Legislature(1995 - 1996)

01/23/1996 03:00 PM House HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
          HOUSE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES                          
                       STANDING COMMITTEE                                      
                        January 23, 1996                                       
                           3:00 p.m.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Representative Cynthia Toohey, Co-Chair                                       
 Representative Con Bunde, Co-Chair                                            
 Representative Gary Davis                                                     
 Representative Norman Rokeberg                                                
 Representative Caren Robinson                                                 
 Representative Tom Brice                                                      
 Representative Al Vezey                                                       
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
 HOUSE BILL NO. 30                                                             
 "An Act relating to a dress code for public schools."                         
      - HEARD AND HELD                                                         
 * HOUSE BILL NO. 339                                                          
 "An Act relating to the termination of parental rights of                     
 incarcerated parents."                                                        
      - HEARD AND HELD                                                         
 HOUSE BILL NO. 60                                                             
 "An Act relating to impairment rating guides used in evaluation of            
 certain workers' compensation claims."                                        
      - HEARD AND HELD                                                         
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 BILL:  HB  30                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: SCHOOL DRESS CODES                                               
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) B.DAVIS,Rokeberg                                
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG               ACTION                                      
 01/06/95        28    (H)   PREFILE RELEASED                                  
 01/16/95        28    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 01/16/95        28    (H)   STA, HES                                          
 02/09/95              (H)   STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102                       
 02/09/95              (H)   MINUTE(STA)                                       
 02/14/95              (H)   STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 519                       
 02/14/95              (H)   MINUTE(STA)                                       
 02/21/95              (H)   STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102                       
 02/21/95              (H)   MINUTE(STA)                                       
 02/23/95       463    (H)   STA RPT 1DP 1DNP 3NR                              
 02/23/95       463    (H)   DP: ROBINSON                                      
 02/23/95       463    (H)   DNP: OGAN                                         
 02/23/95       463    (H)   NR: JAMES, PORTER, WILLIS                         
 02/23/95       463    (H)   ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DOE)                            
 02/23/95       463    (H)   REFERRED TO HES                                   
 02/23/95              (H)   STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102                       
 02/23/95              (H)   MINUTE(STA)                                       
 03/01/95       550    (H)   COSPONSOR(S): ROKEBERG                            
 01/23/96              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                       
 BILL:  HB 339                                                                
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) ROKEBERG,Mulder                                 
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG               ACTION                                      
 05/08/95      1976    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 05/08/95      1976    (H)   HES, STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY                     
 01/23/96              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                       
 BILL:  HB  60                                                                
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) B.DAVIS                                         
 JRN-PAGE     JRN-PG               ACTION                                      
 01/06/95        36    (H)   PREFILE RELEASED                                  
 01/16/95        36    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 01/16/95        36    (H)   L&C, HES, FIN                                     
 03/22/95              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                        
 03/22/95              (H)   MINUTE(L&C)                                       
 03/24/95       888    (H)   L&C RPT  4DP 3NR                                  
 03/24/95       888    (H)   DP: ROKEBERG,ELTON,KUBINA,PORTER                  
 03/24/95       889    (H)   NR: KOTT, MASEK, SANDERS                          
 03/24/95       889    (H)   2 ZERO FISCAL NOTES (LABOR, ADM)                  
 03/24/95       889    (H)   REFERRED TO HES                                   
 01/23/96              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                       
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 JONATHAN SPERBER, Legislative Aide                                            
   to Representative Bettye Davis                                              
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 Capitol Building, Room 430                                                    
 Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                    
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3875                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Gave sponsor statement for HB 30 and HB 60               
 REPRESENTATIVE BETTYE DAVIS                                                   
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 Capitol Building, Room 430                                                    
 Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                    
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3875                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of HB 30                                         
 NANCY BUELL, Director                                                         
 Teacher and Learning Support                                                  
 Department of Education                                                       
 801 West 10th Street, Suite 200                                               
 Juneau, Alaska  99801-1894                                                    
 Telephone:  (907) 465-8689                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 30                                       
 NICLOLE LUCK, Student                                                         
 Lathrop High School                                                           
 P.O. Box 72766                                                                
 Fairbanks, Alaska  99707                                                      
 Telephone:  (907) 452-1171                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 30                            
 PEGGY THOMAS                                                                  
 9208 Long Run Drive                                                           
 Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3608                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 339                           
 JAN RUTHERDALE, Assistant Attorney General                                    
 Human Services Section                                                        
 Department of Law                                                             
 P.O. Box 110300                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300                                                     
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3600                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 339                                      
 TOBY STEINBERGER, Assistant Attorney General                                  
 Governmental Affairs Section                                                  
 Department of Law                                                             
 1031 West 4th Avenue, Suite 200                                               
 Anchorage, Alaska  99501-1994                                                 
 Telephone:  (907) 269-5100                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 60                              
 GEOFF BULLOCK, Lobbyist                                                       
 Alaska State Medical Association                                              
 201 North Franklin Street, No. 2                                              
 Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 586-5860                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 60                            
 GARREY PESKA, Lobbyist                                                        
 Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home Association                              
 P.O. Box 240185                                                               
 Douglas, Alaska  99824                                                        
 Telephone:  (907) 364-2244                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 60                            
 PAUL GROSSI, Director                                                         
 Division of Workers' Compensation                                             
 Department of Labor                                                           
 P.O. Box 25512                                                                
 Juneau, Alaska  99802-5512                                                    
 Telephone:  (907) 465-2790                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 60                            
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
 TAPE 96-3, SIDE A                                                             
 Number 001                                                                    
 The House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee            
 was called to order by Co-Chair Toohey.  Members present at the               
 call to order were Representatives Toohey, Bunde, and Rokeberg.  A            
 quorum was not present.  Co-Chair Toohey announced the calendar for           
 today's meeting was HB 339, Terminate Parental Rights of Prisoners;           
 HB 30, Dress Code for Public Schools; and HB 60, Impairment Rating            
 Guides For Workers' Compensation.  Co-Chair Toohey said the meeting           
 was being teleconferenced.                                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY noted that Representatives Brice and Gary Davis               
 joined the meeting at 3:02 p.m.  A quorum was present to conduct              
 HB 30 - SCHOOL DRESS CODES                                                   
 Number 140                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked Jonathan Sperber to come forward to testify             
 and noted that Representative Bettye Davis, Sponsor of HB 30, was             
 on teleconference.                                                            
 Number 189                                                                    
 JONATHAN SPERBER, Legislative Aide to Representative Betty Davis,             
 read brief introductory statements from Representative Davis'                 
 sponsor statement and other materials regarding House Bill 30,                
 which would provide for a dress code for public school students.              
 He said it had been noted that the adoption of a optional school-             
 wide uniform policy is a reasonable and economical way to provide             
 protection for students without taking teachers away from their               
 normal duties.  This legislation would also put parents in position           
 to choose the type of clothing they think is most suitable for                
 their child and their child's school environment.  This legislation           
 grows out from the belief that we live in an increasingly more                
 violent society and any steps that a school district can take to              
 protect its students deserves careful consideration by the                    
 legislature.  He emphasized the dress code would be completely                
 optional under this legislation; no student would be forced to                
 comply.  The dress code policy would not be implemented without               
 less than a six month notice to allow students sufficient time to             
 purchase uniforms.                                                            
 MR. SPERBER noted that Representative Davis had stated in                     
 constituent correspondence that as a legislator, she has had the              
 opportunity to travel widely throughout the United States.  She was           
 appalled at the violence that is spreading out from blighted urban            
 centers, and she believes that any steps a school district can take           
 to protect its students should be seriously considered.  Mr.                  
 Sperber referred to an article from an issue of last month's                  
 Sacramento newspaper in which U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno,              
 spoke very positively of the Long Beach School District having                
 recently adopted a uniform policy.  The article further stated                
 shortly after the policy was adopted, fighting dropped by more than           
 half from the previous year, suspensions went down 32 percent,                
 while crime and fighting generally were down 36 percent.  Attorney            
 General Reno said she was convinced that uniforms can make a big              
 difference.  He next referred to a letter from the Office of the              
 Superintendent of the Long Beach School District which stated that            
 in evaluating these programs, "the district found that use of                 
 school uniforms enhanced school safety, improved the learning                 
 environment, reduced ethnic and racial tensions, bridged                      
 socioeconomic differences between children, promoted good behavior,           
 improved children's self-respect and self-esteem, and produced cost           
 savings for participating families.  Schools with greater                     
 compliance levels tended to enjoy commensurately better results."             
 The Long Beach School District recommended, as Representative Davis           
 has with this legislation, that each school develop incentives and            
 positive enforcement measures to encourage full compliance with               
 uniform policy, should it be adopted by a school district.  In                
 conclusion, Mr. Sperber said Lawrence Wiget, Governmental Liaison             
 for the Anchorage School District, was scheduled to testify but had           
 anticipated that HB 30 would be the second bill heard by the                  
 committee.  If at the conclusion of public testimony for HB 30, Mr.           
 Wiget had not yet arrived, Mr. Sperber requested that he be allowed           
 to read into the record a paragraph from Mr. Wiget's position                 
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY noted that Representative Robinson arrived at 3:04            
 Number 478                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said he was not in any disagreement with                       
 Representative Davis' attempt.  He thought how people dressed had             
 a direct impact on their behavior.  He referred to the voluntary              
 compliance provision and said he thought the committee should hear            
 from school administrators and school children and encouraged the             
 sponsor to get some feedback from the people affected by this bill.           
 Representative Bunde said when he thinks of uniforms, he envisions            
 the entire school dressing the same, for the purpose of removing              
 gang tagging and violence, ego involvement in fashions, etc.  He              
 asked if his understanding was correct that under this legislation            
 some children may be wearing uniforms and some children may not.              
 Number 572                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BETTYE DAVIS, Sponsor, testified via teleconference.           
 She stated this was not the first hearing on this legislation and             
 there had been previous testimony from school children.  She also             
 noted that in the past students coming to Juneau from the Close-Up            
 program had reviewed this legislation.  She added this is the                 
 second committee of referral, not the first.                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS emphasized the word voluntary and said that           
 school districts are not mandated.  She pointed out we are not                
 passing legislation that would say that every school district has             
 to adopt a dress code.  It would be left up to the district to                
 decide if they wanted to adopt it as a blanket school district                
 policy or if they wanted to allow each school to make that                    
 decision.  Representative B. Davis noted we are moving now toward             
 site-based management where the decision would be left up to the              
 principal, students and parents to decide what the code of dress              
 would be for that particular school.  So if the school decided to             
 adopt it, then every student that went to that school would have              
 certain colors they would wear.  Based on her experience from                 
 places she has visited, it also helps develop a great sense of                
 pride in the school.  Representative Davis' sister works at a                 
 school that adopted this policy last year, and it is highly praised           
 by both the teachers and parents.  It has cut down on the amount of           
 money parents have to spend on clothes, and it reduced the                    
 competition for designer clothes, etc.  The students wear uniforms            
 three days a week which could be pants, skirts, dresses, but they             
 have only certain colors that can to be worn; the next day the                
 students wear their school colors; and the following day, which was           
 always Friday, they are allowed to dress down in whatever they                
 choose.  She said that is just an example of how one district has             
 implemented the dress code.                                                   
 Number 730                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS said currently some school districts                
 don't require students to attend the school in their attendance               
 area.  He asked if there were any studies available that indicated            
 if a school district gained or lost students when a dress code was            
 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS responded she has never seen any                      
 information regarding that, but her feeling is that the effect                
 would not be that great for the school district or the school,                
 Number 810                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said he was familiar with the San Diego school                 
 system as he had talked with them when he had a bill regarding                
 school violence.  He noted San Diego solved their problem by                  
 getting rid of lockers and backpacks.  He questioned whether Alaska           
 was at the point where dress codes needed to be addressed or were             
 we trying to get ahead of the problem and solve it before it got              
 here.  He asked Representative Bettye Davis if she had a                      
 recommendation as far as it being K-12 or K-6, with more options              
 available at the high school level.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS said she thought it might be more                     
 appropriate for K-6; however, there was nothing in this legislation           
 that would prohibit a high school from adopting a dress code if               
 they chose to do so.  In reference to Co-Chair Bunde's comment                
 regarding whether or not Alaska was getting ahead of the violence             
 and related activities going on in their school districts, she                
 commented that several years ago they were trying to determine if             
 gangs existed in the Anchorage area.  At that time everyone thought           
 gangs were not present in Alaska, but as everyone is aware there              
 are lots of gangs in the city now.  She said everything that is               
 done is for the protection of the children and she didn't think it            
 was too early to start.  She commented there is already at least              
 one site-based school in the Anchorage School District and some of            
 the school districts are moving in that direction where there will            
 be a lot more decisions made not only by the school                           
 superintendents, but also the principals, parents and students of             
 the individual schools.                                                       
 Number 938                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY commented that as a child she attended school in              
 uniforms all the time, and didn't find them offensive at all,                 
 because there was no other choice.   She asked Representative B.              
 Davis if there was anything in the law or regulations that                    
 prohibits this from being done now.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS responded there probably isn't anything               
 that would keep a school from doing so except the school board,               
 because they do have some autonomy and they can set a lot of things           
 up.  She felt this was a good way to show they, as state                      
 representatives, are interested in the schools and do care about              
 what kind of education our children get.                                      
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted that Mr. Wiget had not yet arrived and asked             
 Mr. Sperber if he wished to read the statement from Mr. Wiget.                
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said she had just spoken with Mr. Wiget and the               
 Anchorage School District has absolutely no problem with this                 
 Number 1031                                                                   
 NANCY BUELL, Director, Teacher and Learning Support, Department of            
 Education, said she wanted to address the aspect of prohibiting               
 certain articles of clothing, and added the Department of Education           
 is generally supportive of the legislation.  Ms. Buell commented              
 the Executive Director of the Secondary Principals' Association had           
 recently indicated to her that he had received the department-                
 mandated student rights and responsibilities documents and                    
 according to his observation it does include dress code.  It                  
 generally speaks to prohibited items of dress.  Anything to                   
 strengthen that would be welcomed and would be helping promote the            
 safety of children.  She said many of the problems do break out               
 over slogans on T-shirts, caps, jackets, and other things worn by             
 students that are associated with social persuasions, points of               
 view or gangs.                                                                
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY verified there is nothing in current law that says            
 we can't do this.                                                             
 MS. BUELL responded there is nothing in law that states we can't do           
 this.  She added there probably isn't anything in the law that                
 specifically says we can mandate uniforms, but that would be a                
 matter of board policy.  She agreed with previous statements that             
 there is plenty of research which indicated that it does tend to              
 promote a more harmonious climate of less violence.                           
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Buell to address the First Amendment                 
 problems and/or religious freedom problems as they related to the             
 prohibited items.  He noted that while it isn't a large issue in              
 Alaska, there are sects that choose to have their children dressed            
 in a certain way.                                                             
 MS. BUELL said there had been some research of legal issues on this           
 issue.  They have not arisen over dress primarily, but over hair              
 length, sideburns and beards, which along with arm bands, tend to             
 be associated with freedom of speech.  The courts have given a lot            
 of support to administrators and teachers, especially in the last             
 decade, for trying to do whatever they can to make the atmosphere             
 more safe.  Even limiting dress has generally been supported.  She            
 was not aware of any case, where it hadn't been supported.                    
 Religious dress is highly supported among young people, although              
 not necessarily so for teachers.  Dress codes for teachers is a               
 whole different issue.                                                        
 Number 1213                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON asked if there was anything that                
 needed to be put into this legislation to allow for site specific,            
 where a school could make the determination.  Or, would it have to            
 be from the school board who would set a policy and then each                 
 school would determine whether or not they wanted to do it.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS said when schools go into what is referred            
 to site-based management, the management of the school (indisc.)              
 down to the principal, the council, the board and the decisions are           
 made at that level, so the overall school board would not be making           
 that mandate; it would be left up to the schools.   She said there            
 wouldn't have to be anything in the bill to specify that a site-              
 based management school could do it on their own, because they                
 already have the privilege to do so.                                          
 Number 1270                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE said his concerns regarding the bill                 
 revolved around First Amendment issues, like Representative Bunde             
 brought up.  He noted, however, that the bill does allow the                  
 parents to exclude their children from the dress code.  It also               
 ensures that school districts implement some type of policy whereby           
 a parent could, if for religious reasons, have their children                 
 dressed how they wanted.                                                      
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said she didn't see any need for this bill.  This             
 is already being done at the school district level.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS agreed, but said the reason she introduced            
 the legislation was because of her concern and involvement.  She              
 felt the legislature should be doing everything they could to show            
 their support for the issue and there may be some schools who                 
 haven't done it even though they have the authority.  This could be           
 a motivating factor for some of them to actually do it.  She does             
 not feel this is wasted legislation.                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS said Representative Bettye Davis had just             
 indicated that a single site school would have the authority to               
 impose a dress code, yet the first words of the legislation state             
 "a governing body may adopt"....                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS said it would be a governing body.  When              
 the school board passes business down to site-based, then a                   
 governing body exists.  The governing body is made up of the                  
 principal and the council they choose, (indisc.) sit on the council           
 would be equivalent to a school board and they decide how their               
 money will be spent, etc.                                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said he agreed with Representative B. Davis.             
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said she would like to finish the teleconference              
 testimony and then the committee could wrap up their discussion on            
 the bill.  She asked Niclole Luck to testify.                                 
 Number 1444                                                                   
 NICLOLE LUCK, Student, testified in support of HB 30.  She said               
 while Alaska may not be as problematic as Long Beach or some of the           
 other larger cities, she agreed a dress code is something that                
 should be advocated if it helps avoid or defray the problems and              
 could help to keep students safer.                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS asked Ms. Luck if she had seen any                    
 indication in her school district that a dress code had been                  
 discussed in the last couple of years.                                        
 MS. LUCK responded there are certain things.  For example,                    
 supposedly students can't wear bandannas, but it is not enforced at           
 all.  At least she has never seen any enforcement of it.                      
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked Ms. Luck what high school she attended             
 and what brought her down to testify on this legislation.                     
 MS. LUCK replied Lathrop High and they are tracking bills in their            
 government class.                                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE encouraged Ms. Luck to contact his office if             
 there was any information she needed.                                         
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said he shared Co-Chair Toohey's concern that this             
 bill was not necessary, other than to perhaps provide an armor for            
 the school boards in that he felt the school boards  would take a             
 lot of heat if they proposed the legislation.  Personally, he would           
 like to hear from more students and parents in his district before            
 he moved forward on the legislation.                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said he appreciated the bill and thought it              
 did two things.  He felt it created the public debate on the issue            
 at the state level to increase the awareness within the public                
 about the pros and cons of a dress code.  Also, he thought it                 
 clarified the statutes as to whether or not it is allowed.  The               
 statutes are not absolutely clear one way or another as to which              
 way a school district can go.  By putting the law on the books, he            
 thought some of the murky waters on the issue would be clarified.             
 While school districts may be able to implement a dress code, it is           
 not clear how they would fare in court if they were challenged on             
 the legality of whether or not school districts had the power.  He            
 pointed out this legislation would give the school districts that             
 power and would start the public debate.                                      
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY thanked Representative Davis for her comments and             
 said it was not her intention to move the bill out of committee               
 HB 339 - TERMINATE PARENTAL RIGHTS OF PRISONERS                              
 Number 1693                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked Representative Rokeberg to give his sponsor             
 statement on HB 339.                                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said because of the technical nature of               
 this bill, he would read his sponsor statement to clarify the issue           
 and make sure committee members had read the statement.  He stated            
 this particular bill is an act relating to the termination of                 
 parental rights of incarcerated parents.  HB 339 gives the courts             
 the authority to consider incarceration in child custody cases                
 dealing with termination of parental rights.  Currently, the courts           
 do not have the statutory authority to do this.  HB 339 will allow            
 the courts to look at a parent's imprisonment, whether the length             
 of the prison term will include a significant portion of the                  
 child's minority, and to consider whether or not the parent has               
 failed to make adequate provisions for the care of the child during           
 the prison term.  Now if a parent is in prison for 10 or 15 years             
 and parental rights have not been terminated, the child can linger            
 in a foster home for years without any sense of permanency and                
 belonging.  This legislation will let the courts look at the effect           
 on the relationship when a parent is in prison and ultimately, give           
 them a tool to make custody decisions for children.                           
 Number 1766                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG continued that in order to terminate                  
 parental rights, the courts have the burden of proof of showing               
 that the youth is a Child in Need of Aid (CINA) as a result of                
 parental conduct, and that conduct is likely to continue to exist.            
 Alaska Statute 47.10.010 says that the court may order the state to           
 assume custody of a minor who is found to be a child in need of aid           
 as a result of the child having no parent, guardian, custodian, or            
 relative willing to provide care, including physical abandonment.             
 The courts said in the A.M. v. State of Alaska case that "the               
 destruction must be brought about by the acts of the parent, and in           
 order to constitute abandonment, the acts of the parent must be               
 willful."  Representative Rokeberg pointed out that being sent to             
 prison does not, by itself, qualify as willful abandonment, which             
 is a key point.                                                               
 Number 1804                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated the courts have explicitly asked the           
 legislature to amend the statutes to cover situations where parents           
 are in prison.  The first time was in 1991 in Nada A. v. State.             
 Last year, Alaska State Supreme Court Justice Compton again                   
 reiterated his request for legislative relief in A.M. v. State of            
 Alaska.  Representative Rokeberg urged committee members to look at          
 this legislation and give it consideration.                                   
 Number 1820                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referred to the last sentence on page 29 of           
 the first excerpt from court opinions contained in committee member           
 packets which states, "In Nada A., I urged the Alaska Legislature           
 to define more clearly the effect of incarceration on parental                
 rights.  I do so again."  He then directed committee members to the           
 highlighted areas on page 442 of the Pacific Reporter, 2d Series,             
 where Justice Compton is quoted as saying, "I urge the legislature            
 to amend AS 47.10.080(c)(3) so that parental rights may be                    
 terminated when a parent destroys the parent-child relationship by            
 willfully committing a crime and failing to make adequate                     
 provisions for the care of the child during a period of                       
 incarceration."  He pointed out the two letters of support                    
 contained in the bill packet.                                                 
 Number 1928                                                                   
 PEGGY THOMAS testified she had been a foster parent for 12 years              
 and presently has the children referred to in A.M. v. State of              
 Alaska in her custody.  They have been in her custody for five              
 years.  She said that Mark and Samantha first came to her attention           
 in July 1990 when their father needed to serve two week-ends in               
 jail and he requested the state of Alaska to take custody of them             
 while he was serving his time because he had no relatives to care             
 for them and their mother was unable to do so.  They first became             
 her foster children in 1990 for the two week-ends.  In September              
 1990, the state assumed care of them again when their father was              
 arrested for sexual abuse of a minor and theft in the second                  
 degree.  It was at this time that Mark and Samantha came into her             
 care full time.  The father was subsequently sentenced to ten years           
 of incarceration with one year suspended, for a total of nine years           
 to serve.  She explained that means five years in jail and he will            
 be out of jail on May 14.  She said that Mark and Samantha came to            
 live with her in February 1991 when Samantha was 18-months old and            
 Mark had just turned 4 years old.  Mark began calling her mom about           
 that time because he obviously needed someone in his life to fill             
 that role.  She commented the children often have phone contact               
 with their birth mother, who currently lives out of state.  There             
 is a court order by their father for the children to contact him              
 weekly.  She explained that is done because he is serving his time            
 in Palmer, so every Saturday morning the children have telephone              
 contact with their father.                                                    
 MS. THOMAS pointed out that Mark and Samantha have grown up in her            
 home and she is the only mother that Samantha knows.  She does,               
 however, know she has another mother and she knows her father.  The           
 mother has relinquished her parental rights and has no problem with           
 Ms. Thomas adopting the children.  On the other hand, the father              
 wants his children back when he gets out of jail.  The father had             
 entered into the sex offender treatment program at Hiland Mountain,           
 but dropped out because it was too difficult for him.  So he is an            
 untreated sex offender.  Ms. Thomas said she wished this                      
 legislation was in effect at this time so the judge could make a              
 decision that the father is incarcerated, his behavior has not                
 changed and most likely will not change.  He has had a history                
 since he was a juvenile and it seems likely that it will continue.            
 The children have become part of her family.  Mark feels a loyalty            
 to his father and really doesn't know where he fits in to the                 
 pattern.  It affects him the most because he is the oldest and                
 remembers being with his mom and dad.  Samantha, on the other hand,           
 is more stable because she has grown up in the Thomas home for five           
 years, which is the majority of her life.                                     
 MS. THOMAS informed the committee they still do not have a decision           
 from Judge Carpeneti as to the termination of the father's parental           
 rights.  She said at this time she doesn't know if the children               
 will be living with her nor do the children know if they will be              
 sent back to live with their father.  She felt the Division of                
 Family & Youth Services would not allow that to happen, but they              
 don't know at this time.  She emphasized the children want                    
 permanency and have both started using Thomas as their last name on           
 their own.                                                                    
 Number 2117                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said that because of the sexual abuse, the            
 Division of Family & Youth Services would intervene, so even when             
 the father gets out of jail, the children will still be in limbo.             
 MS. THOMAS agreed that it will continue on for awhile, because they           
 are not going to give the children back right away.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG thanked Ms. Thomas for her testimony and              
 acknowledged her difficult situation.                                         
 Number 2150                                                                   
 JAN RUTHERDALE, Assistant Attorney General, Human Services Section,           
 Department of Law, testified that her duties were to represent                
 social workers, Child in Need of Aid cases, and sometimes                     
 termination cases.  She was the attorney that represented the A.M.          
 v. State of Alaska case, which went to the Supreme Court in 1995.           
 She said this is an excellent example, and hopefully the worst                
 example, of how complicated a case can get when you are working               
 with this legal fiction that because the person is in jail, and               
 since that's an involuntary act, we have to sort of pretend they              
 are not in jail and look at conduct other than the conduct leading            
 up to what got them into jail or the conduct they had in caring for           
 their children before they got to jail.  She said the court                   
 constantly focuses on what a person's parental conduct is, which is           
 a good thing to focus on because you should always look at how a              
 person's conduct can affect their ability to raise their child.               
 She said it seemed to her in this case, and she argued this at the            
 Supreme Court level, that the conduct in committing the act itself            
 that lead to the incarceration, which obviously was voluntarily,              
 was in itself a conscious disregard of a parental obligation.  If             
 there is a likelihood of a person committing a very serious crime,            
 for example, sexual abuse of a minor, and gets caught it will                 
 result in incarceration for a lengthy period of time.  That means             
 an absent father or mother in that child's life.  She stated in               
 this case they were not able to argue that this man had five years            
 or more to spend in jail, which was a very significant portion and            
 a very important part of these young children's lives.                        
 MS. RUTHERDALE pointed out this case has become very complicated.             
 She said the trial was in the fall 1992, the court didn't rule on             
 it until August 1993.  It was argued before the Supreme Court in              
 March 1994, and even though the rules say that it is expedited in             
 children's cases, a decision was not issued until February 1995               
 which was almost a year later.  It was remanded - they didn't lose.           
 The Supreme Court said the court needed to re-look at it.  The                
 remand hearing was in May 1995, and the court has still not ruled.            
 She commented there is a hearing on Friday, January 26, to deal               
 with a very minor issue.  Once that issue is dealt with, the case             
 can go various ways from there.  She said there is no question that           
 whatever way the court rules, it will be appealed again.  If the              
 state loses, they will appeal; if the father loses, he will appeal.           
 No one has any idea how long it will take after that and in the               
 meantime, these children are getting older and need some permanency           
 in their life.                                                                
 Number 2293                                                                   
 MS. RUTHERDALE said this legislation is a very important step                 
 toward freeing children for adoption.  She expressed concern with             
 two different areas of the bill.  She referred to subsection 1,               
 line 9, "(1) parent is incarcerated as the result of a voluntary              
 act committed by the parent;" and reiterated that a person can                
 never be incarcerated for a crime without it being a voluntary act.           
 A person could be in jail on a 24-hour intoxication hold, but that            
 would not result in someone seeking to terminate parental rights on           
 that basis.  She commented she knew this was put in the bill                  
 because the court says going to jail is an involuntary act, and we            
 have to look at voluntary conduct.  She said the concern is that              
 perhaps it would muddy the issue.                                             
 TAPE 96-3, SIDE B                                                             
 Number 004                                                                    
 MS. RUTHERDALE added that since all people in jail, having been               
 convicted of a criminal act, by nature it has to be a voluntary               
 act, it may not make a difference one way or another.  She referred           
 to subsection (2), "period of incarceration imposed includes a                
 significant portion of the child's minority;" and said the thought            
 behind that is for example, if the father of a 15-year-old goes to            
 jail for two years, it is not that big of a deal because the child            
 knows who his/her father is, the attachments have been formed and             
 it would probably do more harm to have the parental rights                    
 terminated than for the child to wait those two years out in state            
 custody, if need be.  On the other hand, in Samantha's case where             
 she was 18-months-old when she first went into state custody, five            
 years is a lifetime for a child.  It is so important for the                  
 children to have that permanency.  The basic thought is that it is            
 sort of a sliding scale: as they are younger, a less period of time           
 is more significant; as they are older, a greater period of time              
 could be tolerated.  Last week someone in Ms. Rutherdale's office             
 who deals with legislation, pointed out it is possible that a court           
 could read that a different way to say that if a child is two-                
 years-old and he/she has 16 years before reaching majority, a for             
 year period of incarceration is a small part of that 16 years.  She           
 pointed out it could almost be read that the older the child is,              
 the more significant it becomes because it is a greater proportion            
 of the amount of time left in the child's minority.                           
 Number 085                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if Ms. Rutherdale thought that any judge in             
 his right mind would return a child to a single parent who doesn't            
 have a job, and is a convicted, untreated sex offender.                       
 MS. RUTHERDALE said she didn't think any judge would do that, but             
 it doesn't solve the whole problem of foster care.                            
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY commented that the bill would be going to the                 
 Judiciary Committee next and suggested that Ms. Rutherdale explore            
 the various possibilities with that committee.                                
 MS. RUTHERDALE said she was certainly willing to work with the                
 committee and she thought a lot of it was policy call.                        
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked how many cases in Alaska would fall under the            
 purview of this statute.                                                      
 MS. RUTHERDALE responded in terms of termination of parental                  
 rights, it is a very drastic measure and isn't done that                      
 frequently.  She noted that while she did not have statistics                 
 available for Anchorage, she thought with the larger population in            
 Anchorage it was probably much more common there.  Her colleagues             
 in Anchorage have indicated they would like to have the bill                  
 changed because they have run into the problem.  She added that it            
 could be perhaps five to ten cases in the last ten years, somewhere           
 in that range.                                                                
 Number 171                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he agreed with Ms. Rutherdale's                     
 colleagues regarding the language in subsection (2) and thought Ms.           
 Rutherdale's testimony conflicted with the way he read it.                    
 MS. RUTHERDALE commented that is the problem.                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he would read it that a child who was 15            
 years of age and only had three more years to majority, two years             
 would be a significant portion of that child's minority.  He asked            
 what kind of incarceration would not be as a result of a voluntary            
 MS. RUTHERDALE said that is just the point.  She added a person can           
 be jailed if found drunk on the street and there's no room at the             
 alcohol facility, or an unruly person who needs to be incarcerated            
 to be protected from others.  In those situations, it would be 24             
 hours of incarceration at the most.  In response to Representative            
 Vezey's question, she said there really isn't any.                            
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said subparagraph (3) seemed to conflict with            
 some of the testimony that was given.                                         
 MS. RUTHERDALE said the law states that if there is a relative who            
 is willing and able to care for the child, then the child is not a            
 child in need of aid.  She said she could envision a situation                
 where the child was placed with the mother, and the parental rights           
 in that situation obviously could not be terminated. Or there could           
 be a situation where the mother is out of the picture, and the                
 child is placed with the grandmother.  That would be okay under the           
 current law.  The problem of foster care drift is not present if              
 the child is with a private arrangement.  The state is not involved           
 and foster care is not involved.  On the other hand, with foster              
 care, there will always be foster care parents who can't deal with            
 a situation, and then the child has to be transferred.                        
 Number 269                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said that doesn't address the problem she                
 mentioned earlier of the sex offender who had not undergone sex               
 offender treatment.  He thought subparagraph (3) would be a                   
 loophole around that.                                                         
 MS. RUTHERDALE responded that was true, it would be.  She added but           
 if the parent went to reclaim that child from the grandmother, the            
 state could step in at that point and place the child back with the           
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked what kind of conduct was referred to on            
 line 6.  He assumed it was an act relating to the incarceration.              
 MS. RUTHERDALE explained there is another section already in                  
 existence; that being (c)(3) which states that you have to find               
 that a child is a child in need of aid as a result of parental                
 conduct, and the courts are saying for purposes of parental                   
 conduct, they can meet that finding if they find these things.  It            
 can be looked at one way as sort of an exception to that general              
 rule that you have to find parental conduct.  The legislature is              
 saying the court can find parental conduct if these three                     
 provisions are satisfied.  She said, "Another way to look at it I             
 suppose is that parental conduct is the act, the voluntary act in             
 subparagraph (1), the voluntary act that results in incarceration             
 is the conduct."  That is what the Supreme Court has said.  She               
 said they are not going to read that into the statute.  If that is            
 what is meant, it will have to be spelled out.                                
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the proposed bill says that the                 
 parent's criminal conduct is likely to continue if parental rights            
 are not terminated.  He commented that didn't make any sense to               
 MS. RUTHERDALE agreed and said she thought it was to prove that the           
 conduct that got the person into jail in the first place is likely            
 to continue.  You would have to show the person is not                        
 rehabilitated.  For example, if a sex offender in jail is not going           
 through sex offender treatment, the prospects of rehabilitation are           
 really poor, so his conduct is likely to continue.                            
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE referred to subparagraph (3) "parent has                 
 failed to make adequate provisions for care of the child during the           
 period of incarceration" and noted that Ms. Rutherdale had said               
 adequate provisions for child care is a family member.  He asked if           
 that implicitly says foster care is inadequate.                               
 MS. RUTHERDALE said no, but the foster care implies state action              
 whereas subparagraph (3) implies private action.                              
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked how.                                               
 MS. RUTHERDALE replied because the parent on their own is making              
 adequate provisions.  She said she may be reading something in to             
 it, but to call the Division of Family & Youth Services and ask               
 them to get your child is not an adequate provision.  She thought             
 it should be clarified more that the parent has failed to make                
 adequate provisions, which would include guardianship with a person           
 who is suitable to care for the child.                                        
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said he understood the past program of the state has           
 been to return a child to their natural parents at all costs, even            
 if it costs the child.  He referred to Co-Chair Toohey's earlier              
 example and said he disagreed in that he thought the courts have              
 put children back in the custody of untreated sex offenders.  He              
 limited his previous statement to say that the past state program             
 has been to return children to their natural parents as much as               
 MS. RUTHERDALE said that was right.                                           
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE inquired with regard to foster care if there wasn't            
 a state limitation that only allows a person to care for a child              
 for so long, it was not to be considered an adoption, and not to              
 even try to adopt.  He asked if that was still a program.                     
 MS. RUTHERDALE said in the case of Ms. Thomas, she was strictly a             
 foster parent in the beginning, but as time went on and the                   
 decision to terminate parental rights was made, she was looked to             
 as a permanent placement.  So, it can change.  She said foster                
 parents may be told not to get attached to these children.  But               
 psychologically, Ms. Thomas has to protect herself for that awful             
 day that may happen when she has to give them up.                             
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said he was asking if the laws have changed.  He               
 noted that he and his wife had been foster parents in the past and            
 they were told it was temporary care and not to get attached.                 
 MS. RUTHERDALE commented it was difficult for the children, as                
 well.  Initially, the courts try to reunify the children with their           
 parents, but hopefully not at all costs.  If that is not going to             
 work, then permanency is looked at and if termination and adoption            
 is an option, then that is pursued.                                           
 Number 569                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON commented she had a couple of cases in mind           
 that she wanted to make sure the individuals would testify at the             
 next hearing because it clearly has happened.  She said quite often           
 what happens is that if the mother is still in the picture, people            
 wouldn't even be looking to intervene.  She illustrated a situation           
 where the father would get out of jail, the mother and father would           
 get back together again or the father becomes part of that life,              
 and there may be another assault, another victim, and the father              
 goes back to jail again.  She commented this was kind of a unique             
 situation as there are actually two protective parents who are                
 trying to protect the child, although the mother had made the                 
 determination to relinquish her parental rights.  She said she is             
 aware of another foster care situation where the mother made a                
 determination to give up her parental rights, the father was in               
 jail for sexually assaulting the children, got out of jail and got            
 custody of the children again.                                                
 Number 599                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG thanked Ms. Rutherdale for her testimony              
 and said he had an amendment that corrected Section 1, and he would           
 be happy to work with her as the bill proceeds.  He noted that Ms.            
 Thomas has an imminent date of May 14 and asked if passage of this            
 legislation would be helpful to her in her situation.                         
 MS. RUTHERDALE said she thought it was unfortunately too late for             
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referred to the letter from Kathleen Weeks            
 in which she stated, "I have seen too many parents that desperately           
 wanted to adopt a child when the child was prevented from being               
 adopted by the potential future parenting of a birth parent in jail           
 for a long term sentence."  He asked Ms. Rutherdale if she was                
 aware of circumstances where the potential of an adoption existed,            
 but the law is a barrier or an obstacle for that type of activity             
 to take place.                                                                
 MS. RUTHERDALE asked if he was referring to a potential adoption.             
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG responded affirmatively.                              
 MS. RUTHERDALE said yes, that was right.                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said it was difficult to get good                     
 statistics on how many people this really affected, because people            
 are cut off from even pursuing adoptions.                                     
 MS. RUTHERDALE said that was true and added she only works with               
 public adoptions and of course, there are a lot of private                    
 adoptions, too.                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON referred to the issue of adequate provision           
 of care and commented there could be a situation where the only               
 option available to a parent would be to go to the state and ask              
 them for child care while the parent goes to jail.  To her that               
 would be adequate care.  She thought that section really needed to            
 be clarified.                                                                 
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said she would return this bill to the sponsor for            
 additional work with Ms. Rutherdale.  The bill could be brought               
 before the committee again.  Co-Chair Toohey turned the gavel over            
 to Co-Chair Bunde for HB 60.                                                  
 HB 60 - IMPAIRMENT RATING GUIDES FOR WORKERS COMP                           
 Number 740                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said HB 60 was sponsored by Representative Bettye              
 Davis and asked Jonathan Sperber to present the bill.                         
 JONATHAN SPERBER, Legislative Aide to Representative Bettye Davis,            
 said that House Bill 60 would provide that the Department of Labor            
 use the most recently published edition of the American Medical               
 Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment,                 
 including the most recent supplementary materials in making                   
 impairment rating determinations.  He said this legislation is                
 supported by the medical community, the Department of Labor and               
 more specifically, the Workers' Compensation office.  Mr. Sperber             
 referenced the Department of Labor's position paper available in              
 committee packets, which stated in part, "Allowing the use of the             
 current edition of the publication in effect at the time of the               
 impairment rating will reduce the need for Board hearings and                 
 ensure that those applicants who meet current requirements will               
 qualify for benefits.  The older version of the AMA guides do not             
 include some injury types and do not reflect current thinking on              
 degrees of injury given new medical technology and prognosis for              
 recovery."  He directed the committee's attention to a letter in              
 their packet from Dr. Roy Schwarz who stated the AMA's position was           
 clearly stated on page 5 of the Guides 4th edition published in               
 June 1993.  That position being "The American Medical Association             
 strongly discourages the use of any but the most recent edition of            
 the Guides, because the information in it would not be based on the           
 most recent and up-to-date material."  Dr. Schwarz went on to say             
 in his letter that the position of the AMA quoted above reflects              
 advice that the AMA's staff provided in May 1992 to the staff of              
 each state medical society.  Also, it is AMA's practice to sell or            
 provide only the most recent Guides edition.                                  
 MR. SPERBER read the following statement from Representative B.               
 Davis' sponsor statement:  "There have been significant changes in            
 diagnostic and evaluation procedures over the six years.  One of              
 the most important, that the Alaska Guide does not address is how             
 the injury affects the patient's daily activity."  He noted that              
 Alaska regulations currently specify that the 1988 AMA guidelines             
 were to be used, although there has been a subsequent edition                 
 Number 910                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY inquired as to the cost of the Guides, including              
 the supplemental, and how often it is published.                              
 MR. SPERBER said each new edition costs approximately $75.  The               
 Division of Workers' Compensation requires three copies of the                
 latest edition.  The last two editions published were the 3rd in              
 1988 and the 4th edition in 1993.  He wasn't sure how much time               
 elapsed between the 1st and 2nd editions, and the 2nd and 3rd                 
 editions, but noted there was at least a five year period between             
 the publication of the 3rd and 4th editions.  Mr. Sperber said he             
 would defer the question regarding the cost of supplementary                  
 materials to the representative from the Department of Labor.                 
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE commented there were individuals in Anchorage                  
 waiting to testify via teleconference.                                        
 Number 978                                                                    
 TOBY STEINBERGER, Assistant Attorney General, Governmental Affairs            
 Section, Department of Law, said at the request of Paul Grossi,               
 Director, Worker's Compensation Division, she was available to                
 answer questions.                                                             
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said the regulations require the use of an outdated            
 version of the AMA Guide, but apparently there is a need for a                
 statutory change in order to use the current one.  He asked Ms.               
 Steinberger if this legislation should reflect the ability to                 
 update without having to come back for statutory changes.                     
 Number 1010                                                                   
 MS. STEINBERGER responded it is the Department of Law's position              
 that under the current version of the statute when the new edition            
 is enforced or used, public notice has to be given.  She commented            
 she is currently reviewing a proposed regulation which has already            
 been publicly noticed, adopting the 4th edition, 1994.  After her             
 review, the proposed regulation will be sent to Deborah Behr,                 
 Assistant Attorney General in the Legislation & Regulations Section           
 of the Department of Law.  This proposed bill may eliminate the               
 need to adopt a new regulation each time there is a new edition of            
 the Guide.                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said as he understood it, what was being requested             
 in the legislation could actually be accomplished now by statute,             
 but they were looking for a more efficient process.                           
 MS. STEINBERGER said she thought the department, through                      
 Representative B. Davis, was asking for the more efficient process,           
 but reiterated they are currently reviewing a proposed regulation             
 to adopt the 1994 edition.                                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY referred to the supplementary materials and asked             
 if the supplemental was updated every year and if they were made              
 available to the medical community and the public.  She expressed             
 concern with a regulation like this being implemented and asked if            
 the hands of the Workers' Compensation Division would be tied if we           
 were not able to get the published edition of the 1994 edition or             
 the 1995 edition or the supplemental material.                                
 MS. STEINBERGER responded the proposed regulations adopt the 1994             
 edition and she is not familiar with the supplementary materials.             
 Number 1129                                                                   
 MR. SPERBER said it was his understanding in terms of the                     
 regulatory process, that under the current Department of Law                  
 drafting procedures, a regulation could not be promulgated that               
 would have similar type wording as HB 60, but rather the far slower           
 and more cumbersome process would have to be followed.  He said in            
 this case, about eight or nine months had now elapsed since the               
 request was placed with the Department of Labor to draft a                    
 regulation which required use of the now current 4th edition of the           
 guidelines.  He thought that Co-Chair Bunde was technically correct           
 in that a regulation could address what is being addressed by HB
 60, however, doing so by regulation would be a far slower, more               
 awkward, inefficient process.                                                 
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE commented it is somewhat frightening to think that             
 regulations take longer than statutory changes.                               
 Number 1203                                                                   
 GEOFF BULLOCK, Lobbyist, Alaska State Medical Association,                    
 testified the Alaska State Medical Association supports this                  
 legislation.  The association would like to see the updated                   
 verbiage used in the statutes rather than through the regulation              
 process, in order to make it clearer.  He noted he had just                   
 received the copyright dates of the recent editions, which showed             
 there is anywhere from a few years to many years lapse between                
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked for verification of the fact there              
 were representatives of the industry, workmen's compensation                  
 insurance businesses, that testified in support of this bill before           
 the House Labor & Commerce last year.  He asked Mr. Bullock if that           
 would be a correct statement.                                                 
 MR. BULLOCK responded he had not been at the hearing last year, but           
 noted that doctors at the state level seemed very supportive of it.           
 Number 1273                                                                   
 GARREY PESKA, Lobbyist, Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home                  
 Association, testified the Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home               
 Association supports this legislation.  The association would like            
 to see the most current Guideline be effective, rather than having            
 to go through the cumbersome process of changing regulations every            
 time there is a change in the Guidelines.                                     
 Number 1309                                                                   
 PAUL GROSSI, Director, Division of Workers' Compensation,                     
 Department of Labor, testified the Department of Labor supports               
 this legislation primarily because they view it as a way of                   
 streamlining the regulatory process.  They think it is a way to get           
 an automatic adoption of the most current AMA Guides.  The                    
 department is required to do this anyway under the current law                
 because they are required to use the AMA Guides.  The problem is it           
 requires a regulatory change every time there is a change in the              
 AMA Guide.  While the regulatory process is long and cumbersome, he           
 doesn't know that it takes as long as a statutory change, but the             
 fact is once they have the statutory change, it will be there for             
 the duration.  He pointed out the division had proposed regulations           
 to make it the most current Guide, but that process was started               
 last August.  Mr. Grossi said he talked with representatives of the           
 AMA Guide last August and they indicated it would probably be                 
 another two years before a new Guide would be in effect.                      
 Number 1411                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Mr. Grossi if he thought "At the time           
 of rating" or similar language should be inserted at the beginning            
 on subsection (b) on line 5.                                                  
 MR. GROSSI said he thought the current language would work fine.              
 He noted they could pass a regulation for an effective date which             
 would provide some lag time after the publishing, so the medical              
 community, insurance community, employers' groups, employees'                 
 representatives, and the division could get copies of the most                
 recent edition.  There would probably have to be a little bit of              
 lag time to allow that to occur.                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON verified that Mr. Grossi didn't feel there            
 was a need for that language.  She understood there were people who           
 thought this should be added.                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS interjected it was her understanding based            
 on the information her staff received from Representative                     
 Robinson's office that the request for the language change                    
 originated from the Department of Labor.                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON confirmed that.                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS said if the representative from the                   
 Department of Labor had stated the language change is not needed,             
 then it is not needed.                                                        
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Mr. Grossi to do some research on the issue              
 and get back to the committee.                                                
 MR. GROSSI replied the Department of Labor would do that.                     
 Number 1524                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY noted there would be a lag time between the              
 publication of the new edition and the time it would be available             
 in offices in which the department would not be able to effect any            
 MR. GROSSI said he wasn't exactly sure how it would be done.  One             
 of the possibilities was to pass a regulation which stated that               
 quarterly, by way of a bulletin, the division would publish a                 
 bulletin indicating the AMA Guides that would be in use during that           
 quarter.  He reiterated this was just one possibility.  It would be           
 simple in that it would require passing just one regulation and               
 that regulation could be used until the law changed.                          
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY differed with Mr. Grossi in that a regulation            
 that conflicts with statute is not enforceable.  He commented he              
 wasn't sure how to define "most recent published edition" and that            
 it may not be considered effective until you can reasonably receive           
 a copy of that edition.  He emphasized there would be some lag time           
 MR. GROSSI said he agreed it would be difficult.  If there was a              
 rating that was occurring in a doctor's office on the day the new             
 Guide was being published, there was no way they could possibly be            
 using the most recent published edition.  He said there would have            
 to be a way to put it in effect and thought it would be relatively            
 simple to just have a three month lag time.                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said an automatic way of handling it would be            
 to work with the material you have and if the effective date of the           
 new material was after your termination, an adjustment could be               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said he would like Mr. Grossi to address this lag              
 time issue before the next hearing on the bill.                               
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY questioned whether the difference would be that               
 great.  She said it didn't seem likely that technology was suddenly           
 going to develop something in a certain area that would totally               
 eliminate a person from workers' compensation.                                
 MR. GROSSI interjected it was the most current science at a given             
 time and added that usually the changes are not dramatic.  There              
 may be new research that comes out, but it was usually incremental            
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE commented on the zero fiscal note and asked if we              
 start using the new manual and it addresses how these definitions             
 would affect a person's normal life, is that likely to introduce a            
 large number of new clients into workers' compensation.                       
 MR. GROSSI said it wouldn't change the number of clients in                   
 workers' compensation.  It would depend on the number of injuries             
 that occur.  If there was a permanent partial impairment that was             
 ratable, then any given injured worker was entitled to a permanent            
 partial impairment rating.                                                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE directed Mr. Grossi's attention to the sponsor                 
 statement which states the new guide would now address how the                
 injury affects a patient's daily activity.  He asked if Mr. Grossi            
 didn't anticipate that would significantly increase the number of             
 people on workers' compensation.                                              
 MR. GROSSi said he didn't see how it could.  The number of people             
 on workers' comp is dependent on the number of injuries that occur.           
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE clarified that it would be defining the injury                 
 differently.  In other words, it wasn't defined as a workers' comp            
 injury prior to the new definition, but now it was.                           
 MR. GROSSI didn't think it would have an effect.  He said, "The               
 only possibility would be if there is some new science that came              
 out that would allow for a type of rating system that formerly they           
 didn't have the knowledge to do that, then that could possibly                
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Mr. Grossi to address this issue at the next             
 MR. GROSSI said someone from the medical community would need to              
 address that.                                                                 
 Number 1844                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he wanted to clarify the effect of the           
 lag time.  As he understood it, a physician would make a judgment             
 on the rating and depending on which edition that physician is                
 using, it could have an impact on the judgment of whether there was           
 coverage or not.                                                              
 MR. GROSSI said it would depend.  They would have to use a version            
 of the AMA Guide and the rating would have to occur according to              
 those guidelines.                                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said one could be out-of-date because of              
 the mail, and that is why it was important for the timing to be               
 precise.  It could have an affect on a judgment which would result            
 in a dispute over whether there was coverage or not based on the              
 MR. GROSSI said it was important that it be established and thought           
 it could be done either through statute or regulation.  it was                
 possible to have a regulation that would allow for some period of             
 lag time.  He said it would need to be done that way to ensure that           
 the ratings would be done systematically.                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if Mr. Grossi wouldn't prefer to have           
 a specific statutory date certain, to avoid having to publish a               
 MR. GROSSI responded the department would be happy if they didn't             
 have to adopt a regulation on this.                                           
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE closed the meeting to public testimony.  He                    
 reiterated the policy of the House HESS Committee to not pass                 
 bills out of committee on first hearing.                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON reminded committee members the language had           
 been changed from workmens' comp to workers' comp.                            
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said this bill will be held in committee for an                
 additional hearing.                                                           
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE announced the Joint House/Senate HESS hearing on               
 Wednesday, January 24 at 9:00 a.m. in the Butrovich Room for a                
 briefing on the Comprehensive High Risk Insurance Pool.  There                
 would not be a meeting of the House HESS Committee on Thursday,               
 January 25.                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE adjourned the meeting of the House HESS Committee at           
 4:26 p.m.                                                                     

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