Legislature(2021 - 2022)ADAMS 519

03/03/2022 01:30 PM House FINANCE

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
01:33:23 PM Start
01:35:07 PM HB281 || HB282
02:13:06 PM Public Testimony: Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Delta Junction, Dillingham, Glennallen, Valdez, Wrangell, Homer,
04:00:37 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony -- 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
2 Minute Limit
Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Delta Junction,
Dillingham, Glennallen, Valdez, Wrangell, Homer,
Ketchikan, Kodiak, Seward, Tok
Please sign-in\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                                                                                       
                       March 3, 2022                                                                                            
                         1:33 p.m.                                                                                              
1:33:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Foster  called the House Finance  Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 1:33 p.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Kelly Merrick, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Sara Rasmussen (via teleconference)                                                                              
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Ben Carpenter                                                                                                    
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Millie  Ryan,  Vice  President,  Key  Coalition  of  Alaska,                                                                    
Juneau; Brenda Stanfill,  Executive Director, Alaska Network                                                                    
on  Domestic  Violence  and   Sexual  Assault,  Juneau;  Don                                                                    
Habeger,  Coalition Coordinator,  Juneau Reentry  Coalition,                                                                    
Juneau;  Noah  Williams,  Self,  Juneau;  Tom  Brice,  Self,                                                                    
Juneau; John Sonin, Self, Juneau.                                                                                               
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Bill  Trembley,  Self,   Petersburg;  Scott  Arndt,  Member,                                                                    
Kodiak  Island  Borough  Assembly, Kodiak;  Robert  Purcell,                                                                    
Board of  Directors, KBBI Public  Radio, Homer;  Dave Aplin,                                                                    
Self, Homer;  Travis Million,  CEO, Copper  Valley Electric,                                                                    
Glennallen;  Donna  Aderhold,  Homer  City  Council,  Homer;                                                                    
Becky Meiers,  General Manager, KCAW Radio,  Sitka; Michelle                                                                    
Mahoney,  Sitkans   Against  Family  Violence,   Sitka;  Bob                                                                    
Sivertsen,  Alaska Commission  on Aging,  Ketchikan; Janette                                                                    
Bowers, City  Manager, City of Seward,  Seward; Pat Branson,                                                                    
Mayor,  City  of  Kodiak,   Kodiak;  Grant  Echohawk,  WISH,                                                                    
Ketchikan;  Suzanne  Vuillet-Smith,  Secretary of  Board  of                                                                    
Directors,  KHNS Lynn  Canal  Broadcasting, Haines;  Jessica                                                                    
Whitaker,  Administrative   Operations  Manager,  Behavioral                                                                    
Health,   Southeast   Alaska  Regional   Health   Consortium                                                                    
(SEARHC),   Wrangell;    Tina   Russell,    Direct   Service                                                                    
Coordinator,  Advocates  for  Victims of  Violence,  Valdez;                                                                    
Tony  Jackson,  Southeast   Alaska  for  Independent  Living                                                                    
(SAIL), Sitka; Mandy Cole, AWARE,  Juneau; James Kerr, Chief                                                                    
of   Police,  Petersburg   Police  Department,   Petersburg;                                                                    
Marilyn  Casteel,  SAFE,  Dillingham; Cindy  Sweat,  General                                                                    
Manager,   KSTK   Public   Broadcasting,   Wrangell;   Arika                                                                    
Paquette,  Women in  Safe Homes  (WISH), Ketchikan;  Eleanor                                                                    
Hewitt,  Self, Ketchikan;  Janet  Elisovsky, Self,  Cordova;                                                                    
Charles  Barker, Self,  Kodiak; Deb  Potter, Self,  Skagway;                                                                    
Robert  Baty,  Chief  of Police,  Sitka  Police  Department,                                                                    
Sitka;  Joyanna Geisler,  Independent Living  Center, Homer;                                                                    
Ellen  Frankenstein, Artchange  Inc., Sitka;  Suzi Townsley,                                                                    
Program  Director and  Lead  Advocate,  Seward Safe  Harbor,                                                                    
Seward;  Penny   Lample,  Kodiak  Women's   Resource  Crisis                                                                    
Center, Kodiak.                                                                                                                 
HB 281    APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS                                                                                  
          HB 281 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
HB 282    APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET                                                                                          
          HB 282 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 281                                                                                                            
     "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. 282                                                                                                            
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     capital    expenses   of    the   state's    integrated                                                                    
     comprehensive  mental  health program;  making  capital                                                                    
     appropriations  and  supplemental  appropriations;  and                                                                    
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
1:35:07 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Foster  relayed  that  the  committee  would  hear                                                                    
public  testimony from  the  communities  of Juneau,  Sitka,                                                                    
Petersburg, Delta  Junction, Dillingham,  Glenallen, Valdez,                                                                    
Wrangell,  Homer, Ketchikan,  Kodiak,  Seward,  and Tok.  He                                                                    
relayed the call in numbers.  He reported that the committee                                                                    
would be hearing public testimony  on the governor's version                                                                    
of the budget  and the committee substitute  which would not                                                                    
be  released until  Friday because  of the  length of  floor                                                                    
session the prior  day. However, the changes in  the CS were                                                                    
reviewed  in   the  finance  subcommittee  reports   in  the                                                                    
previous day. He recessed the meeting until 2:00 p.m.                                                                           
1:41:48 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
2:03:37 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Foster repeated  the information  he had  provided                                                                    
earlier about  call-in numbers.  He indicated  testimony was                                                                    
limited  to 2  minutes.  He anticipated  that the  committee                                                                    
substitute (CS) would be provided  prior to public testimony                                                                    
the  following  day. He  relayed  that  budget reports  were                                                                    
available on  the Legislative  Finance Division  website. He                                                                    
noted  that public  testimony  was  available statewide  the                                                                    
following day from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.                                                                                      
2:09:33 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Johnson  thanked  Co-Chair  Foster  for  the                                                                    
explanation.  She  had  some   concern  with  taking  public                                                                    
testimony without  having the  CS in  hand and  requested an                                                                    
update of the CS changes when it was received.                                                                                  
Co-Chair Foster  would provide a  simplified summary  of the                                                                    
changes in the bill. He noted  the numbers section of the CS                                                                    
was under the purview  of the finance subcommittees, whereas                                                                    
the language  section encompassed the bigger  picture (e.g.,                                                                    
inflation  proofing, Permanent  Fund  Dividend, school  bond                                                                    
debt, etcetera).                                                                                                                
Representative Johnson  thanked Co-Chair Foster  for putting                                                                    
the information on the record.                                                                                                  
^PUBLIC TESTIMONY:  JUNEAU,    SITKA,   PETERSBURG,    DELTA                                                                  
JUNCTION, DILLINGHAM, GLENNALLEN, VALDEZ, WRANGELL, HOMER,                                                                    
KETCHIKAN, KODIAK, SEWARD, TOK                                                                                                
2:13:06 PM                                                                                                                    
BILL TREMBLEY, SELF,  PETERSBURG (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in support  of public broadcasting. He  was disappointed the                                                                    
legislature  had not  been able  to override  the governor's                                                                    
vetoes  of public  broadcasting funding  for the  past three                                                                    
years. He  reported that stations  had seen state  funds cut                                                                    
by   close  to   50   percent  during   the  former   Walker                                                                    
administration, but  the funding  level had  been kept  at a                                                                    
certain  level for  stations to  work around;  however, that                                                                    
was no  longer the case.  Some radio stations had  been able                                                                    
to  keep afloat  during the  past several  years with  COVID                                                                    
relief  funds  from  the federal  government;  however,  the                                                                    
federal funding was running out.  He shared that some of the                                                                    
smaller stations had not been able  to keep up and may be at                                                                    
risk  of  losing federal  grants.  He  highlighted the  many                                                                    
benefits  to   public  radio.  He  remarked   that  whenever                                                                    
elections  came around,  legislators and  the administration                                                                    
were quick  to get on the  radio to talk about  policies. He                                                                    
stated it  would be nice  to have the service  supported. He                                                                    
noted  that communities  had competing  concerns to  pay for                                                                    
such as housing, health, business,  and COVID related costs.                                                                    
He advocated state support for public radio.                                                                                    
2:16:34 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT ARNDT, MEMBER, KODIAK  ISLAND BOROUGH ASSEMBLY, KODIAK                                                                    
(via teleconference),  spoke in support of  school bond debt                                                                    
reimbursement.  He  mentioned  the challenges  of  receiving                                                                    
only  a percentage  of a  full reimbursement  over the  past                                                                    
couple  of  years.  He  stated   that  the  legislature  had                                                                    
approved  full reimbursement  in the  current year,  but the                                                                    
community had only  been receiving 37 percent  since July 1.                                                                    
He requested full reimbursement for  FY 23 going forward. He                                                                    
asked for  reconsideration of additional funding  to make up                                                                    
for the veto the governor imposed  in FY 21. He relayed that                                                                    
Kodiak had been using school  maintenance funds to cover the                                                                    
missing funding.  He spoke  in support  of full  funding for                                                                    
community assistance.                                                                                                           
2:19:01 PM                                                                                                                    
MILLIE  RYAN,  VICE  PRESIDENT,  KEY  COALITION  OF  ALASKA,                                                                    
JUNEAU,  relayed  that  the   Key  Coalition  advocated  for                                                                    
individuals    with     intellectual    and    developmental                                                                    
disabilities.  She  thanked  the committee  for  the  budget                                                                    
increment   to   draw   70   people   from   the   waitlist.                                                                    
Additionally,  she  thanked  the committee  for  the  intent                                                                    
language  asking   the  Department  of  Health   and  Social                                                                    
Services to  develop a five-year plan  in collaboration with                                                                    
stakeholders to  eradicate the waitlist and  report annually                                                                    
to the legislature  on progress made. She  reported that the                                                                    
waitlist  had been  an issue  for  30 years,  but thanks  to                                                                    
support  from the  legislature there  was an  opportunity to                                                                    
turn the curve.                                                                                                                 
2:20:15 PM                                                                                                                    
BRENDA  STANFILL,  EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR,  ALASKA  NETWORK  ON                                                                    
DOMESTIC  VIOLENCE  AND  SEXUAL  ASSAULT,  JUNEAU,  provided                                                                    
information   about  the   organization.  She   thanked  the                                                                    
committee  for  supporting  the  services  the  organization                                                                    
provided.   She  shared   that  the   funding  allowed   the                                                                    
organization to  perform lifesaving services  and prevention                                                                    
work.  She  expressed  gratitude that  the  legislature  had                                                                    
covered  a  $6 million  shortfall  in  funding the  previous                                                                    
year. She shared programs had  continued to provide services                                                                    
while navigating  COVID. She detailed  new systems  had been                                                                    
set up  to allow for  different methods of  service delivery                                                                    
during  the pandemic.  She highlighted  the budget  included                                                                    
full  funding  for  the Council  on  Domestic  Violence  and                                                                    
Sexual   Assault  (CDVSA)   grant  line.   The  organization                                                                    
appreciated   the  budget   support   for  prevention,   new                                                                    
prosecutors, troopers,  village public safety  officers, the                                                                    
crime lab, and other.                                                                                                           
2:22:51 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Rasmussen  thanked   Ms.  Stanfill  for  her                                                                    
testimony  and   if  the  legislature  had   overlooked  any                                                                    
budgetary needs to help support survivors.                                                                                      
Ms. Stanfill responded that flat  funding was never the same                                                                    
as the funding from the  previous year. She highlighted that                                                                    
with  the  increase in  fuel  prices,  the increase  in  the                                                                    
utility cost for the organizations   facilities went up. The                                                                    
organizations   budget  primarily   included  buildings  and                                                                    
people.  She shared  that  the program  operated  at a  lean                                                                    
level.  The   organization  would   appreciate  it   if  the                                                                    
legislature took the situation into consideration.                                                                              
2:23:52 PM                                                                                                                    
DON   HABEGER,   COALITION   COORDINATOR,   JUNEAU   REENTRY                                                                    
COALITION,   JUNEAU,  relayed   that   the  Juneau   Reentry                                                                    
Coalition's  mission promoting  success after  incarceration                                                                    
to reduce  recidivism and increase public  safety in Juneau.                                                                    
The  coalition  requested  additional funds  for  behavioral                                                                    
health   and  treatment   and   recovery  grants   including                                                                    
behavioral health  prevention and early  intervention grants                                                                    
to  providers and  peer support  programs. He  reported that                                                                    
reentry  had become  increasingly  challenging  in the  past                                                                    
couple of  years. He elaborated that  no-visitation policies                                                                    
in Department of Corrections facilities had disrupted pro-                                                                      
social  connections.  Additionally,   case  management  pre-                                                                    
planning  through  traditional in-person  relationships  had                                                                    
ceased  and   community  treatment  providers   had  reduced                                                                    
capacity.  All   of  the   issues  presented   stressors  to                                                                    
successful  reentry. He  relayed that  the investments  were                                                                    
warranted  to  enable  individuals to  successfully  reenter                                                                    
2:26:15 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  PURCELL,  BOARD  OF DIRECTORS,  KBBI  PUBLIC  RADIO,                                                                    
HOMER  (via  teleconference),  spoke in  support  of  public                                                                    
radio.  He provided  information  about  his background.  He                                                                    
highlighted   the   importance   of  public   radio   during                                                                    
emergencies and  the recovery  of emergencies.  He explained                                                                    
that  radio  provided  a  much   broader  service  than  the                                                                    
emergency broadcast  system. He discussed the  importance of                                                                    
being  able  to  keep  a  community  informed  of  emergency                                                                    
situations. He  stated that public  radio became  the avenue                                                                    
for  government  agencies  and  nonprofits  during  recovery                                                                    
periods.  He  pointed  out  there  was  not  an  alternative                                                                    
structure  for  the  communication. He  believed  the  state                                                                    
needed  to  begin  contributing to  public  radio  again  to                                                                    
provide  the  stability  and security  needed  in  order  to                                                                    
provide the service to communities and citizens.                                                                                
2:29:05 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVE  APLIN, SELF,  HOMER  (via  teleconference), urged  the                                                                    
reinstatement  of   state  funding  for  the   public  radio                                                                    
network.   He  depended   on  public   radio  in   times  of                                                                    
emergencies   such  as   wildfires,  tsunami   warnings,  or                                                                    
earthquakes.  He had  followed  the  weekly COVID  broadcast                                                                    
from local  leaders and institutions to  understand what was                                                                    
going on during the pandemic.  He stressed that public radio                                                                    
was   a  critical   component  of   the  states    emergency                                                                    
management system.  He also relied  on radio to keep  him up                                                                    
to  date  on  events   including  politics,  fisheries,  and                                                                    
tourism. He spoke to the  quality of the content. He pointed                                                                    
out  that  public radio  had  been  operating without  state                                                                    
funding  for  the  past  three years.  He  believed  it  was                                                                    
important to bring the state  support back into the picture.                                                                    
He highlighted that state  support leveraged federal funding                                                                    
and donations by individuals.                                                                                                   
2:31:57 PM                                                                                                                    
TRAVIS  MILLION,  CEO,  COPPER VALLEY  ELECTRIC,  GLENNALLEN                                                                    
(via teleconference), stated the  legislature had passed the                                                                    
transportation     and    infrastructure     debt    service                                                                    
reimbursement authorization in the  early 2000s. He detailed                                                                    
that  the beneficiaries  had primarily  been municipalities,                                                                    
but Copper  Valley Electric was  included. He  reported that                                                                    
the company  had received $351,200  annually as part  of the                                                                    
program to  help pay off the  debt for a project  in Valdez.                                                                    
He  stated that  the entire  program had  been eliminated  a                                                                    
couple  of  years  back.  He   informed  the  committee  the                                                                    
companys   capital budget  remained  tight  and limited.  He                                                                    
stated that if the funding  was available, the company could                                                                    
find ways to produce  additional hydroelectric power for its                                                                    
members. He elaborated that the  projects would increase the                                                                    
economic  production   of  renewable  electricity   for  the                                                                    
communities of Copper Basin,  Valdez, and surrounding areas.                                                                    
He requested the reinstatement of the program.                                                                                  
2:33:45 PM                                                                                                                    
DONNA   ADERHOLD,    HOMER   CITY   COUNCIL,    HOMER   (via                                                                    
teleconference), spoke  in support of funding  for community                                                                    
assistance,  community  jails,  the municipal  harbor  grant                                                                    
program,  and  public  broadcasting.  She  communicated  the                                                                    
communitys    support  for   community  assistance   at  the                                                                    
statutory  formula  level;  however,  full  recapitalization                                                                    
would require  another $28.2  million. She  highlighted that                                                                    
many users  of the city jail  came from outside the  city by                                                                    
state  troopers. The  community  supported  the proposal  to                                                                    
fund  community jails  with an  additional  $4 million.  The                                                                    
community  also supported  full  funding  for the  municipal                                                                    
harbor grant  program. The program helped  complete deferred                                                                    
maintenance  from when  state  harbors  were transferred  to                                                                    
municipal  ownership.   She  stated   the  program   was  an                                                                    
effective and  equitable mechanism for  completing projects,                                                                    
leveraging a 50 percent local  share in funded projects. The                                                                    
city  also supported  funding for  public broadcasting.  She                                                                    
discussed  the important  emergency communications  provided                                                                    
by public radio. She spoke to the benefits of public radio.                                                                     
2:35:52 PM                                                                                                                    
BECKY  MEIERS,  GENERAL  MANAGER,  KCAW  RADIO,  SITKA  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke in  support  of  funding for  public                                                                    
radio  broadcasting.   She  requested  funding   for  public                                                                    
broadcasting  to  allow   stations  to  continue  supporting                                                                    
communities,  communications, and  emergency infrastructure.                                                                    
She  shared  that  public  radio  stations  worked  hard  to                                                                    
bolster  public  safety  efforts  and the  way  of  life  in                                                                    
Alaska. She  provided further detail  about the  benefits of                                                                    
public radio. She shared that  public radio had not received                                                                    
state  funding for  the past  three years.  She asked  for a                                                                    
reinstatement  of   the  funds.  She   appreciated  members'                                                                    
2:38:03 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHELLE  MAHONEY, SITKANS  AGAINST  FAMILY VIOLENCE,  SITKA                                                                    
(via   teleconference),    supported   the    House   budget                                                                    
subcommittee recommendation  to use $3.5 million  in general                                                                    
funds  to replace  the temporary  federal  funds for  grants                                                                    
that supported community-based  domestic violence and sexual                                                                    
assault  programs statewide,  specifically for  children and                                                                    
families experiencing  domestic violence or  sexual assault.                                                                    
She   discussed  services   the  organization   provided  to                                                                    
survivors   of  domestic   violence,  sexual   assault,  and                                                                    
stalking. The  grants they received  from the  Department of                                                                    
Public Safety allowed the  organization to provide emergency                                                                    
shelter,  legal   advocacy,  and  other.  She   thanked  the                                                                    
subcommittee  for recognizing  the  critical  nature of  the                                                                    
2:39:37 PM                                                                                                                    
BOB SIVERTSEN,  ALASKA COMMISSION  ON AGING,  KETCHIKAN (via                                                                    
teleconference), spoke  in support  of the House  Health and                                                                    
Social   Services  subcommittee's   recommendation  to   add                                                                    
language  to  increase  funding   to  grants  for  home  and                                                                    
community  based  services.   He  highlighted  that  states                                                                     
senior population had increased by  51 percent over the past                                                                    
ten years.  Additionally, the cost  of living  had increased                                                                    
by  over 20  percent during  the same  timeframe. He  stated                                                                    
that without  additional funding,  providers would  be asked                                                                    
to do less  with less. He elaborated that  the funding would                                                                    
support   services  including   meals,  homemaking,   family                                                                    
caregivers, safety,  and more. He referenced  the increasing                                                                    
senior  population in  the coming  years. The  funding could                                                                    
help provide a higher quality of life for seniors.                                                                              
Vice-Chair Ortiz  thanked the testifier  for calling  in and                                                                    
advocating for a worthy cause.                                                                                                  
2:41:49 PM                                                                                                                    
JANETTE BOWERS,  CITY MANAGER, CITY  OF SEWARD,  SEWARD (via                                                                    
teleconference), supported funding  for community jails. She                                                                    
highlighted  that although  the  jails were  referred to  as                                                                    
community  jails, they  were state  jails  operated for  the                                                                    
state by municipalities. She  provided information about the                                                                    
jail  located   in  Seward  that  operated   under  a  state                                                                    
contract.  She relayed  that the  city had  been underfunded                                                                    
for many years. She reported  the city was underfunded by 47                                                                    
percent  in   2022.  She  elaborated   that  the   city  had                                                                    
demonstrated its willingness to be  a good partner. The city                                                                    
understood  that  if  it stopped  operating  the  jail,  the                                                                    
burden  would   rest  entirely  on   the  state.   The  city                                                                    
understood the  Department of Corrections and  Department of                                                                    
Public  Safety would  be negatively  affected, and  the city                                                                    
did  not wish  to further  burden the  departments. However,                                                                    
the city  wanted to be funded  and for city residents  to no                                                                    
longer make  up for the  funding deficit for the  state jail                                                                    
operated by Seward.                                                                                                             
2:43:41 PM                                                                                                                    
PAT   BRANSON,   MAYOR,   CITY  OF   KODIAK,   KODIAK   (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke  in  support of  the  subcommittee's                                                                    
addition of $4 million to  increase funding for the regional                                                                    
community  jail  and  pretrial services  program  under  the                                                                    
Department of  Corrections. She shared  that the city  had a                                                                    
jail services  contract with the  department since  1960 and                                                                    
two years  back, new pretrial  services had been  added. The                                                                    
city's willingness  to operate a jail  saved the departments                                                                    
a tremendous amount of money.  She elaborated that the costs                                                                    
to operate the jail had  been underfunded by almost $200,000                                                                    
in FY 21. The jail  provided a secure detention facility for                                                                    
the  Kodiak  Island  road  system  and  offered  a  regional                                                                    
solution supporting  six surrounding villages.  She provided                                                                    
additional detail  about the jail.  The city  also supported                                                                    
full funding  for the Alaska  Marine Highway  System (AMHS).                                                                    
She provided  additional detail about the  benefits of AMHS.                                                                    
The  city  supported  community assistance.  She  personally                                                                    
advocated in support of public radio.                                                                                           
Co-Chair Merrick indicated she  and Representative LeBon had                                                                    
traveled to Kodiak and appreciated the city's hospitality.                                                                      
2:46:29 PM                                                                                                                    
GRANT ECHOHAWK, WISH,  KETCHIKAN (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in support  for WISHs  sexual assault  and domestic violence                                                                    
program and any additional  community funding for prevention                                                                    
addressing  intimate partner  violence  and substance  abuse                                                                    
disorders.  He shared  that the  programs reduced  substance                                                                    
use, crime, and high school  dropouts. He furthered that the                                                                    
program gave  the community the  opportunity to  prosper and                                                                    
grow by investing as much  as possible into the programs. He                                                                    
spoke to  the importance  of ensuring safety  in communities                                                                    
and of providing individuals with  the support they need. He                                                                    
thanked  members  for their  service  and  for offering  the                                                                    
funding options  for various nonprofits. He  highlighted his                                                                    
personal support  for public radio  and AMHS. He  stated the                                                                    
importance of  enabling communities  to have the  ability to                                                                    
grow economically  as a result  of the ability  to transport                                                                    
goods and people on AMHS between Southeast communities.                                                                         
Vice-Chair Ortiz thanked Mr. Echohawk for his testimony.                                                                        
2:49:48 PM                                                                                                                    
NOAH  WILLIAMS, SELF,  JUNEAU, spoke  in  support of  public                                                                    
radio and  AMHS. He had traveled  via the AMHS as  a student                                                                    
growing up. He found it  distressing to see the ferry system                                                                    
gutted and ferries in disrepair.  He stressed the importance                                                                    
of seeing the system restored to its full working order.                                                                        
2:51:09 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM   BRICE,  SELF,   JUNEAU,  spoke   in  support   of  the                                                                    
subcommittee  actions  for  the  University  of  Alaska.  He                                                                    
appreciated the increase and the  acceptance of the Board of                                                                    
Regents    numbers.  Following   three   years  of   extreme                                                                    
austerity  he  thought  it  was time  to  invest  in  future                                                                    
Alaskans. He highlighted the funding  for the medical branch                                                                    
at  the University  of Anchorage.  He  also appreciated  the                                                                    
support for  mariculture. He thanked  the committee  for its                                                                    
Representative LeBon  thanked the former  representative for                                                                    
his service to the state.                                                                                                       
Representative  Wool  revealed  that  when he  went  to  the                                                                    
University  of  Alaska Fairbanks,  Mr.  Brice  had been  the                                                                    
class president.                                                                                                                
2:53:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SUZANNE  VUILLET-SMITH,  SECRETARY  OF BOARD  OF  DIRECTORS,                                                                    
KHNS LYNN  CANAL BROADCASTING, HAINES  (via teleconference),                                                                    
spoke  in  support of  public  radio.  She highlighted  that                                                                    
public  radio  had  not received  state  funding  for  three                                                                    
years.  She   detailed  the  specific   station  represented                                                                    
Haines,  Skagway,  and  Klukwan.  She shared  that  she  had                                                                    
worked on  the ambulance  crew for  many years.  She pointed                                                                    
out that public radio  stations kept residents informed when                                                                    
climate  disasters hit.  She  noted  climate disasters  were                                                                    
coming   with  increasing   frequency.   She  referenced   a                                                                    
devastating landslide  that occurred a little  over one year                                                                    
back. She emphasized  that the only thing that  had held the                                                                    
community  together  had been  listening  to  the mayor  and                                                                    
emergency  operations  committee  daily on  the  radio.  She                                                                    
informed the  committee that  the radio  staff had  slept at                                                                    
the station  to ensure their  own safety and to  keep things                                                                    
going. She  stressed that  without public  radio communities                                                                    
could not communicate with each  other to learn about local,                                                                    
state, and  world events.  She noted that  the price  of oil                                                                    
was skyrocketing,  and it was  time to support  the service.                                                                    
She noted  that pandemic funds  had been well used,  but the                                                                    
funding had run out. She thanked the committee.                                                                                 
2:56:30 PM                                                                                                                    
JESSICA   WHITAKER,   ADMINISTRATIVE   OPERATIONS   MANAGER,                                                                    
BEHAVIORAL   HEALTH,   SOUTHEAST  ALASKA   REGIONAL   HEALTH                                                                    
CONSORTIUM  (SEARHC), WRANGELL  (via teleconference),  spoke                                                                    
in support  of increased  funding for the  behavioral health                                                                    
grants  program.  She  relayed  that SEARHC  was  a  current                                                                    
recipient of  the comprehensive behavioral  health treatment                                                                    
and  recovery  grant  and  depended on  the  funds  to  help                                                                    
support the  cost of  providing local  psychiatric emergency                                                                    
service  response  in  many  of  its  rural  communities  in                                                                    
Southeast. The funding helped support  the cost of providing                                                                    
services to  patients who were  not eligible or  enrolled in                                                                    
the  states   funded  Medicaid   program.  She  thanked  the                                                                    
committee for its work and time.                                                                                                
2:58:25 PM                                                                                                                    
TINA  RUSSELL,  DIRECT  SERVICE COORDINATOR,  ADVOCATES  FOR                                                                    
VICTIMS OF  VIOLENCE, VALDEZ (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
support  of services  for victims  of domestic  violence and                                                                    
sexual  assault.   She  shared  that  funding   enabled  the                                                                    
organization  to provide  emergency  shelter and  additional                                                                    
services. She thanked members for their time.                                                                                   
2:59:17 PM                                                                                                                    
TONY  JACKSON,  SOUTHEAST   ALASKA  FOR  INDEPENDENT  LIVING                                                                    
(SAIL),  SITKA (via  teleconference),  spoke  in support  of                                                                    
funding  for   SAIL.  The  organization  worked   to  enable                                                                    
disabled  individuals to  remain in  their homes.  He shared                                                                    
that over the  years SAIL had provided his  wife with access                                                                    
to wheelchairs  and a  stair rail  at home  to allow  her to                                                                    
live at home  longer. He urged members to  increase the SAIL                                                                    
budget and thanked members for listening.                                                                                       
3:01:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MANDY  COLE,  AWARE,   JUNEAU  (via  teleconference),  urged                                                                    
support of the addition of  $3.5 million in general funds to                                                                    
replace temporary federal funds  for grants supporting AWARE                                                                    
and other similar  agencies. She shared that  AWARE had been                                                                    
challenged to  provide services over the  past several years                                                                    
due to COVID. She shared  that isolation had caused problems                                                                    
for   survivors.  She   reported  individuals   had  avoided                                                                    
shelter, the hospital, and reaching  out for help during the                                                                    
start  of the  pandemic. Over  the past  year, the  need for                                                                    
services had  sharply increased.  She elaborated  that AWARE                                                                    
was overwhelmed by the need  for increased behavioral health                                                                    
services. She  shared that increased funding  for behavioral                                                                    
health  and treatment  grants and  the prevention  and early                                                                    
intervention  grants would  go a  long way  in ensuring  the                                                                    
organization  was able  to  match  treatment resources  with                                                                    
needs. She  emphasized that the  need for  services impacted                                                                    
clients,  program   staff,  and  others.  She   thanked  the                                                                    
3:03:21 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN SONIN, SELF, JUNEAU, spoke  in support of education and                                                                    
public  broadcasting. He  stated that  public radio  was his                                                                    
primary source  of information. He  spoke to  the importance                                                                    
of  education. He  spoke about  the  importance of  ensuring                                                                    
responsible gun ownership. He thought  the influx of federal                                                                    
funding  would be  beneficial for  the  state. He  supported                                                                    
funding for cultural welfare instead of private enterprise.                                                                     
3:06:50 PM                                                                                                                    
JAMES KERR,  CHIEF OF POLICE, PETERSBURG  POLICE DEPARTMENT,                                                                    
PETERSBURG  (via   teleconference),  spoke  in   support  of                                                                    
funding for community jails. He  shared that current funding                                                                    
from  the   Department  of  Corrections  was   $173,626  per                                                                    
contract year  since 2016. He  stressed the amount  was only                                                                    
43  percent of  operating  costs. He  emphasized that  since                                                                    
2016 the  Petersburg taxpayers had  been forced to  pay over                                                                    
$1  million  to  operate  the  states   community  jail.  He                                                                    
relayed  that  all bookings  into  the  community jail  were                                                                    
state  charges.   The  deficit   had  resulted   in  reduced                                                                    
staffing,  decreased wages,  and the  inability to  hire and                                                                    
retain qualified  personnel. He  shared that  the Department                                                                    
of Corrections  rural community  jail contract  had specific                                                                    
requirements  the city  had to  follow. He  explained proper                                                                    
state  funding should  be required  because community  jails                                                                    
were agents of  the state. He spoke in  support of increased                                                                    
funding  for community  jails and  funding public  radio. He                                                                    
noted the  two items  were valuable public  safety resources                                                                    
in Southeast Alaska.                                                                                                            
Co-Chair  Foster believed  funds for  public radio  had been                                                                    
added to the budget.                                                                                                            
Representative  Wool  answered  that  the  subcommittee  had                                                                    
added $1.5 million to the budget for public radio.                                                                              
3:10:18 PM                                                                                                                    
MARILYN  CASTEEL,  SAFE,  DILLINGHAM  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
shared  information  about her  work  with  women, men,  and                                                                    
children suffering  from domestic violence,  sexual assault,                                                                    
and  other types  of violence.  She emphasized  that without                                                                    
state  funding for  shelters  across  Alaska, especially  in                                                                    
rural  areas,  communities  would  be in  worse  shape.  She                                                                    
supported funding to increase  the safety and protection for                                                                    
victims of domestic violence and  sexual assault and for 24-                                                                    
hour  emergency  shelters.  She expressed  appreciation  for                                                                    
past funding. She thanked the committee for its time.                                                                           
3:12:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CINDY  SWEAT,  GENERAL  MANAGER, KSTK  PUBLIC  BROADCASTING,                                                                    
WRANGELL (via teleconference),  asked for reinstated funding                                                                    
for  public  radio.  Public radio  had  not  received  state                                                                    
funding  for three  years, which  had put  some stations  in                                                                    
danger  of shutting  down broadcast  signals. The  stations                                                                     
receipt  of federal  grants depended  on  receipt of  annual                                                                    
non-federal  funding  support.  She shared  the  station  in                                                                    
Wrangell  was required  to match  $250,000 annually  in non-                                                                    
federal  funding in  order  to qualify  for  the grant.  She                                                                    
stated that the small community  of 2,000 residents had been                                                                    
challenged  with raising  the funding  and it  had not  been                                                                    
able to  meet the  benchmark every  year after  losing state                                                                    
funding. She  spoke to the importance  of emergency services                                                                    
and keeping Alaskans informed.                                                                                                  
Vice-Chair Ortiz  asked what the state  annual state funding                                                                    
had been  prior to  its elimination  several years  back. He                                                                    
asked whether  the $1.5 million  came close to  matching the                                                                    
states previous appropriations [to public radio].                                                                               
Ms. Sweat answered that she did  not have the number for the                                                                    
entire  state  on  hand.  She  reported  that  the  Wrangell                                                                    
station had  received $130,000 at one  point. She elaborated                                                                    
that the  amount had first  been cut in half  and eventually                                                                    
reduced to zero.                                                                                                                
3:14:58 PM                                                                                                                    
ARIKA PAQUETTE,  WOMEN IN SAFE HOMES  (WISH), KETCHIKAN (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke in  support  the additional  funding                                                                    
for  the Council  on Domestic  Violence  and Sexual  Assault                                                                    
(CDVSA). She  shared that  WISH served  multiple communities                                                                    
across   Southeast   Alaska.   The   funding   allowed   the                                                                    
organization support  primary prevention programming  and to                                                                    
provide safe shelter and mental  health services to children                                                                    
and  youth  exposed  to   domestic  violence.  The  programs                                                                    
reduced the likelihood that youth  exposed to violence would                                                                    
experience violence  over their  lifetime. She  informed the                                                                    
committee that  funding for  CDVSA was  incredibly important                                                                    
in  reducing  violence  in   communities  along  with  other                                                                    
benefits. She thanked the committee.                                                                                            
3:16:47 PM                                                                                                                    
ELEANOR  HEWITT,   SELF,  KETCHIKAN   (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified in  support of the  SAIL program. She  shared that                                                                    
she is  a caregiver for  her husband  who is a  veteran. The                                                                    
program  allowed them  to say  in their  home. She  was very                                                                    
grateful for  the SAIL program.  She urged the  committee to                                                                    
include funding in the budget for the program.                                                                                  
Vice-Chair Ortiz  shared that Ms. Hewitt  was a longstanding                                                                    
community  advocate  and  participant. He  thanked  her  for                                                                    
calling in.                                                                                                                     
3:17:57 PM                                                                                                                    
JANET ELISOVSKY,  SELF, CORDOVA (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in  support of  the SAIL  program.  She shared  that she  is                                                                    
physically  disabled, and  the  program had  enabled her  to                                                                    
remain living  in her home  instead of assisted  living. She                                                                    
stated  that Cordova  was often  a forgotten  community. She                                                                    
emphasized that  the SAIL advocate  she dealt with  over the                                                                    
years was wonderful. She stressed  that her advocate did not                                                                    
get  paid enough  for her  hard  work. She  pointed out  the                                                                    
difficulty  of finding  help and  programs  in Cordova.  She                                                                    
implored  the legislature  to consider  giving  more to  the                                                                    
3:20:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHARLES BARKER, SELF, KODIAK  (via teleconference), spoke in                                                                    
support  of   the  Independent  Living   Center.  He   is  a                                                                    
wheelchair confined  adult. He  shared that the  program had                                                                    
provided  many  resources  to  help him  get  out  into  the                                                                    
community. The organization  had enabled him to  live on his                                                                    
own in an  apartment, which he had never considered  to be a                                                                    
possibility in the past. He  listed benefits the program had                                                                    
provided him.  He detailed that the  program helped disabled                                                                    
individuals  get  into  the   outdoors.  He  emphasized  how                                                                    
wonderful the  program and  its staff  were. He  thanked the                                                                    
3:22:10 PM                                                                                                                    
DEB POTTER, SELF, SKAGWAY  (via teleconference), shared that                                                                    
she was  a new  assembly member calling  on her  own behalf.                                                                    
She  testified in  support of  public radio.  She elaborated                                                                    
that public radio provided a  valuable public safety service                                                                    
in extreme  weather events. She  spoke about  the importance                                                                    
of a  fully functional  Alaska Marine Highway  System (AMHS)                                                                    
to Southeast communities. She highlighted  it was the second                                                                    
year in a  row where poor weather prevented  travel by plane                                                                    
from Skagway to  Juneau. She relayed the  community had gone                                                                    
over  a  month  without   ferry  service,  which  meant  the                                                                    
community had  to contract private ferries.  She stressed it                                                                    
was necessary  to be able  to transport people  to hospitals                                                                    
and medical services.                                                                                                           
3:24:04 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  BATY,  CHIEF  OF POLICE,  SITKA  POLICE  DEPARTMENT,                                                                    
SITKA  (via  teleconference),  spoke  in  support  of  a  $4                                                                    
million increase  to fully fund  community jails.  He shared                                                                    
that  the  services  provided   by  the  municipalities  had                                                                    
historically been based  off of a skewed   man days  formula                                                                    
instead of the true cost  of doing business. He communicated                                                                    
that  if the  state had  to  provide the  same services,  it                                                                    
would cost the state more  money to build facilities and pay                                                                    
for costs including upkeep and  personnel. He explained that                                                                    
communities had  been supplementing shortfalls  of community                                                                    
jails. For example,  Sitka had been operating  at a $200,000                                                                    
deficit since  the budget had  been cut in 2016.  He thanked                                                                    
the committee for  its work. He vocalized  support for AMHS,                                                                    
sexual assault awareness, and public radio.                                                                                     
Co-Chair  Foster asked  which committee  member had  chaired                                                                    
the   corrections   subcommittee.    He   thought   it   was                                                                    
Representative  Edgmon [who  was not  present]. He  asked if                                                                    
the subcommittee added on top  of the $4 million. He thought                                                                    
the subcommittee had added at least $4 million.                                                                                 
Vice-Chair Ortiz  answered it was  a consistent  number that                                                                    
had  been  going  from  year-to-year and  it  had  not  been                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster noted he would look into the issue further.                                                                     
3:27:56 PM                                                                                                                    
JOYANNA  GEISLER,  INDEPENDENT  LIVING  CENTER,  HOMER  (via                                                                    
teleconference),   supported  a   $1.49  million   amendment                                                                    
offered by  Representative Josephson for  independent living                                                                    
centers and  senior grant providers.  She shared  there were                                                                    
four  centers  for  independent living  across  Alaska.  She                                                                    
provided  office   locations  for  the   Independent  Living                                                                    
Center. She  detailed that the centers  provided services to                                                                    
people  and families  experiencing disabilities.  She shared                                                                    
that  the  previous  year,  the  organization  had  provided                                                                    
services  to  approximately 715  people  in  the gulf  coast                                                                    
region. The  services varied based  on the  particular needs                                                                    
of the client.  She provided several examples  of clients to                                                                    
illustrate  how different  the  various  services were.  She                                                                    
shared that  the organization had  worked with  60 different                                                                    
veterans  the  previous  year   in  collaboration  with  the                                                                    
Veterans Administration, enabling  the individuals to remain                                                                    
at home and out of nursing  homes. She asked for support for                                                                    
the increment. She thanked the committee for its time.                                                                          
3:31:08 PM                                                                                                                    
ELLEN    FRANKENSTEIN,    ARTCHANGE   INC.,    SITKA    (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke in  support of  public broadcasting.                                                                    
She  shared detail  about her  work in  public broadcasting.                                                                    
She highlighted  that Alaskans relied  on public radio  in a                                                                    
unique   way.   She   asked   for   resources   to   support                                                                    
communications  and   emergency  infrastructure   needs  for                                                                    
public radio. She  reported that the station  worked hard to                                                                    
support  public safety  and  the Alaskan  way  of life.  She                                                                    
pointed  out  that  oil  prices   were  up,  and  money  was                                                                    
available.  She  implored  the committee  to  support  rural                                                                    
Alaskans   by   reinstating   state   support   for   public                                                                    
broadcasting.  She  supported  funding  for  sexual  assault                                                                    
services and AMHS. She thanked the committee.                                                                                   
3:33:01 PM                                                                                                                    
SUZI TOWNSLEY,  PROGRAM DIRECTOR  AND LEAD  ADVOCATE, SEWARD                                                                    
SAFE HARBOR,  SEWARD (via teleconference), spoke  in support                                                                    
of  funding   for  sexual  assault  and   domestic  violence                                                                    
programs. She listed communities  served by the organization                                                                    
in  the Seward  region. She  highlighted that  the operating                                                                    
budget  included  additional  funding  to  support  multiple                                                                    
communities  statewide  with  domestic violence  and  sexual                                                                    
assault   work.  She   shared   that  program   participants                                                                    
struggled with finding  affordable housing. The organization                                                                    
looked forward  to continuing to work  in collaboration with                                                                    
the state and sister  organizations to continue removing the                                                                    
many  barriers facing  survivors  of  domestic violence  and                                                                    
sexual   assault.  She   thanked  the   committee  for   its                                                                    
recognition  of the  importance  of stable  funding for  the                                                                    
organization and related programs.                                                                                              
3:34:42 PM                                                                                                                    
PENNY LAMPLE, KODIAK WOMEN'S  RESOURCE CRISIS CENTER, KODIAK                                                                    
(via   teleconference),  supported   funding  for   domestic                                                                    
violence and  sexual assault. She  detailed that  the center                                                                    
had  25  beds  to  shelter women  and  children  and  people                                                                    
directly impacted  by domestic violence and  sexual assault.                                                                    
The  center  provided  outreach  and  prevention  throughout                                                                    
Kodiak  and its  six villages.  She provided  information on                                                                    
services provided. She believed  the services were extremely                                                                    
important for  the community and its  residents. She thanked                                                                    
the committee for working to keep the center funded.                                                                            
Co-Chair   Foster  there   were   currently  no   additional                                                                    
testifiers. He shared that the  committee would come back at                                                                    
3:55 p.m.                                                                                                                       
3:37:40 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
3:58:44 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster  noted there  were no  additional testifiers                                                                    
in the room or online.                                                                                                          
HB  281  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
HB  282  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster reviewed the agenda for the following day.                                                                      
4:00:37 PM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 281 HF Public Testimony 03.03.22_redacted.pdf HFIN 3/3/2022 1:30:00 PM
HB 281