIVERTSEN,  SELF,   KETCHIKAN  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
commented that the  state had been in  deficit spending mode                                                                    
for too  long. He remarked  that the state had  depleted its                                                                    
reserves at an alarming rate.  He stressed that revenues and                                                                    
expenses did not  align, and he did not  believe the deficit                                                                    
could  be fixed  with cuts  alone. He  believed it  would be                                                                    
necessary to implement all broad-based  taxes if a dent were                                                                    
to be made in the deficit. He  did not support a draw on the                                                                    
earnings  reserve  account.  He recommended  addressing  the                                                                    
appropriate use of  the Permanent Fund through  the POMV. He                                                                    
also  suggested  a  POMV  of   4.75  percent.  He  supported                                                                    
significantly smaller dividends and  a larger portion of the                                                                    
funds  directed  to  state  spending  needs.  He  noted  the                                                                    
economic impact of cruise ships  being canceled in FY 21. He                                                                    
reported the community  had suffered a $200  million loss in                                                                    
cruise  passenger   spending,  a  60  percent   increase  in                                                                    
unemployment and  a $33  million loss  to city  revenues. He                                                                    
stated  that  revenue   replacement  for  local  governments                                                                    
needed  to  be considered.  He  asserted  there had  been  a                                                                    
disparity  in the  ARPA  funds  distribution. The  community                                                                    
needed  help  rather  than more  expenses.  He  thanked  the                                                                    
committee for its time.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:55:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  PURCELL,   KBBI  PUBLIC  BROADCASTING,   HOMER  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke  in  support  of  public  radio.  He                                                                    
provided information  about his  work background  in Alaska.                                                                    
He shared  that in his  work in emergency management  he had                                                                    
learned about the critical role  that public radio played in                                                                    
preparing   for,   responding   to,  and   recovering   from                                                                    
disasters.  He  detailed  that public  radio  covered  news,                                                                    
public   meetings,  and   could  provide   ongoing  critical                                                                    
information. He  reviewed several of the  benefits of public                                                                    
radio.  He explained  that  public  radio supported  federal                                                                    
agencies,  and  faith-based  and  other  voluntary  agencies                                                                    
assisting individuals and families.  He elaborated that KBBI                                                                    
had  a cooperative  agreement  for emergency  communications                                                                    
with the  City of  Homer. He  underscored that  public radio                                                                    
was a critical resource. He thanked the committee.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:57:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROXANNE  MURPHY, ASSISTANT  CITY  MANAGER,  CITY OF  VALDEZ,                                                                    
VALDEZ (via  teleconference), advocated for  maintaining the                                                                    
Valdez  DMV  office,  full  funding  for  school  bond  debt                                                                    
reimbursement, and  support for year-round  AMHS operations.                                                                    
Additionally,  she asked  the committee  to deny  a proposal                                                                    
for  the  city  to  pay for  misdemeanor  prosecutions.  She                                                                    
thanked the committee for its work.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:57:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER CANFIELD,  CHAIR, KTOO  BOARD OF  DIRECTORS, JUNEAU                                                                    
(via   teleconference),   spoke   in   strong   support   of                                                                    
approximately  $1.6 million  for rural  public broadcasting.                                                                    
She  elaborated that  rural  radio  stations provided  vital                                                                    
public safety  alerts, potentially  life-saving information.                                                                    
She  reported that  KTOO supported  the inclusion  of intent                                                                    
language   that  would   direct   the  Public   Broadcasting                                                                    
Commission  to  allocate  the  funding  only  to  the  rural                                                                    
stations, many  of which had  struggled during  the pandemic                                                                    
to maintain  local fundraising.  She explained  that without                                                                    
the funding request, stations  may suffer further reductions                                                                    
to  staff  and  services.  She stressed  that  the  stations                                                                    
should always be considered  vital state infrastructure. She                                                                    
added   that   radio   worked   when   other   communication                                                                    
technologies were unavailable.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:59:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAWSON  MOORE, BOARD  PRESIDENT,  ADVOCATES  FOR VICTIMS  OF                                                                    
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, VALDEZ  (via teleconference), thanked the                                                                    
DPS subcommittee  for fully funding victims'  services under                                                                    
CDVSA. He  indicated agencies  receiving funding  from CDVSA                                                                    
had recently been notified that  VOCA funds had been reduced                                                                    
by  $4.1  million  and that  all  victims'  services  should                                                                    
expect a  cut of 30  percent to their  grants for FY  22. He                                                                    
underscored  that crime  victims should  not expect  to bear                                                                    
the brunt  of the  cuts. He  provided information  about the                                                                    
organization  and  its  services  in Valdez.  He  asked  the                                                                    
committee to  consider allocating  state funds to  cover the                                                                    
gap created  by the VOCA shortfall.  He underscored Alaska's                                                                    
high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  asked  about   the  shortfall  in  federal                                                                    
funding.   He  wondered   if  the   program  had   not  been                                                                    
reauthorized.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Moore replied that the  situation had only just occurred                                                                    
in recent days and he did not have any additional details.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:02:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HELEN CLOUGH,  SELF, JUNEAU  (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
support  of the  AMHS. She  was  appalled with  the lack  of                                                                    
funding resulting  in unreliable service. She  stressed that                                                                    
inconsistent and unreliable service was  a death nail to the                                                                    
system.  She shared  that she  was  no longer  able to  plan                                                                    
trips   involving   the   ferry.  She   mentioned   frequent                                                                    
breakdowns  and  maintenance  issues.  She  urged  increased                                                                    
funding, improved consistent  maintenance, long-term funding                                                                    
for  replacement vessels,  use  of marine  highway staff  to                                                                    
make  repairs, and  finding  someway to  have  at least  two                                                                    
vessels  always operating  in Southeast.  She was  concerned                                                                    
with  the interruption  of tourism  because  of the  service                                                                    
breakdown.  She  stressed  that  the  ferry  system  was  an                                                                    
essential service.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:04:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TANYA  KVASNIKOFF,  SELF, DILLINGHAM  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
shared  that she  currently lived  in  a shelter  and was  a                                                                    
domestic  violence  survivor. She  did  not  know where  she                                                                    
would  be  without   a  shelter  in  the   region.  She  was                                                                    
gratefully receiving life-saving  support. She advocated the                                                                    
appropriation  of  state  general  funds  to  fill  the  gap                                                                    
created by federal funding cut to VOCA.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:05:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ERYN  RUPPERT,  RESOURCE  ADVOCATE,   WOMEN  IN  SAFE  HOMES                                                                    
(WISH),  KETCHIKAN  (via  teleconference), thanked  the  DPS                                                                    
subcommittee  for  fully  funding  victims'  services  under                                                                    
CDVSA. She  indicated agencies receiving funding  from CDVSA                                                                    
had recently been notified that  VOCA funds had been reduced                                                                    
by  $4.1  million  and that  all  victims'  services  should                                                                    
expect a  cut of 30 percent  to their grants for  FY 22. She                                                                    
detailed that  the cut would  be approximately  $320,000 for                                                                    
WISH.  She  provided  details about  the  organization.  She                                                                    
highlighted that the organization  would lose its counselor,                                                                    
child  advocate, and  legal  advocate if  the  cuts came  to                                                                    
fruition.  The  program would  not  have  adequate staff  to                                                                    
cover on call services. She  asked the committee to consider                                                                    
allocating state funds to cover  the gap created by the VOCA                                                                    
shortfall.  She underscored  Alaska's high  rates of  sexual                                                                    
assault and domestic violence.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:08:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BEVERLY RICHARDSON,  SELF, PETERSBURG  (via teleconference),                                                                    
spoke in  support of public  broadcasting funding  under the                                                                    
Department of  Administration budget  for rural  Alaska. She                                                                    
mentioned  several  benefits  of  public  radio  in  smaller                                                                    
communities  off the  road system.  She  shared that  public                                                                    
radio provided  up to  date access  to national,  state, and                                                                    
local  news. She  read a  list of  the programming  that was                                                                    
beneficial to communities and  residents. She explained that                                                                    
COVID-19  had   been  an   opportunity  to   appreciate  the                                                                    
importance of public  radio. There had been  a one-hour show                                                                    
providing updates about the pandemic.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster indicated the static  on the line was likely                                                                    
due to weather.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:11:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DEBORAH  HAYDEN, SELF,  KETCHIKAN (via  teleconference), did                                                                    
not support  additional PFDs. She  shared that  her economic                                                                    
development career  spanned 30 years. She  stressed that the                                                                    
legislature should  not spend any  excess revenues  from the                                                                    
oil price increase on PFDs.  She stressed that oil would not                                                                    
be  around  forever and  that  world  policies were  gearing                                                                    
towards  alternative energies.  She  would  rather have  any                                                                    
excess funds deposited  into the principle of  the fund. She                                                                    
advocated putting  as much money  into the fund  as possible                                                                    
to ensure  that the fund  would be available in  the future.                                                                    
She  encouraged  the  legislature to  implement  any  needed                                                                    
taxes to  close budget gaps. She  did not want to  see money                                                                    
taken from the ERA. She thanked the committee.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:13:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CARMEN   LOWRY,  EXECUTIVE   DIRECTOR,  ALASKA   NETWORK  ON                                                                    
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE  AND SEXUAL ASSAULT (ANDVSA),  JUNEAU (via                                                                    
teleconference),  stressed   that  victims'   services  were                                                                    
facing  an abrupt  cut of  up to  $6 million.  She indicated                                                                    
agencies  receiving funding  from  CDVSA  had recently  been                                                                    
notified  that VOCA  funds  had been  reduced  and that  all                                                                    
victims'  services should  expect  a cut  of  30 percent  to                                                                    
their grants  for FY 22.  She shared  that she had  sent the                                                                    
committee  written  testimony.  She referenced  all  of  the                                                                    
victims' services programs in  Anchorage. She listed how the                                                                    
reductions would impact communities.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  noted that the  audio connection  was poor,                                                                    
and he asked Ms. Lowry to call back in.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:15:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JACLYN SALLEE, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), shared                                                                    
that  she was  the president  and CEO  of KNBA  public radio                                                                    
that served Anchorage  and Mat-Su with news,  culture, and a                                                                    
special emphasis  in serving  the Alaska  Native population.                                                                    
She provided information about  her personal background. She                                                                    
spoke  in  support of  restoring  funding  for public  radio                                                                    
stations  in  the  amount  of  $1.6  million  with  specific                                                                    
language  that  distributes  the   funding  to  the  smaller                                                                    
stations  throughout  the  state.  She provided  a  list  of                                                                    
stations that  she thought deserved  the funding.  She spoke                                                                    
of the benefits  of funding public radio. Most  of the rural                                                                    
stations  could  not  sustain the  economic  losses  due  to                                                                    
COVID-19.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:19:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lowry  restated her testimony. She  provided information                                                                    
about  ANDVSA.  She  stressed that  victims'  services  were                                                                    
facing an abrupt and unexpected  reduction in grant funds of                                                                    
up to  $6 million. She indicated  agencies receiving funding                                                                    
from CDVSA  had recently been  notified that VOCA  funds had                                                                    
been reduced and that all  victims' services should expect a                                                                    
cut of  30 percent  to their  grants for  FY 22.  She shared                                                                    
that she  had sent  the committee written  testimony showing                                                                    
what the  cuts would  look like  for specific  agencies. She                                                                    
referenced  all   of  the  victims'  services   programs  in                                                                    
Anchorage.  She  listed  how  the  reductions  would  impact                                                                    
communities.   She  shared   that  rural   communities  were                                                                    
especially vulnerable. She  supported the governor's efforts                                                                    
to address  domestic violence and sexual  assault. She asked                                                                    
members to  consider allocating state general  funds to fill                                                                    
the gap of federal funding.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  asked  what   caused  the  abrupt  federal                                                                    
funding.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lowry replied  that the federal VOCA  funds allocated to                                                                    
each state came from crime  victim funds. She explained that                                                                    
crime victim funds  were not taxpayer funds;  the funds were                                                                    
the  result of  fines and  penalties, mostly  from corporate                                                                    
criminal  cases.  She  elaborated that  several  years  back                                                                    
there  was a  change  in  the way  some  of  the cases  were                                                                    
prosecuted  and   there  became   a  greater   leverage  for                                                                    
prosecutors  at the  federal level  to  decide whether  they                                                                    
were going to prosecute  criminally or civilly. She detailed                                                                    
that many of  the cases had been prosecuted  civilly and any                                                                    
associated fines  went into the  general Treasury.  Over the                                                                    
course  of  several  years there  had  been  fewer  criminal                                                                    
convictions and fines being allocated to the VOCA fund.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:24:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TOM  ABBOTT, SELF,  PETERSBURG  (via teleconference),  asked                                                                    
for the  restoration of partial  to full funding  for public                                                                    
broadcasting.  He  indicated  that  in the  past  two  years                                                                    
public  broadcasting   funding  had   been  vetoed   by  the                                                                    
governor. He  underscored that public  radio in  rural areas                                                                    
of Alaska  was vital  and provided  life-saving information.                                                                    
He  highlighted  of several  incidents  in  which the  radio                                                                    
stations  provided  critical  safety information.  He  urged                                                                    
members to provide funding for public radio.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:28:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GHERT  ABBOTT, SELF,  KETCHIKAN (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in  support  of full  Medicaid  funding.  He referenced  the                                                                    
economic damage the  town had suffered due  to the pandemic.                                                                    
He stressed the importance  of maintaining the social safety                                                                    
net  for the  community.  He  stated that  any  cuts to  the                                                                    
public  healthcare budget  would compound  the economic  and                                                                    
human  devastation the  community had  suffered. He  did not                                                                    
want to see any health  programs cut. Additionally, he spoke                                                                    
in  support increased  revenue  via a  state  income tax  in                                                                    
order for the public healthcare system to remain secure.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:30:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BLUE  SHIBLER,  SELF,  JUNEAU (via  teleconference),  shared                                                                    
that she was an early  educator. She appreciated the funding                                                                    
for early education  and Pre-K programs. She  shared that it                                                                    
had  been exciting  to follow  multiple bills  introduced in                                                                    
the current  year that would  move towards the  expansion of                                                                    
Pre-K  education.  She  reported that  studies  showed  that                                                                    
investing in Pre-K  reduced the need for  public spending on                                                                    
remedial  education,  criminal  justice systems,  and  other                                                                    
social  support  programs.  She hoped  the  money  currently                                                                    
included in the budget for early education was maintained.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Rasmussen thanked  Blue  for  calling in  to                                                                    
testify.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:31:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VIKKI JO  KENNEDY, SELF, JUNEAU (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in strong  support of funding essential  services. She noted                                                                    
that the state had a  Permanent Fund that was established to                                                                    
cover  the needs  of  Alaska. She  advocated  using the  ERA                                                                    
funds to provide services. She  supported a reasonable state                                                                    
sales tax.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:34:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOY LYON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,  ASSOCIATION FOR THE EDUCATION                                                                    
OF  YOUNG CHILDREN,  JUNEAU (via  teleconference), spoke  in                                                                    
support of  stable funding for  Pre-K education.  She listed                                                                    
programs  that  benefited  young  children.  She  urged  the                                                                    
legislature  to make  the investment  in Alaska's  children.                                                                    
She explained that the increase  would work towards the goal                                                                    
of all children  reading by the third  grade. She emphasized                                                                    
that early  education was the  foundation for the  future of                                                                    
Alaska. She thanked the committee for its work.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  indicated  the  committee  would  continue                                                                    
hearing  public testimony  in the  following  day, April  9,                                                                    
2021 at 1:30 p.m.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
HB  69  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HB  71  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:38:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 3:38 p.m.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB69 HF Public Testimony 4.8.21.pdf HFIN 4/8/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 69