Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/25/1998 03:21 PM House L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
    HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                
                 February 25, 1998                                             
                     3:21 p.m.                                                 
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
Representative Norman Rokeberg, Chairman                                       
Representative John Cowdery, Vice Chairman                                     
Representative Bill Hudson                                                     
Representative Jerry Sanders                                                   
Representative Joe Ryan                                                        
Representative Tom Brice                                                       
Representative Gene Kubina                                                     
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
All members present                                                            
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
* HOUSE BILL NO. 383                                                           
"An Act relating to expected deaths that occur at home or in a                 
health care facility."                                                         
     - MOVED HB 383 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                           
HOUSE BILL NO. 400                                                             
"An Act combining parts of the Department of Commerce and Economic             
Development and parts of the Department of Community and Regional              
Affairs by transferring some of their duties to a new Department of            
Commerce and Rural Development; transferring some of the duties of             
the Department of Commerce and Economic Development and the                    
Department of Community and Regional Affairs to other existing                 
agencies; eliminating the Department of Commerce and Economic                  
Development and the Department of Community and Regional Affairs;              
relating to the Department of Commerce and Rural Development;                  
adjusting the membership of certain multi-member bodies to reflect             
the transfer of duties among departments and the elimination of                
departments; and providing for an effective date."                             
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                          
(* First public hearing)                                                       
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                
BILL: HB 383                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: EXPECTED DEATHS                                                   
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) DAVIS                                           
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                          
02/06/98      2239     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                  
02/06/98      2239     (H)  L&C, JUDICIARY                                     
02/25/98               (H)  L&C AT  3:15 PM CAPITOL 17                         
BILL: HB 400                                                                   
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) KOHRING, Austerman, Barnes,                     
Cowdery, Hodgins, Kelly, Mulder, Ogan, Ryan, Therriault, Vezey                 
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                          
02/12/98      2307     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                  
02/12/98      2308     (H)  L&C, FINANCE                                       
02/23/98               (H)  L&C AT  3:15 PM CAPITOL 17                         
02/23/98               (H)  MINUTE(L&C)                                        
02/25/98               (H)  L&C AT  3:15 PM CAPITOL 17                         
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                       
Capitol Building, Room 513                                                     
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-2693                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of HB 383.                                        
DEB DAVIDSON, Legislative Administrative Assistant                             
   to Representative Gary Davis                                                
Alaska State Legislature                                                       
Capitol Building, Room 513                                                     
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-2693                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 383.                             
DR. MICHAEL PROPST, State Medical Examiner                                     
Division of Public Health                                                      
Department of Health and Social Services                                       
5700 East Tudor Road                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska 99507                                                        
Telephone:  (907) 269-5090                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against the "no duty to notify peace             
                    officer" portion of HB 383.                                
DEL SMITH, Deputy Commissioner                                                 
Department of Public Safety                                                    
P.O. Box 111200                                                                
Juneau, Alaska 99811-1200                                                      
Telephone:  (907) 465-4322                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against the "no duty to notify peace            
                    officer" portion of HB 383.                                
CYNTHIA ELLIOT, Staff Registered Nurse                                         
First Choice Home Health Care, Incorporated                                    
460 Roy Way                                                                    
Kenai, Alaska 99611                                                            
Telephone:  (907) 260-5959                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 383.                           
TOM WILKINSON, Staff Nurse                                                     
Central Peninsula General Hospital                                             
250 Hospital Place                                                             
Soldotna, Alaska 99669                                                         
Telephone:  (907) 262-8157                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 383.                           
DEBRA SHUEY                                                                    
HC 2, Box 737                                                                  
Soldotna, Alaska 99669                                                         
Telephone:  (907) 283-6650                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 383.                           
LIZ SCHUBERT, Executive Director                                               
Hospice of the Central Peninsula                                               
35477 Kenai Spur Highway, Suite 214                                            
Soldotna, Alaska 99669                                                         
Telephone:  (907) 262-0453                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 383.                           
CHIEF SHIRLEY WARNER, Soldotna Police Department                               
44510 Sterling Highway                                                         
Soldotna, Alaska 99669                                                         
Telephone:  (907) 262-4455                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against the "no duty to notify peace            
                    officer" portion of HB 383.                                
DAVID CORAY                                                                    
P.O. Box 3234                                                                  
Soldotna, Alaska 99669                                                         
Telephone:  (907) 262-4839                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 383.                           
LORI BROWN, Administrator                                                      
First Choice Home Health Care, Incorporated                                    
245 North Binkley, Number 101                                                  
Soldotna, Alaska 99669                                                         
Telephone:  (907) 260-5959                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 383, suggested                 
                     possible amendment.                                       
JEFF BUSH, Deputy Commissioner                                                 
Department of Commerce and Economic Development                                
P.O. Box 110800                                                                
Juneau, Alaska 99811-0800                                                      
Telephone:  (907) 465-2500                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 400, provided                        
LAMAR COTTEN, Deputy Commissioner                                              
Department of Community and Regional Affairs                                   
P.O. Box 112100                                                                
Juneau, Alaska 99811-2100                                                      
Telephone:  (907) 465-4700                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 400, provided                        
REPRESENTATIVE VIC KOHRING                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                       
Capitol Building, Room 421                                                     
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-2186                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of HB 400.                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
TAPE 98-18, SIDE A                                                             
Number 0001                                                                    
CHAIRMAN NORMAN ROKEBERG called the House Labor and Commerce                   
Standing Committee meeting to order at 3:21 p.m.  Members present              
at the call to order were Representatives Rokeberg, Cowdery, Hudson            
and Ryan.  Representative Sanders, Brice and Kubina arrived at 3:23            
p.m., 3:32 p.m., and 3:33 p.m. respectively.                                   
HB 383 - EXPECTED DEATHS                                                       
Number 0044                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee's first item of business             
would be HB 383, "An Act relating to expected deaths that occur at             
home or in a health care facility."  He invited the bill sponsor to            
come forward.                                                                  
Number 0059                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS came forward to present HB 383.  He                  
stated HB 383 addresses a concern that was brought to his attention            
over the interim.  He gave the situation of a person who is dying              
and whose death is considered imminent, who is known to be in a                
physical state where survival is not expected, and who is being                
cared for by an agency such as a hospice, home health care service,            
or some existing organization providing a bereaving service.  He               
noted these services assist not only the patient, but also the                 
family members.  Representative Davis stated that current statutes             
require the police department be notified when that person passes,             
and the police then come and investigate the cause of death.  He               
said it seems this process is often invasive, noting different                 
peace officers react differently.  He said it takes a tactful                  
person to enter that situation, and he wondered why there is even              
the statute requiring the person at the scene to call the police               
officer in the case of an expected death where that is agreed and              
signed by the patient and a physician.  Representative Davis                   
indicated he thought, with all the duties and work peace officer               
groups are involved in nowadays, they would welcome a reduction in             
Number 0258                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated HB 383 actually clarifies the statute              
because they have found this situation is currently treated                    
differently in different parts of the state.  In some areas the                
policeman will automatically come to the house, with sirens going,             
and do his investigation.  Representative Davis noted he was not               
sure, but he thought then the policeman pronounced death and the               
body could then be moved.  He said it is currently a bit vague in              
statute, noting there is a "may" which some treat as a "shall."  At            
this time, some police departments respond and others don't.  He               
stated HB 383 would also clarify that and that was the                         
legislation's intent.  Representative Davis referred to the                    
sectional analysis of Section 1 of HB 383.  That part of the                   
sectional analysis reads:  "Amends AS 08.68.395 "Determination of              
death by registered nurse," subsection (a) to specify that required            
documentation for anticipated death include the physician's                    
agreement to sign the death certificate if the death occurs as                 
anticipated."  Representative Davis indicated, because of the cost             
factors involved in the care of a dying person, they are currently             
offering as many opportunities as they can for that person to pass             
as peacefully as possible at home with family members, rather than             
in a more expensive hospital setting.  He stated there is an                   
"expected death form" currently utilized which is signed by the                
patient and a physician.  Representative Davis said when that form             
is in place, and there is an imminent and expected death, then this            
"no duty to call the police officer" would come into play.  He                 
noted this is the essence of HB 383.                                           
Number 0451                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted, for purposes of clarity, he appreciated               
the inclusion of copies of the relevant statutes in the bill                   
packet.  He asked where the reporting requirement was located,                 
questioning whether it was in Chapter 65.                                      
Number 0485                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS replied he thought the reference was in AS                
12.65.005 which reads:  "Sec. 12.65.005.  Duty to notify state                 
medical examiner.  (a) Unless the person has reasonable grounds to             
believe that notice has already been given, a person who attends a             
death or has knowledge of a death, in addition to notifying a peace            
officer, shall immediately notify the state medical examiner when              
the death appears to have" [continues with subsections (1) through             
(10), and subsection (b)].                                                     
Number 0516                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BILL HUDSON indicated this was a topic not many                 
people thought about unless they were personally affected, and he              
appreciated Representative Davis bringing it to his attention.  He             
referred to the copies of the statutes in the bill packet, Sec.                
12.65.010, subsection (c), which read:  "The body of a person whose            
death has been or should be reported to the state medical examiner             
under this section may not be moved or otherwise disturbed without             
the permission of the state medical examiner."  Representative                 
Hudson stated there was no change in that language, asking                     
Representative Davis if that was correct.                                      
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated Representative Hudson was correct.                 
Number 0570                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON noted that was kind of important as they                 
looked at this.                                                                
Number 0578                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked Representative Davis how it worked if the              
police officer was not going to be notified, but the body was not              
going to be moved.                                                             
Number 0591                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS replied it was his understanding that the body            
could be moved after death had been pronounced.  He asked his staff            
to come forward.                                                               
Number 0631                                                                    
DEB DAVIDSON, Legislative Administrative Assistant to                          
Representative Gary Davis, came forward.  She asked Chairman                   
Rokeberg to restate the question.                                              
Number 0638                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG restated his question, referring to                          
Representative Hudson's question about not being able to move the              
body until the medical examiner was notified.                                  
Number 0668                                                                    
MS. DAVIDSON responded that, according to the copy of the                      
procedures she received from the state medical examiner's office,              
there is an "800" phone number which she thinks is 1 (888) DECEASE.            
She said it appears this is a 24-hour number rotated among the                 
staff or going directly to the medical examiner, which can be                  
called at any time of the day when death occurs.  Ms. Davidson                 
stated, "You tell them that the death occurred, certain information            
that's already required:  name, address, that type of thing."  She             
said at that point the medical examiner gives permission for the               
body to be moved, and then the funeral director or whoever may be              
called.  Ms. Davidson indicated the state medical examiner might be            
able to answer that question better.                                           
Number 0734                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOE RYAN stated, for the record, his wife is a                  
registered nurse.  He noted he thought Representative Davis's wife             
was also a nurse.                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS replied in the affirmative.                               
Number 0750                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN asked if this was going to incur an added                  
liability on registered nurses' licenses, noting only a physician              
previously has had the power to sign the death certificate.                    
Number 0766                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated he would answer and then refer to his              
staff who has done more research.  He said currently registered                
nurses are authorized to pronounce death, so he doesn't think that             
would be impacted.                                                             
Number 0790                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN COWDERY stated he has had members of his family            
expire in his home on more than one occasion, noting the police                
showed up without sirens and, in fact, he said the police had been             
comforting.  Representative Cowdery said it was a crazy world,                 
indicating somebody might sign something like an expected death                
form and then miraculously live ten more years.  He asked what                 
would happen if foul play entered this and how was that situation              
addressed, noting he thought police involvement was for the                    
assurance that no foul play is involved.                                       
Number 0864                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS replied he thought there were two obvious                 
questions which came to everyone's mind in this.  He noted the                 
notice of imminent death is valid for 120 days - it is not                     
unlimited, so he said there is a limit there.  Representative Davis            
commented that number is adjustable, but he thinks it is what is               
used in the current paperwork.  Representative Davis said bring up             
the possibility of foul play is a very good point, and something               
many people are concerned with these days.  He stated the                      
professionals involved are licensed and their reputations are on               
the line, noting he referred to home health care and hospice                   
personnel but there may be others.  Representative Davis stated he             
would expect these professionals to call the police if they had any            
suspicion themselves, indicating he thought just the implication of            
foul play getting to the press or the community would ruin an                  
organization and possibly that individual professional.  He said he            
didn't know whether that is enough rationale to relieve the                    
suspicion on any individual's part, but stated that is how he has              
rationalized the situation.                                                    
Number 0967                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY commented he would like address questions to            
representatives of the Alaska State Troopers.                                  
Number 0978                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted the presence of Representative Sanders,                
Representative Brice and Representative Kubina.  Chairman Rokeberg             
stated he had some questions, but would like to proceed first to               
the other witnesses.                                                           
Number 1074                                                                    
DR. MICHAEL PROPST, State Medical Examiner, Division of Public                 
Health, Department of Health and Social Services, testified via                
teleconference from Anchorage.  He stated he was speaking in                   
opposition to the portion of HB 383 regarding notification of                  
police officers.  Dr. Propst said he is also familiar with death at            
home, noting his mother died at home not many years ago in Oregon              
from pancreatic cancer.  He said neither he nor his father were                
upset or alarmed by the deputy sheriff who stopped by shortly after            
his mother died; he said the officer's presence was comforting.                
Dr. Propst stated that, as the state medical examiner, he practices            
forensic pathology.  His duties under the statutes are to                      
investigate deaths including deaths in suspicious or unusual                   
circumstances, and he said, in general, that includes deaths which             
occur at home.  Dr. Propst stated one of the basic principles of               
forensic pathology is that the easiest person to murder is a person            
who is expected to die, such as those registered in an expected                
death program.  He said the ability to have a brief police visit at            
the time of death provides a final check and balance in the system             
for expected home deaths.  The officer responds without a blaring              
siren or flashing red lights, evaluates the scene, confirms the                
identity of the deceased, briefly views the remains for obvious                
evidence of injury or violence and reviews the medications of the              
deceased.  Dr. Propst noted the officer's interchange with those               
present allows the officer to assess the demeanor of those present             
and (indisc.) the appropriateness of that demeanor.  If all is                 
okay, the officer's visit is relatively brief and, in Dr. Propst's             
words, "But a short intrusion."  He indicated the checks and                   
balances provided by the officer's visit includes:  1) confirming              
the identity of the deceased, and 2) confirming the lack of                    
evidence of injury or violence, whether self-inflicted or inflicted            
by another.  Dr. Propst stated the officer's presence at the scene             
allows allegations of a variety of bad actions to be addressed:                
elder abuse; covert, "Kevorkian-like" assisted suicide; and                    
maltreatment by the home health care provider.  Dr. Propst stated              
he opposes the section of HB 383 dealing with AS 12.65 for those               
reasons.  He said he thinks the passage of this has the potential              
to take away information gathering about the now-deceased patient.             
Dr. Propst said he relies, as state medical examiner, on the                   
information gathered by the police on a death at home.  It allows              
him to determine that the death was a natural one and did not                  
involve any kind of malfeasance.                                               
Number 1250                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN stated being autopsied was a personal phobia of            
his, and he asked Dr. Propst what someone had to do when he or she             
died to avoid one.                                                             
Number 1269                                                                    
DR. PROPST said dying under a situation which was a natural disease            
process under the care of a physician in a hospital would pretty               
much guarantee that.  Unless the family wanted some sort of post-              
mortem examination, he indicated an autopsy would not be necessary             
in that situation.                                                             
Number 1290                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked Dr. Propst if he knew of any strange                
circumstances to date in any Alaskan expected home deaths.                     
Number 1302                                                                    
DR. PROPST replied that he had investigated at least one case where            
elder abuse was alleged within the last two years, and said he was             
able to prove that allegation was unfounded.                                   
Number 1314                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON indicated it sounded like Dr. Propst's                   
concern was Section 3 of the bill, "No duty to notify peace officer            
of an expected home death."  Representative Hudson asked about the             
bill's other provisions.                                                       
DR. PROPST responded he had no objections to those other                       
provisions, stating his objections were to Section 3.                          
Number 1331                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said he understood Dr. Propst had no                     
objection to the other provisions, but he asked if Dr. Propst could            
speak to the validity of the need for the other changes.                       
DR. PROPST stated he believed that those changes are satisfactory.             
Number 1351                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS noted Alaska is a large place and some areas              
lack police, but there may be a hospice, home health care, or a                
registered nurse attending an expected death.  He asked Dr. Propst             
how those deaths were currently handled.                                       
Number 1373                                                                    
DR. PROPST answered there were two points.  He said that, for the              
most part, the police agency responsible for the area responds to              
every scene of death.  In areas covered by the Alaska State                    
Troopers, he believes the troopers respond to each death.  Dr.                 
Propst said other police agencies in other areas, including village            
public safety officers (VPSOs), also respond to death scenes.                  
Number 1401                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked if the statutes requiring the body not              
to be moved until a police officer has arrived and an investigation            
has taken place still applied.                                                 
DR. PROPST answered that is correct, and he said that is the way               
the current medical examiner statute is structured.                            
Number 1419                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN noted the change in Section 3, stating, "It                
also doesn't have to be notified in case of expected home deaths               
where a person authorized to pronounce deaths was in attendance or             
has knowledge of the death.  Isn't that a physician or a licensed              
registered nurse, and if they are in attendance, or has knowledge              
and been treating this person, anticipate the death, are they not              
better trained to do this than a police officer?"                              
Number 1442                                                                    
DR. PROPST replied that police officers are trained in death                   
investigation.  The doctors and nurses present are trained in                  
treating living people and not necessarily in dealing with the                 
investigation of death.                                                        
Number 1458                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY related the story of an old-timer who died,             
he said, out in Western Alaska near Haines Lake.  He said a                    
Talkeetna bush pilot happened to land to check on the old guy, and             
the old-timer was dead in bed.  The last mark on the calendar was              
on September 18, 1991 and the bush pilot flew in on September 21.              
The pilot notified the Alaska State Troopers who then came out.                
Representative Cowdery said he wasn't sure how the body was                    
removed, but said it went to Fairbanks.  Representative Cowdery                
indicated he was commenting on what he understands to be the                   
current requirements, noting that guy was 96 years old and it was              
determined that he died a natural death.                                       
Number 1540                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted Dr. Propst had indicated there was one                 
incident in his experience, where, because of the investigating                
police officers he had been able track down some criminal activity.            
The chairman commented that he was receiving some head-shaking from            
the committee.                                                                 
Number 1558                                                                    
DR. PROPST clarified that there was one instance in the last two               
years where elder abuse had been alleged but his further                       
examination of that case found no evidence of abuse.                           
Number 1570                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked for rough statistics on the number of                  
deaths reported to the state medical examiner in the last two                  
DR. PROPST replied 900 to 950 deaths per year.                                 
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG clarified that the Dr. Propst's testimony was                
that one alleged incident may have occurred out of approximately               
1,900 deaths in two years.                                                     
DR. PROPST replied that was what had come to mind.                             
Number 1596                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if there was a requirement that a police               
officer confiscate all the medications the deceased had been taking            
when an officer came into the home after a death.                              
Number 1610                                                                    
DR. PROPST responded he did not know.  He said he imagined it had              
to do with the police agency and the police agency's specific                  
requirements for its death investigation protocol.  Dr. Propst                 
noted he did not make the rules for the police.                                
Number 1622                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked, in term of the reportage in the state of              
Alaska, did Dr. Propst notice a difference in the time frame and               
the quality of the investigative work for reports between urban                
areas such as the Municipality of Anchorage, where the Anchorage               
Police Department (APD) makes the reports, and bush areas where the            
Alaska State Troopers are making reports.                                      
Number 1635                                                                    
DR. PROPST stated that each of those police agencies are very well-            
trained, and he has come to rely on both Anchorage Police                      
Department officers and Alaska State Troopers, in terms of being an            
extension and giving reliable information about their findings at              
the death scene.                                                               
Number 1648                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG indicated there was clear evidence before the                
committee that a number of hospice groups and medical providers,               
for example, hospitals and assisted living facilities, were                    
examining ways to facilitate the concept of "expected death."  He              
also added the review the state has done (indisc.) Comfort One                 
Program [the Alaska DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Program, also known as            
the Alaska Comfort One Program].  Chairman Rokeberg stated, "I                 
guess the issue that you wish to raise here is whether there is --             
the police officer investigation is necessary.  You claim it is                
necessary when there has been a - a procedure created by this                  
legislation to allow for not reporting, is that correct?"                      
Number 1685                                                                    
DR. PROPST replied that was correct.  He stated he feels the police            
officer's visit at the time of death provides a final check and                
balance on the system.                                                         
Number 1691                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GENE KUBINA referred to the case of alleged elder               
abuse being discussed and he asked if it had been the police                   
officer who had given Dr. Propst a report of abuse.                            
DR. PROPST answered in the affirmative.                                        
Number 1701                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA stated then that the police officer had seen             
something when the officer went out there that made him or her                 
think that there was some abuse.                                               
DR. PROPST answered in the affirmative.                                        
REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA said then that was found to be not the case.             
Number 1715                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked Dr. Propst if he knew of differences in             
the way police departments currently handle the situation.                     
Number 1721                                                                    
DR. PROPST answered in the affirmative, stating there are                      
differences depending on the area of the state.  To the best of his            
knowledge, the Alaska State Troopers go to the scene of a death in             
the areas they cover.  In the Anchorage area, he said the Anchorage            
Police Department goes to the scene of one of these deaths.  Dr.               
Propst said Juneau is the only area he is aware of where officers              
are not routinely sent to the scene of death.  He said the Juneau              
Police Department is notified, and may or may not send an officer.             
Number 1750                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS clarified for the committee that he thinks "no            
code," meaning no siren and no lights, is standard in most places,             
indicating he used the "flashing lights" analogy to indicate the               
differences in the ways different departments handled this                     
situation and that he was not personally aware of anybody using                
flashing lights or sirens as a standard practice in this situation.            
Number 1772                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked Dr. Propst to differentiate for the                    
committee what type of institutional settings are allowed to be                
exempted from a law enforcement officer investigation of a death,              
noting a hospital would probably be exempt from that requirement.              
Number 1787                                                                    
DR. PROPST added that he expected an extended care facility would              
be exempt from that requirement.  Dr. Propst stated (indisc.) area             
he was concerned about is death at home or in a residence, as                  
opposed to a place where medical care is routinely given.                      
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG clarified that it was death at home, and any                 
institution would be exempt from the requirement basically.                    
DR. PROPST replied basically yes.                                              
Number 1808                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG gave the example of a small, assisted living                 
facility "with just a few that are licensed in the state of                    
Alaska," commenting that these facilities would not be required to             
have a law enforcement officer investigate.                                    
DR. PROPST replied that, quite frankly, he had not thought that                
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted that there are a number of those                       
facilities, particularly in urban areas of the state.                          
Number 1826                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN asked Dr. Propst what the cost was for the                 
state medical examiner's to perform an autopsy.                                
DR. PROPST replied it was approximately $1,000 dollars involved in             
transporting the body to Anchorage, preparing it after the autopsy             
and transporting it back to the place of death.                                
Number 1839                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON noted Dr. Propst had indicated approximately             
900 deaths occurred at home annually, asking if he had heard                   
Number 1850                                                                    
DR. PROPST replied that the question to which he had responded was             
how many deaths were reported to the state medical examiner in the             
last couple of years, and his answer to that question had been                 
around 900 to 950 [per year, see Dr. Propst's previous testimony].             
Number 1856                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON noted HB 383 was speaking about those who                
want to die at home and who complete the expected home death                   
registration form, which is signed by the attending physician and              
a copy is provided to the state medical examiner.  Representative              
Hudson said under these and only these circumstances, he presumed              
at any rate, the "no duty to notify police officer" kicked in.                 
Representative Hudson asked Dr. Propst how many of circumstances he            
was notified of were dealing with normally anticipated or pre-                 
anticipated terminal life cases.  He asked Dr. Propst, when he was             
notified, if most of the cases he was notified of were people who              
simply expired because of old age or illness, and how that fit                 
within the context of HB 383.                                                  
Number 1906                                                                    
DR. PROPST replied that the 900 to 950 did not include the roughly             
200 to 250 deaths the state medical examiner's office is notified              
of that are expected deaths.  He said that of the 900 to 950, about            
a third are people who have died suddenly and unexpectedly "from               
apparent causes that investigation has no suspicion whatsoever and             
no reason to further examine."                                                 
Number 1926                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON commented that HB 383 would not exempt police            
officer notification in these cases; it would be only those people             
who wanted to die at home, who had a limited life expectancy and               
literally signed a form and filed a copy with the state medical                
examiner's office.  Representative Hudson asked Dr. Propst if he               
still felt notification of a police officer was still necessary                
under those circumstances.                                                     
Number 1950                                                                    
DR. PROPST replied he did.                                                     
Number 1958                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if the state medical examiner's office                 
already had a procedure in place of for expected deaths, and what              
form did that take.                                                            
Number 1965                                                                    
DR. PROPST answered that an expected home death program has                    
basically been in operation since the Office of the State Medical              
Examiner was created by the legislature in 1993.  He said the                  
program has varied somewhat by geographic area.  Dr. Propst noted              
the Alaska Comfort One Program passed by the legislature a couple              
of years ago has now been implemented and the state medical                    
examiner's office is utilizing the paperwork generated in that                 
program as the expected home death registration material.                      
Number 1993                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked what the purpose and value of the medical              
examiner's office's expected death program was if it was not to                
warn the medical examiner's office about these circumstances.                  
Number 2002                                                                    
DR. PROPST replied that was exactly the purpose of the expected                
home death program.  If there is no suspicion of foul play when the            
person dies and the police officer does his brief investigation,               
that means the medical examiner's office does not have to                      
investigate further, saving the state money.                                   
Number 2019                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG stated, "Therefore, Dr. Propst, you would prefer             
to see a police officer in the loop so that you don't have to be in            
the loop, is that right?"                                                      
Number 2025                                                                    
DR. PROPST commented that the number of police officers statewide              
was probably in the "tens" and his entire office staff was ten                 
people covering the entire state.  He stated he would like to                  
(indisc.) that not everybody who is reported to the medical                    
examiner's office receives an autopsy.  Dr. Propst stated each                 
death is investigated, but some deaths are sufficiently                        
investigated either by the police officer or by his office's                   
medical examiner investigators.                                                
Number 2050                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG stated Dr. Propst was welcome to stand by if                 
there were further questions when the committee considered HB 383.             
Number 2059                                                                    
DEL SMITH, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Public Safety (DPS),             
came forward to testify.  Mr. Smith said that to echo most of what             
Dr. Propst had said, DPS does have some concerns about this because            
of the checks and the balances.  Mr. Smith said, noting he  thought            
Representative Cowdery had referred to this, when he was at the                
Anchorage Police Department in the late 1980s the department                   
established what was called the no-code death response for the very            
reasons that have been brought up that day.  He said  a family who             
has just suffered an expected death is still having problems with              
that, and he stated, "To have a squad car come skidding the last               
half a block with red lights on and people leap out with guns is               
not an appropriate response."  Mr. Smith said the Anchorage Police             
Department still has that response today; they do respond to every             
one of those deaths, but they are aware that this is going to                  
happen so they do the cursory check Dr. Propst referred to.  The               
Alaska State Troopers do the same.  He noted he spoke to Captain               
DeCapua of the Juneau Police Department, they do, they don't                   
necessarily go out to the hospice on all of these situations, but              
certainly if it was an unexpected death they would respond, but he             
noted the Juneau Police Department is the one agency he found that             
doesn't respond to necessarily every one.  If they've been notified            
by the hospice and they're comfortable with the circumstances,                 
Captain DeCapua said they don't respond to every one.  Mr. Smith               
said Captain DeCapua did tell him they felt they ought to be                   
notified that it was going to occur in all situations, indicating              
this was so they could prevent inappropriate responses.  Mr. Smith             
said he is certainly sensitive from his experience over the years              
to responding to these kinds of situations, having his officers at             
APD and the Alaska State Troopers respond.  He said he guesses, "If            
you're going to change that, I just want you to be aware that that             
is a check and balance that occurs, and although they may be rare,             
there may be a circumstance where somebody's expedited on the way              
out that would not necessarily have occurred so quickly."  He said             
maybe it was his suspicious mind from his business, but he thinks              
it is helpful to have the officer respond.                                     
Number 2150                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY said then Mr. Smith would basically oppose              
this legislation.                                                              
MR. SMITH said he thought yes, in the legislation's current form.              
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked Mr. Smith if the deletion of some                 
areas in the bill would satisfy him.                                           
Number 2165                                                                    
MR. SMITH stated the only area he has discussed is Section 3 of the            
bill, noting he had discussed it the previous day with the bill                
sponsor and staff.  Mr. Smith said he realized there were some                 
situations where police officers have not appropriately responded,             
noting he was not exactly sure how to deal with that.  He said he              
thought there were seven or so different forms around the state:               
the Comfort One Program form, the DNR form, commenting it took him             
a while to figure out it meant do not resuscitate, not the                     
Department of Natural Resources.  Mr. Smith indicated this meant               
there are things that could be done, but said he is ultimately                 
concerned, as a police officer, that there might be something                  
important at the scene that would tip the police officer off that              
this person did not go as easily as he or she might have.  He noted            
Dr. Propst's people based in Anchorage do not get a look.                      
Number 2211                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG related he had the unfortunate circumstance of               
witnessing his father expire at his father's home in Anchorage a               
few years previously, after Mr. Smith had left the APD.  Chairman              
Rokeberg stated the mortuary showed up and they had to wait                    
approximately 1 1/2 hours for the police department because the                
death watch was busy that morning.  He said the officers did not               
show up with sirens or lights, apologized for the delay, but                   
indicated their presence was intrusive.  He said they interviewed              
everyone in the household and confiscated his father's medications             
and related supplies.  Chairman Rokeberg indicated his father had              
been suffering from cancer for several years so his death was                  
expected situation; he said it clearly did not warrant any kind of             
overview by law enforcement.  He stated (indisc.) totally                      
unwarranted, and he thought that is what this bill calls for.  To              
Representative Davis, Chairman Rokeberg noted HB 383 probably did              
not even belong in the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee,            
but said he had some concerns about some of the language in even               
Sections 1 and 2 of the bill.  He stated was not sure he quite                 
understood those and asked the sponsor what he would like the                  
committee to do.                                                               
Number 2298                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated he had been surprised to see HB 383                
referred to Labor and Commerce as well.  Representative Davis said             
he was a proponent of law enforcement and did not want to interfere            
to a degree law enforcement was reasonably uncomfortable with.                 
Representative Davis noted HB 383's next committee of referral was             
the House Judiciary Standing Committee and stated he would like to             
see the bill moved.  Representative Davis said he wanted to work               
with the Department of Public Safety, addressing the reasonable                
concerns the department might have.  He indicated he thought moving            
the bill might help bring about a reasonable solution.                         
Number 2357                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted he was not sure he understood Section 2.               
In response to a note delivered by the teleconference moderator,               
Chairman Rokeberg announced that there were seven people who wished            
to testify on HB 383 via teleconference and the committee had been             
unaware of these witnesses until that moment.  Chairman Rokeberg               
referred back to his question about Section 2, stating it seemed               
like the ability of a registered nurse to sign a death certificate             
was being taken away, and he asked if that was the sponsor's                   
Number 2381                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS answered in the negative.  He noted they were             
changing the existing statute from wording that says, "The nurse               
shall sign the death certificate," to, "The nurse shall provide the            
necessary information to the person signing the death certificate,"            
which would be a physician.  Section 2 of the bill reads:                      
     AS 08.68.395(b) is amended to read:  (b) A registered                     
     nurse who has determined and pronounced death under this                  
     section shall document the clinical criteria for the                      
     determination and pronouncement in the person's medical                   
     or clinical record and notify the physician who                           
     determined that the prognosis for the patient was for an                  
     anticipated death.  The registered nurse shall provide to                 
     the person who will sign the death certificate [, WHICH                   
     MUCH INCLUDE] the (1) name of the deceased; (2) presence                  
     of a contagious disease, if known; and (3) date and time                  
     of death.                                                                 
Number 2390                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if that wouldn't take the ability of a                 
registered nurse to sign a death certificate away.                             
Number 2434                                                                    
MS. DAVIDSON stated wording was changed because the "expected home             
death case report" forms currently used by the state medical                   
examiner, which may be provided in the background information, have            
a statement that the doctor signs.  This statement says the doctor             
agrees to sign the death certificate in the event that this home               
death occurs as expected.  Ms. Davidson noted the statute said that            
if the nurse in this situation pronounces death she will sign the              
death certificate, yet the form sent to the medical examiner's                 
office says that the physician signs the death certificate.  Ms.               
Davidson indicated they decided to change the language in the                  
statute to make it consistent with the form.                                   
Number 2427                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG questioned whether the nurse, in the (a) section,            
still had the right to sign the death certificate in those                     
MS. DAVIDSON asked if the Chairman meant in other circumstances.               
REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA stated, "'In the following circumstances,' is            
the way I read it."                                                            
Number 2441                                                                    
MS. DAVIDSON stated that the physician would sign the death                    
certificate under the expected home death circumstance.  In answer             
to Chairman Rokeberg's question, she said it appears they would be             
taking away the nurse's right to sign the death certificate.  She              
stated, "We certainly didn't mean to take anything away that they              
didn't want, it was more to make the requirement consistent with               
the way the procedure is now."                                                 
Number 2458                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG stated, "In many areas, particularly rural areas,            
they wouldn't be able to ..."                                                  
MS. DAVIDSON responded, "As it now stands, the doctor has to sign              
a form authorizing ..." [TESTIMONY INTERRUPTED BY TAPE CHANGE]                 
TAPE 98-18, SIDE B                                                             
Number 0001                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG stated, "... So Representative Davis, I - I have             
some time here real quickly, if you want to take some testimony."              
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS answered in the affirmative, suggesting                   
perhaps a time limit so the witnesses could condense any testimony.            
Number 0018                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG apologized to the teleconferenced witnesses,                 
indicating the committee had not been notified they were waiting to            
testify.  Due to the next scheduled bill, he requested the                     
witnesses limit their testimony to less than a minute, noting they             
would not be cut-off.  He indicated written testimony could be sent            
to the committee from the Kenai Legislative Information Office                 
Number 0036                                                                    
CYNTHIA ELLIOT, Staff Registered Nurse; First Choice Home Health               
Care, Incorporated, testified via teleconference from Kenai in                 
support of HB 383.  Ms. Elliot read from her prepared statement:               
     I am a home health nurse.  I have over five years                         
     experience as a hospice nurse working with people who are                 
     dying at home and being cared for by their family                         
     members.  I also have experienced the deaths of three of                  
     my own family members at home in three different states.                  
     Nowhere have I encountered the kind of situation we have                  
     here in Alaska at an expected home death.  It is unusual                  
     that law makers and law enforcers in this state feel                      
     compelled to involve police in naturally occurring,                       
     expected home deaths.  Having police present in the home                  
     at the time of death is unnecessary and traumatic to                      
     family members.                                                           
     Death is a normal life transition.  It is not a crime if                  
     it occurs naturally.  Dying at home of natural causes is                  
     not police business, nor is it suspicious or unusual.                     
     Here in Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula, it has become a                    
     crime to die at home.  ... Police are called to what they                 
     refer to as the "scene" and conduct a death                               
     investigation.  They collect evidence by asking                           
     questions, confiscating medications and taking                            
     photographs of the deceased ... at the home.                              
     Death is a sacred life event, a once-in-a-lifetime                        
     experience for the family.  This precious time should not                 
     be intruded upon by officers of the law, or anyone who is                 
     not directly involved with assisting the family to take                   
     care of the deceased and facilitate the grieving process.                 
     To ask a family member who has just witnessed the passage                 
     of their beloved to answer questions and stand by while                   
     photographs of the deceased are taken by a uniformed                      
     officer with a gun and handcuffs on his or her belt is                    
     intimidating and upsetting, and only complicates the                      
     grief process.                                                            
     Change the law here in Alaska to allow families to care                   
     for their loved ones at home without having to report a                   
     natural occurrence to the police.  Legalize expected home                 
Number 0113                                                                    
TOM WILKINSON, Staff Nurse, Central Peninsula General Hospital                 
(CPGH), testified next via teleconference from Kenai in support of             
HB 383.  Mr. Wilkinson stated he was a certified critical care                 
nurse at CPGH.  He thanked Representative Davis for sponsoring this            
bill.  He related he has unique experience in that he does                     
pronounce people [dead] at the hospital; he said they notify the               
medical examiner and there is no investigation by the Alaska State             
Troopers.  However, he related he attended the death of a personal             
friend at home the previous week who was 87 years old with end-                
stage leukemia.  Mr. Wilkinson said the Alaska State Troopers and              
EMS (emergency medical service) did have to show up.  He said he               
had pronounced his friend and was with the family.  Mr. Wilkinson              
stated the responding trooper was very sensitive; the trooper                  
basically entered the room and viewed the deceased from a distance             
without pulling back the covers.  Mr. Wilkinson stated, "So if                 
that's an investigation,  I - I find it hard to believe that                   
anything could have been found out by that,"  Mr. Wilkinson said it            
was more of an observation and anything more would have been an                
intrusion and inappropriate.  The EMS knew Mr. Wilkinson, and said             
they didn't need to see the body because of his presence.  He said             
the EMS took some information and left, noting they were also very             
sensitive.  Mr. Wilkinson said he personally thinks it would be                
very difficult to prove murder in the case of his friend, stating,             
"End-stage leukemia -- short of a knife sticking out of his chest              
or - or a bullet wound, it would have been to prove anything or                
question it.  I think that ... the people most qualified to                    
pronounce death are also those who are licensed to note life or the            
existence of life, and I think that registered nurses are trained              
to note the absence of life -- so I think that they're probably the            
best.  They also have a rapport with the family, whether it be a               
hospice nurse, home health nurse, or a nurse in a facility.  We -              
we develop a close relationship with the families, and the families            
bring us into that inner circle, and then bringing somebody in                 
shortly thereafter is fairly intrusive.  So I - I'd like to see                
this changed and allowed to move forward."                                     
Number 0218                                                                    
DEBRA SHUEY testified next via teleconference from Kenai in support            
of HB 383.  She stated her 14-year-old son had died 3 1/2 weeks                
previously.  He had been battling cancer for two years, and she                
said they were very fortunate they were able to be back home in                
Alaska because they had traveled all across the United States for              
her son's medical care.  She said he had wanted to be around his               
friends and at home.  Ms. Shuey said the police really were                    
invasive when they responded.  She stated, "They asked for all of              
his prescriptions, and I was standing there, 'You want two years of            
his prescriptions?'  You know, 'What kind of medication do you want            
of his, his latest or whatever?'  And they took several pictures of            
him, and I just felt it was really unnecessary.  Everybody in this             
community knew my son, was medically involved, in the emergency                
room once or twice a week.  We had the home health nurse there, and            
it seems to me like if they thought that that there was any problem            
with his death, that they would have been able to call that.  We               
had the ... Comfort One form there, we thought everything was all              
prepared, and we tried to make it -- Jared (ph) died very                      
peacefully and with dignity and he accepted his death, and I think             
it's very important to that, but I also think it is important to               
have the family members that are left afterwards.  And in this                 
particular situation, we had been through a tremendous ordeal in               
two years, trying to do all that we could, ask all the questions               
imaginable, and when this trooper showed it was like, 'Well, did I             
do everything?  Should of I done more?  What did I do wrong here?'             
And I don't think I needed to ask those questions an hour after my             
son died.  And I fail now -- when I look back at that, I like to               
think about him dying peacefully, laying in his bed, and that he's             
at rest now, but what also comes in, is the trooper standing there             
taking pictures, asking me for his drugs, and I didn't need that at            
that point.  Everybody knew how ill Jared (ph) was and everybody               
accepted it, and it was very difficult for me to go through that,              
and it's a memory I do not like."                                              
Number 0315                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if there were any questions for Ms. Shuey,             
and stated their hearts went out to her.                                       
Number 0321                                                                    
LIZ SCHUBERT, Executive Director, Hospice of the Central Peninsula,            
testified next via teleconference from Kenai in support of HB 383.             
She stated she has been the hospice's executive director since                 
1991.  Ms. Schubert stated, following her prepared statement,                  
"Traditionally hospice care has focused on terminally ill patients             
and their loved ones.  ... We focus on the fact that care and                  
comfort measures will neither hasten nor postpone a death.  That               
pain control, pain management, be it physical, emotional, spiritual            
or psychosocial, will be treated aggressively.  That clients and               
families can choose where they would like to die and who will be               
present at the time of their death.  That the client's physician               
consents to hospice care and agrees to sign the client's death                 
certificate, which allows them to remain at home, a choice that                
most of us would prefer, should we be allowed to choose this.                  
Also, ... families feel that by completing, signing, filling out               
in-home expected death Comfort One forms, enrolling in Comfort One,            
being enrolled with either a home health care or hospice program,              
having the needed support from hospice ... that they'll need to                
experience an in-home death with dignity with the least amount of              
trauma to their already bereaved family does not include a police              
officer arriving at the scene, photographs and an EMS that needs to            
be called to pronounce the death, when a registered nurse is                   
already able to do that - is already in the home."                             
Number 0381                                                                    
MS. SCHUBERT said she would like to address a comment Dr. Propst               
made about people who are terminally ill, people who are expected              
to die, being the easiest persons to murder.  She stated, from her             
experience with hospice care and hospice involvement with families,            
that these families are very prepared for the death of their loved             
ones, that the families would do nothing to hasten their loved                 
one's death.  She said the dying person does not want to burden his            
or her family any further by knowing that pictures will have to be             
taken of his or her body and that the person's family members will             
be interrogated by a police officer.  Ms. Schubert stated she was              
in support of all sections of HB 383.                                          
Number 0420                                                                    
CHIEF SHIRLEY WARNER, Soldotna Police Department, testified next               
via teleconference from Kenai.  She stated she would be brief                  
because Dr. Propst and Deputy Commissioner Smith already addressed             
some of her concerns.  Chief Warner stated she is concerned with               
the "no duty to notify peace officer" portion of HB 383.  Chief                
Warner indicated the reason HB 383 has so much support concerns                
her.  She informed the committee that Ms. Shuey had left the LIO.              
Chief Warner stated she felt very badly for Ms. Shuey's experience,            
but said, "The one thing that she will never see, and - and I'm not            
saying that would happen, but if there was ever an allegation in               
the community that there was some foul play, the officers are there            
... to reassure and confirm that there is not."  She thinks that               
does happen with these cases, and she is concerned about the                   
safeguards, and Chief Warner wondered if that was perhaps in the               
content of the forms that would be developed.  She said, "But if               
there is abuse, who calls?  Who calls if there's a question on foul            
play?  The home care person?  ... I don't think so."  Besides the              
previously expressed concern about observation of the area, and                
noting what drugs were available, Chief Warner commented about                 
providing protection for a person's property.  She indicated she               
was had not been in Soldotna long enough, but said when she was in             
Anchorage it seemed like she dealt quite a bit with the property of            
deceased people, and she commented she wasn't sure who stepped in              
in that respect when the police did not.                                       
Number 0509                                                                    
DAVID CORAY testified next via teleconference from Kenai.  He said             
his brother had passed away in December of pancreatic cancer,                  
noting his recent experience with the issue at hand.  Mr. Coray                
stated that all forms relating to the expected death were filled               
out, and, at the time the death occurred, the paramedics, according            
to current procedure, did make a cursory appearance to determine               
that death had occurred, followed by a city policeman who made the             
same determination, and who then asked detailed questions of all               
those present.  Mr. Coray said, "And while these particular police             
officers were tactful and sensitive, my position is that this                  
doesn't always run across the board, and that there might be a                 
variance in the particular police individuals involved in terms of             
how they approach these delicate family matters, so I'm in favor of            
freeing up the police from having to make these home visit and                 
vesting these powers with the home health care agencies that are               
professionally trained to actually determine ... when death has                
occurred and to look for any evidence of foul play.  ... I stated              
earlier, they are with the families during this transition and have            
a history of dealing with the transition process ... with the                  
survivors.  ... The presence of police is often viewed as a                    
domestic disturbance, which potentially creates a social problem               
for the survivors in terms of dealing with - with neighbors and                
that sort of thing; it just ... seems invasive.   It seems like                
we're re-inventing the wheel here by having so many agencies                   
involved, and that a streamlining effect could take place by having            
just one agency determine that death did occur, and it would lend              
itself to a ... more stable transition for the survivors, and with             
that, I'd like to voice my support for HB 383."                                
Number 0586                                                                    
LORI BROWN, Administrator; First Choice Home Health Care,                      
Incorporated, testified next via teleconference from Kenai in                  
support of HB 383.  She stated she understood Dr. Propst's and the             
police departments' concerns.  However, she said she has seen                  
several instances where it has really interfered with the families.            
She noted although the police try to be comforting, et cetera, she             
said she personally would feel it very invasive if her loved one               
died and a stranger came into her home.  Ms. Brown stated she                  
supported HB 383 and understood the concern.  If any changes were              
to be made, she suggested the addition of something like the                   
wording "unless there is suspect of abuse" to Section 12.65.007, no            
duty to notify peace officer in an expected home death.  Otherwise,            
she would like to support the bill as it currently reads.  Ms.                 
Brown stated they have highly-trained, state-licensed nurses, and              
the "Kevorkian" reference really bothered her, noting Dr. Propst               
had mentioned it, and it had been mentioned to her by one of the               
local police officers.  She said, "I'm sorry, we are highly                    
regulated, the nurses have worked very hard to receive their                   
licenses and I don't think that they would step out on any ... type            
of a limb to lose their licenses.  And as a home health care                   
agency, I don't think any of you have any idea the regulations that            
we have to go through, both state and federal."                                
Number 0653                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked if the impact of HB 383 on social                 
security or insurance claims had been explored.  He stated that if             
Representative Davis did not know, Representative Cowdery would                
like to have that information before he voted on the bill.                     
Number 0668                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS replied he did not have any information.                  
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG added, "Social security pays $250 ..."                       
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY replied he knew that, but said a certain                
criteria was also required.                                                    
Number 0678                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA made a motion to move HB 383 out of committee            
with individual recommendations and the zero fiscal note.                      
Number 0690                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG objected to comment that he was a little                     
concerned about some of the language, particularly in the second               
section.  He noted perhaps he wasn't reading it right.  The                    
Chairman indicated he hoped Representative Davis would work with               
the DPS to clean this up before it came to the House Judiciary                 
Standing Committee.                                                            
Number 0705                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS indicated the make-up of the House Judiciary              
Standing Committee would ensure the bill would not pass if the DPS             
objected highly to it.                                                         
Number 0730                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG withdrew his objection.  He noted again to the               
teleconference witnesses from the Kenai LIO that the committee had             
not been aware of them until just after 4:00 p.m., apologizing for             
"trying to rush them along," noting that was not his intent.                   
Number 0742                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG stated they needed to add the term of art "with              
the committee's zero fiscal note attached" to HB 383, asking if the            
committee was all in order on the motion.  Hearing no objections,              
Chairman Rokeberg stated HB 383 was so moved.                                  
Number 0796                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG called a brief at-ease at 4:26 p.m.  The                     
committee reconvened at 4:28 p.m.                                              
HB 400 - DEPT OF COMMUNITY & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT                              
Number 0800                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee's next item of business              
was HB 400, "An Act combining parts of the Department of Commerce              
and Economic Development and parts of the Department of Community              
and Regional Affairs by transferring some of their duties to a new             
Department of Commerce and Rural Development; transferring some of             
the duties of the Department of Commerce and Economic Development              
and the Department of Community and Regional Affairs to other                  
existing agencies; eliminating the Department of Commerce and                  
Economic Development and the Department of Community and Regional              
Affairs; relating to the Department of Commerce and Rural                      
Development; adjusting the membership of certain multi-member                  
bodies to reflect the transfer of duties among departments and the             
elimination of departments; and providing for an effective date."              
Chairman Rokeberg indicated the committee was continuing with                  
testimony from the February 23 hearing.                                        
Number 0815                                                                    
JEFF BUSH, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Commerce and Economic            
Development (DCED), came forward to testify.  He indicated much of             
his testimony would be a summation of several weeks of testimony on            
HB 409, a similar piece of legislation which went through lengthy              
hearings approximately two years previously.                                   
Number 0853                                                                    
MR. BUSH stated it is the DCED's and the Administration's position             
that the fundamental missions of the DCED and the Department of                
Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA) are not similar.  He said                
DCED focuses on economic development for the private sector.  DCRA             
focuses on local and municipal development, on government projects             
and programs.  Mr. Bush noted there was not a lot of similarity                
between international trade and statewide tourism promotion, and               
local sewer and water projects.  He said, as he had stated in his              
testimony two years ago, he has looked closely at allegations of               
duplication of services between DCRA and DCED and has not been able            
to find any, noting he would welcome the opportunity to address                
anyone else's perceived duplications at any time.  Mr. Bush stated             
at the present time DCED is an effective advocate for economic                 
development in this state because DCED has economic development as             
its sole focus.  He stated it is important to retain that focus,               
commenting that HB 400 would dilute that.                                      
Number 0907                                                                    
MR. BUSH indicated his principle concern with HB 400 is that it is             
a massive reorganization of government functions and agencies with             
very little benefit.  He stated, "We should be talking instead                 
about restructuring and eliminating programs, and not simply moving            
people around."  He indicated simply moving people around is                   
counterproductive because it only creates short-term expenses, high            
employee anxiety and morale problems, and wasted administrative                
time and effort.  Mr. Bush said they would welcome a reasonable                
discussion on the merits of programs or particular agencies in his             
department, and he is sure the same can be said for DCRA, but they             
see no particular value in this piece of legislation because it                
doesn't deal with the crucial issues of what programs are valuable             
and how valuable they are.  Mr. Bush quoted Representative Mackie              
regarding HB 409 in 1996, "Why take the action if it will not                  
eliminate services or save money?"  Mr. Bush noted Commissioner                
Irwin of the DCRA had used the "if it isn't broken, why fix it?"               
analogy in the previous hearing on HB 400, and Mr. Bush said he                
thinks that is true of the programs of both DCRA and DCED, noting              
it is certainly true for the programs in his department.  He said              
the programs are working efficiently and effectively and if there              
is a perception of a problem relating to a particular program in               
DCED, again, he said he would welcome any kind of discussion                   
regarding that particular program with this body or any other body             
in the legislature.  Mr. Bush noted that the performance-based                 
budgeting process this body was undertaking, and which the DCED                
supports, is designed to do just that, to elicit and better define             
agency and program missions, goals and objectives; and to set up               
ways for the administration and the legislature to assess success              
or failure of those programs.  He said the process then leaves it              
to the agencies to implement the defined objectives, and this                  
particular bill, in its micro-management and organization focus,               
flies directly in the face of that performance-based budgeting                 
Number 1018                                                                    
MR. BUSH said he thought HB 400 was poorly thought out in some                 
ways, and didn't take the lengthy testimony heard two years ago on             
HB 409 into consideration.  In 1996 they heard extensive testimony             
that day care assistance and the Head Start Program needed to be in            
the same department for coordination purposes, noting sponsor may              
be correcting this, but as the current version of HB 400 is                    
written, those particular programs end up in different departments.            
He stated testimony was heard in 1996 stating that the child care              
facility revolving loan program should remain with other state loan            
programs. He noted a good deal of energy and effort has gone into              
combining state loan programs under one division, the Division of              
Investments in DCED, for administrative savings and purposes.  Mr.             
Bush said to split that particular loan program and put in the                 
Department of Health and Social Services (H&SS) did not make sense,            
as they had testified two years ago, noting no one had disagreed               
with them.  Mr. Bush commented that if it were done, he thought he             
could safely say the result would be an interagency agreement                  
moving the program back because that is what is currently being                
done with several other loan programs in the state.  Mr. Bush noted            
the DCED currently operates several loan programs for other                    
departments.  Mr. Bush stated another principal concern with HB 400            
the discussion of the so-called finance division.  Mr. Bush                    
indicated he thinks there is a misconception by the bill sponsor if            
he thinks placing independent agencies like the Alaska Industrial              
Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), Alaska Science and                   
Technology Foundation (ASTF), the Aerospace Development Corporation            
(AADC), and the Tourism Marketing Council (ATMC) into a division               
will suddenly bring those agencies under the management and control            
of that division director.  He stated those particular entities are            
run by boards of directors that are independent of state control               
and government.  Mr. Bush noted they are not currently under the               
control of the Commissioner of the DCED.  He indicated                         
representatives of the DCED sit as members on those boards and have            
an influence, but other people appointed from the public and                   
private sectors also sit on those boards.  Mr. Bush said those                 
boards run as independent agencies; it has been the will of the                
legislature for a long time that that's the way these agencies                 
operate.  Those agencies are truly independent, and without a                  
change to their management structure or an elimination of their                
current management structure, they will never really fall into a               
division under the control of the division director.  Mr. Bush                 
stated that if they want to make those agencies particular programs            
under a division, the legislature is certainly free to do that, but            
HB 400 bill does not currently do so.                                          
Number 1169                                                                    
MR. BUSH indicated there may be another misconception about HB 400.            
He noted the sponsor said HB 400 would create only four divisions.             
Mr. Bush stated several other divisions currently exist in state               
statute and HB 400, as drafted, does not eliminate those divisions.            
As examples he gave the Division of Insurance; Division of Banking,            
Securities and Corporations; and Division of Tourism.  He indicated            
several other divisions in state government exist even though they             
are not in statute; Mr. Bush said nothing in HB 400 would prohibit             
divisions from continuing to exist.  He commented he could probably            
safely say, for example, that the Division of Occupational                     
Licensing would probably remain as separate division under any                 
management structure because it does not really fit under the same             
division as other divisions in the DCED.  He indicated occupational            
licensing would not be run as a separate program in a division                 
which also included international trade because it is not a program            
in the same sense that international trade is.  Mr. Bush stated                
committee members in 1996 recognized many of the problems this bill            
has, and he wanted to point out some comments made in 1996 by                  
committee members from the House Standing Committee on Community               
and Regional Affairs.  Mr. Bush said Representative Austerman noted            
the concept of a "one-stop shop" for rural communities at DCRA was             
very valuable.  Representative Austerman also noted that the Head              
Start Program and child care were interrelated and should remain               
together.  Representative Nicholia stated it was important for                 
child care to remain with an economic or rural development                     
department, not H&SS, and Mr. Bush noted she said so, based upon               
testimony the committee heard at the time, because she did not want            
child care to be viewed as a welfare program.  Mr. Bush noted                  
Representative Kott had stated he hoped the particular piece of                
legislation at that time would not be viewed as a rural versus                 
urban issue, but that in fact it is.  Representative Nicholia                  
pointed out that DCRA bridged the gap between Juneau and rural                 
Alaska, and that people in rural Alaska have learned, over the                 
years, how to deal with government through DCRA.  Mr. Bush said                
consolidation and elimination would "upset the apple cart," noting             
he was using Representative Nicholia's words, and it would take                
years for the people to relearn the system.  Representative                    
Austerman had commented that a merger of DCRA and DCED would cause             
"heartburn" in rural Alaska and he hoped that the bill would not be            
seen again; Mr. Bush noted that was a quote.  Representative Kott              
stated that he was not convinced that the consolidation was in the             
people's best interest, and that the disruption to lives and                   
programs was more than intended.  Mr. Bush commented that                      
Representative Ivan had concluded the lengthy tedious hearings on              
HB 409 by stating that he and Co-Chairman Austerman, with the                  
concurrence of all majority members of the committee, believed that            
HB 409 was not in the best interest of the state.                              
Number 1338                                                                    
MR. BUSH indicated he had just received the sponsor's analysis of              
cost savings associated with HB 400.  He said he had a few comments            
about the forthcoming fiscal note so the committee had an                      
understanding of how the note was put together.  He said it was a              
massive undertaking, commenting that the fiscal note two years ago             
took a month.  He indicated DCED was able to use that fiscal note              
as a starting point, and  he stated the department hopes to have               
the fiscal note on the current version of HB 400 ready by the next             
week.  There would be a single note for all departments instead of             
the multiple notes done two years ago, because savings in one                  
department are costs in another.  Mr. Bush stated it seemed more               
beneficial for the committee to have the complete picture of what              
this proposal involved.  He said they had several assumptions:  a              
commissioner and a commissioner's secretary would be eliminated,               
and an administrative services director would be downgraded to a               
staff member.  Mr. Bush said other members of the commissioner's               
office under the proposed fiscal note would not be eliminated,                 
however.  They felt there would not be a reduction in work in the              
short run, at least, because a significant amount of work would be             
added by moving people around and dealing with the administrative              
process of a move.  Furthermore, Mr. Bush noted this proposal would            
add significant responsibilities to the remaining commissioner.                
Mr. Bush said the DCED'S commissioner currently sits on                        
approximately 25 boards, commissions and task forces, and he thinks            
ten of those exist in statute.  HB 400 alone added six more                    
commissions and boards by statute to this commissioner's                       
responsibilities.  Mr. Bush indicated the representatives of DCRA              
could inform the committee how many other entities its commissioner            
sits on that would have to be taken on by the new commissioner.  He            
said the result would be a combination of 19 current agencies and              
divisions in one department.  In DCED's view, administering a                  
department of that size would take two deputy commissioners not                
one, at least in the short run.  Mr. Bush noted the cost savings in            
the sponsor's proposal showed the elimination of the special                   
assistants existing in both departments.  Mr. Bush commented he                
couldn't even imagine how he would operate his current department              
without a special assistant, noting having a larger department with            
no special assistants struck him as unrealistic.                               
Number 1496                                                                    
MR. BUSH stated those types of things would not be included in the             
department's fiscal note.  He indicated personnel moves would be               
minimized, with one caveat:  entire programs would be kept                     
together.  He indicated they wanted to avoid a situation where, for            
example, a division in Juneau has three or four different offices              
under one division director, noting that was not realistic.  So, he            
said, everybody in one division would be co-located under the                  
proposed fiscal note.  He stated two years ago the Department of               
Administration determined that a full-time space planner on a                  
short-term basis would be necessary in both Juneau and Anchorage to            
help implement the necessary moves, noting there is no reason he               
can see why that won't happen again, and that will probably appear             
in the fiscal note.  Mr. Bush said they've talked at length about              
the problem of the move.  Two years ago it was decided that                    
temporary space would be necessary, indicating it would be to house            
dislocated personnel in order to effect the move.  He said the                 
estimate two years ago was $25,000 a year, and he is assuming that             
will also be in the fiscal note again.  Mr. Bush stated that the               
computer compatibility issues are probably the most disconcerting              
part of the proposal from an administrative standpoint, and part of            
the most difficult thing for them to do from the perspective of a              
fiscal note.  They don't really know what will happen regarding                
computer compatibility if these two departments are combined, but              
Mr. Bush assured the committee it would not be cheap.  He said the             
estimate two years ago was $250,000 just to make the computers                 
themselves compatible and money was also included for data                     
processing personnel to make the two systems work when they were               
Number 1632                                                                    
MR. BUSH stated, finally, they expect unforeseen expenses will                 
probably come before the legislature at some point, but these will             
not be included in the fiscal note.  For example, DCRA's building,             
as he understands it, is not currently ADA (Americans with                     
Disabilities Act) compatible.  "You cannot move people, you can't              
work on that building, you can't do things to that building without            
making it ADA compatible," he said, and it becomes a difficult                 
problem if the building is going to continue to be used, unless it             
is used in the set-up it currently has.                                        
Number 1670                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN asked which building Mr. Bush was referring to.            
Number 1679                                                                    
MR. BUSH clarified it was the DCRA building in Juneau just below               
the court building, across the street and down the hill from the               
Capitol.  He stated, in conclusion, they believed this proposal                
would not result in any significant reduction in the state's fiscal            
gap and would cost the state money in the short run.  He said HB
400 is in direct opposition to the testimony of all departments,               
the Governor, and the people of Alaska who spoke out and testified             
in 1996.  They also feel that the delivery of service and the                  
organization of government and the reorganization of government is             
a function that should remain with the executive branch, and they              
are somewhat concerned that they were not consulted on this                    
particular issue until very recently.  Finally, Mr. Bush said, the             
sponsor's statement says cross-department coordination is                      
difficult.  He stated, "I do not believe -- I have (indisc.) seen              
any evidence of cross - of cross department coordination between               
Commerce and Community [and] Regional Affairs."  He said he works              
very closely with DCRA on a fairly regular basis, noting Mr.                   
Cotten, Deputy Commissioner, DCRA, could confirm that.   Mr. Bush              
stated coordination has never been a problem under the Knowles                 
administration, noting he can't speak for prior times.  He                     
apologized to the committee if he sounded a bit "testy" about the              
bill, explaining he and several members of his staff spent the                 
better part of a month two years ago testifying, preparing                     
testimony, doing fiscal notes, working with the sponsor back then,             
working with the committee back then and working with several other            
legislators.  He said they attended many hearings, they prepared               
and delivered testimony on several occasions, and at the end of                
that process, the entire committee, every Republican and Democrat              
on that committee, determined that the merger was a bad idea.  Mr.             
Bush said he just simply doesn't look forward to going through that            
long and tedious process again, stating "It was, quite simply, a               
bad idea back then, it's still a bad idea and I believe that both              
you and the administration and myself have more important things               
that we should be doing than ... looking at this particular piece              
of legislation again.  So with that, I urge the committee to move              
on to some other business, and hope that this bill stays here."                
Number 1849                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY stated he took it that Mr. Bush was not for             
HB 400.  He asked Mr. Bush how long he has been in state                       
Number 1861                                                                    
MR. BUSH indicated that he had been in state government since 1982,            
with a 2 1/2 year gap in the middle of that time.                              
Number 1869                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked how long DCED has been in existence.              
MR. BUSH said it was his understanding that the Department of                  
Commerce and the Department of Economic Development had been merged            
in the mid-1970s, in approximately 1976.                                       
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG added, "(Indisc.) there's always been a                      
Department of Commerce and there always will be."                              
Number 1915                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked how many departments in government                
were there 10, 15 or 20 years ago.                                             
Number 1920                                                                    
MR. BUSH responded he has been with state government since 1982 and            
did not think there have been any new departments since then, but              
he noted a lot happened in the few years before 1982, when there               
was a lot of money.                                                            
Number 1938                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY indicated Mr. Bush had referred to morale               
problems, noting it was Representative Cowdery's understanding that            
approximately a dozen people have left DCED in about the past 18               
months.  Representative Cowdery indicated some of those people had             
conveyed to him that they left because of morale problems and asked            
Mr. Bush if that was the truth.                                                
Number 1968                                                                    
MR. BUSH responded that was probably true, and indicated that may              
be true of any department, some employees like different management            
styles.  He thinks, in a department of approximately 390 people,               
losing a dozen a year is not too bad.                                          
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY commented, "Especially in trade and                     
development ...?  You have a large overturn in that?"                          
Number 2000                                                                    
MR. BUSH replied they've had what he considers a significant                   
turnover in the Division of Trade and Development, but from a                  
morale stand point, he could only think of two people he would say             
left for morale reasons, left because they were unhappy with the               
department.  He said the others moved on to bigger jobs, noting the            
head of their trade office moved to San Francisco, California.                 
Number 2030                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY referred to Mr. Bush's previous mention of              
AIDEA, noting it was independent agency and they all understood the            
vote  Representative Cowdery asked if it really mattered which                 
department AIDEA was under, commenting that it could be under the              
Department of Administration, for example.                                     
Number 2056                                                                    
MR. BUSH said that was a reasonable debate, noting he thought AIDEA            
was only put in DCED because it does a commercial-oriented                     
business.  Mr. Bush said an even more extreme example would be the             
Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARR), because it isn't under normal               
budget processes.  He said DCED has virtually no connection with               
ARR besides the fact that it shows up in DCED's phone book.                    
Number 2081                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY commented that he did not think HB 400, as              
he read it, had any intention of doing away with the Division of               
Banking, Securities and Corporations; or the Division of Insurance,            
or any those others.  He asked Mr. Bush if he thought this would do            
away with that.                                                                
Number 2096                                                                    
MR. BUSH responded that was the way the sponsor had described it to            
him:  there would be only four divisions under his proposal, and               
all of the existing divisions would be moved into one of those                 
four, so that they would become subgroups - sections or programs               
within those divisions.                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY noted they would still exist.                           
MR. BUSH replied that they would exist as programs, not divisions.             
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY commented, "A different title (indisc.)."               
Number 2136                                                                    
MR. BUSH stated, in clarification, his only point was that there's             
apparently an inconsistency between the sponsor's statement and                
intent, in the way the bill is drafted, because they exist in                  
statute as divisions.                                                          
Number 2157                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY indicated he was asking Mr. Bush for some of            
the DCED's results in economic development over approximately the              
past 18 months.  He stated, "I know everybody claims that FedEx                
[Federal Express Corporation] moved in because of them, but I claim            
that too ...."                                                                 
Number 2196                                                                    
MR. BUSH replied he thought there were several things going on.                
For example, he referred to a power superconductor proposal down in            
Ketchikan he said the legislature is currently looking at, and he              
noted was generated by DCED through a direct contact between a                 
member of the Division of Trade and Development and the private                
sector.  Mr. Bush noted two appearances in the past two years on               
QVC [television home shopping channel by QVC, Incorporated] which              
were very successful for several merchants in Alaska.  He said                 
those appearance, which he confessed he had not seen, were                     
generated from contacts made by his department directly to or with             
the television companies.  Mr. Bush said he was caught a bit off               
guard here because he does not do the trade and development side.              
He noted Commissioner-designee Sedwick would be in front of the                
committee next week, indicating she would provide many more                    
examples, addressing "where we've been and where we're going."                 
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY excused himself for the House Special                   
Committee on International Trade and Tourism hearing on HB 432.                
TAPE 98-19, SIDE A                                                             
Number 0001                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN stated the testimony had been very interesting             
[FROM TAPE LOG NOTES].  He continued, "... (Indisc.) perhaps                   
instead of putting departments together -- I know there's a                    
duplication if you move two departments together, you have                     
duplication of administration; you don't need two administrations              
so there's a definite savings there."  Representative Ryan stated              
the number of boards and commissions the new commissioner would be             
required to sit on could be reduced by amendment.  Representative              
Ryan said they do have a huge department in state government which             
seems to "bumble and struggle along," commenting that he was                   
speaking of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities             
(DOT/PF), stating, "I mean they're, they're outrageous, but they               
manage to - to get along."  Representative Ryan said some of the               
things Mr. Bush described seemed to be poor management choices on              
the part of a lot of administrations.  Representative Ryan said Mr.            
Bush mentioned computer compatibility.  Representative Ryan noted              
he has seen that coming through over and over again in budgets,                
using the description, "Why we all can't play from the same sheet              
of music?"  He referred to the point Mr. Bush mentioned about                  
coordinating with the governor.  Representative Ryan stated he                 
remembered from his reading of the state constitution that all                 
power comes from the people and it's invested in their                         
representatives, the legislature, and there is a governor and there            
is a court.  He noted only a supreme court is mentioned in the                 
state constitution and the legislature may establish other courts              
from time to time as it sees fit. He said, as far departments'                 
administration, it's up to the legislature to decide what they give            
the governor to operate.  Representative Ryan said then,                       
necessarily, if the legislature chooses to do away with and/or                 
consolidate, et cetera, he thinks that would be within the                     
legislature's constitutional purview, and he stated, "It might be              
nice to contact the governor from time to time and say, 'What do               
you think?' if you have a governor who's willing to talk to you.               
I haven't found that forthcoming from the third floor.  It seems to            
be a confrontational attitude of, 'This is what I want, and I'm not            
about to discuss it with you,' so under those circumstances we [the            
legislature] take the initiative."  Representative Ryan noted Mr.              
Bush mentioned some key points that, with perhaps a little change              
in language might make this bill work a little smoother, commenting            
that was his "two cents."                                                      
Number 0213                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG stated for the information of all present he                 
would be adjourning this meeting no later than 5:15 p.m. because of            
other commitments and other hearings.  Chairman Rokeberg invited               
Mr. Bush back to future hearings on HB 400, noting the bill would              
be taken up Friday, February 27.                                               
Number 0244                                                                    
MR. BUSH noted he would not be able to attend on Friday, but would             
available the following week.                                                  
Number 0274                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted the presence of Lamar Cotten, Deputy                   
Commissioner, DCRA and Dwight Perkins, Special Assistant,                      
Department of Labor (DOL), asking them to limit their comments to              
7 1/2 minutes.                                                                 
Number 0274                                                                    
LAMAR COTTEN, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Community and                 
Regional Affairs, came forward to testify.  He stated Commissioner             
Irwin of DCRA had testified at the previous hearing, but Mr. Cotten            
noted he wanted to briefly comment on a couple of points brought up            
by the sponsor in his presentation.  Before beginning, Mr. Cotten              
said he wanted to reiterate Mr. Bush's comment; that is, DCRA also,            
unequivocally, does not support HB 400.  Mr. Cotten stated it is               
not the type of bill DCRA would like to see go forward, however,               
they would not suggest they have a monopoly on all of the good                 
ideas on how to run government.  He said DCRA is certainly open to             
ideas, but the department is not sure that this approach is the                
right approach, both for government and more importantly, the                  
clients that DCRA serves.  Mr. Cotten stated the issue of                      
government efficiency was addressed as a problem in the February 23            
hearing.  Mr. Cotten noted efficiency was in question because of               
allegation of duplication of services by the two departments, and              
the bill sponsor had laid out a series of points where overlapping             
missions and activities had occurred.  Mr. Cotten indicated he                 
would like to briefly go through those points to show the                      
difference between the perception of the sponsor and the reality of            
what actually happens in the two departments.  He stated the first             
point addressed by the sponsor is rural economic development and               
rural small business development.  Mr. Cotten noted he is not aware            
of very much DCED does in that area because DCED  deals directly               
with private industry.  He noted DCRA does not deal primarily with             
the private sector, DCRA deals with the small community governments            
and nonprofits, and what they consider "communitive" development -             
helping small communities build the infrastructure that will                   
hopefully someday eventually attract the private capital.                      
Number 0416                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked why was it called "rural economic                      
development" if that was the case, noting that had confused him for            
a number of years.                                                             
Number 0429                                                                    
MR. COTTEN said he wasn't sure if he had ever called it that, and              
DCRA prefers to use "community development."  He said, "I guess the            
distinction I'm trying to make ... is that community development is            
really working those basic -- whether it's energy to build a                   
generator, whether it's to assist somebody with a grant to - to                
build a road or help build waterfront projects ..."                            
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG interjected, "Aren't most of your grant monies               
from the Department of Agriculture for rural economic development?"            
Number 0460                                                                    
MR. COTTEN responded that they were not, noting in the past they               
had primarily been from the federal government for Housing and                 
Urban Development (HUD).  He indicated that then until last year               
funding had come through rural development assistance which was                
primarily general fund, and, for one year, through AIDEA.                      
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked, "So there's no more 'ag' money from the               
feds then?"                                                                    
Number 0481                                                                    
MR. COTTEN replied there was a small grant program of about                    
$100,000 or $150,000, stating, "That has always been a very small              
portion of the -- our rural ..."                                               
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted that was for "rural council" or whatever               
they called it.                                                                
Number 0493                                                                    
MR. COTTEN replied actually, it came through their department and              
has been used for planning grants.  He said it has rarely been used            
for economic development other than the planning feasibility stage.            
Mr. Cotten continued, noting an overlap on fisheries had been                  
brought up.  He said he was assuming the reference was to the                  
Community Development Quota Program (CDQ).  Mr. Cotten said it is              
a program which is being coordinated between the Alaska Department             
of Fish and Game (ADF&G), DCED and DCRA.  It is a program involving            
fishing groups in rural Alaska working and becoming partners with              
the private sector.  Mr. Cotten stated, "In our minds it's a good              
example of how there's not overlap, but the expertise and the                  
backgrounds of staff in those three departments are a good example             
of how they coordinate to work with those groups.  So, it is not as            
if we have duplicate services in the three departments that work               
with CDQ, but we meet as a team.  And I thinks it's not only with              
CDQ, but you'll see with many programs that the state works with is            
that, rightfully so, no agency has a monopoly, if you will, on what            
succinct (ph) or particular services that a project or an economic             
activity really needs.  So I think there's a real clear distinction            
between coordination and overlap.  Rural tourism ..."                          
Number 0576                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG referred back to the CDQ program, noting three               
different departments were involved.  He asked, "Do we get any kind            
of a share from the funds that are provided by the private sector              
to the state of Alaska for administration of (indisc.) program?"               
Number 0585                                                                    
MR. COTTEN responded, "The state contributes the money to do the               
oversight, directly.  There is, however, ..."                                  
Number 0593                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG interjected, "Wait a minute, so the money's being            
generated by the private sector to the rural communities that                  
qualified under federal statutes for this, and we administer it but            
we don't get any money for it.  We have to pay for it ourselves, is            
that right?"                                                                   
Number 0606                                                                    
MR. COTTEN replied, "I was going to say 'however.'  However, there             
was a change in federal law through the Magnuson-Stevens ... Act               
[Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act] that, in            
fact, did tax the fishing industry, and part of that money is to be            
conveyed ... back to the state of Alaska to administer this                    
program, and that tax is on the fishing industry itself that has               
benefitted from this program."                                                 
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG commented, "That's good, because if we have to               
have three sacks of bureaucrats to do one program, then we need all            
the money we can get from the feds.  Go on, I don't want to                    
interrupt you anymore."                                                        
Number 0635                                                                    
MR. COTTEN laughed and noted he was not sure he agreed with that               
conclusion.  He continued with his comment on rural tourism, noting            
DCRA was not involved in rural tourism.  He said on a rare occasion            
a community might qualify for a planning grant, but there is a                 
Division of Tourism in DCED; DCRA does not involve itself in                   
tourism.  Mr. Cotten noted infrastructure scoping, planning and                
funding had been brought up and he indicated he assumed this                   
related back to comments made by Mr. Krieber, Legislative                      
Administrative Assistant to Representative Kohring, at the February            
23 hearing about a scoping process for the communities of Southeast            
Alaska affected by the timber industry-related mill closures.  Mr.             
Cotten said that is, again, a coordination of different agencies               
and "hopefully everybody's at the table."  Mr. Cotten noted that,              
for a small community like Wrangell or Ketchikan, all the services             
these communities would receive were not going to come out of one              
agency.  They might need some help from the Department of Health               
and Social Services (H&SS), help from DOT/PF to speed up a project             
to get work in a community, help from DCED because of tourism.  Mr.            
Cotten noted he thinks it's a good example of coordination, but                
that there is no overlap there.  Addressing another point of                   
perceived overlap, Mr. Cotten referred to energy development -                 
electrical utility assistance.  He noted the energy authority was              
disbanded in 1993 and the portion of that agency which dealt with              
bulk fuel, small generators, and alternative energy went to DCRA's             
Division of Energy.  He said the note for the "four dam pool" went             
to AIDEA which has bonding authority, and he indicated that is                 
AIDEA's only energy-related activity.  Mr. Cotten commented that               
AIDEA has not made any loans to anybody since 1993 on energy; so,              
he said, when it comes to energy, particularly in rural Alaska,                
DCRA is really the only agency dealing with that issue.                        
Number 0733                                                                    
MR. COTTEN noted Representative Kohring had mentioned rural                    
sanitation projects and funding.  Mr. Cotten stated DCRA deals,                
again, as part of a package with small communities, assisting their            
staff with utility operation and maintenance and he's not aware of             
any capacity in which DCED has to deal with that topic.  Mr. Cotten            
addressed assistance to economically distressed regions, stating               
that, again, this is what they called "community response                      
partnership," indicating it is a multi-agency coordination process             
coming into a community.  He noted many times DCRA has been the                
"point" agency so that the needs of the community can be funneled              
through "one voice."  Mr. Cotten stated he wanted to make one or               
two extra comments.  He referred to a DCED report mentioned by the             
sponsor completed in 1994, he thought, which looked at                         
"overlapping" of the two agencies.  Mr. Cotten stated that report              
had been done by the last administration, by the commissioner, who             
had hired one of his former employees to look at the issue.  Mr.               
Cotten said he meant no disrespect to the former commissioner or               
the report's author, but Mr. Cotten said he thought the report was             
really a reflection of the problems those two departments had then             
"(indisc.) having to sign memorandums of understanding as to who               
was doing what."  He stated that was an issue and a problem from               
the past administration and did not exist anymore.  Mr. Cotten said            
it was not an issue in front of DCRA as a department, or as a                  
department dealing with DCED.                                                  
Number 0819                                                                    
MR. COTTEN noted, as a final point, "The sponsor spoke about a one-            
stop process for communities to come in and work, and he used the              
example of - of having AIDEA, if I remember right, and ASTF and PCE            
under one division."  Mr. Cotten said, from his experience as a                
former city and borough manager, and therefore as a client of a                
process like that, it simply did not make any sense.  He said,                 
"PCE, municipal systems and revenue sharing, are - are straight                
grants.  [For] Municipal systems and revenue sharing, we have one              
person in our department do all that.  It isn't something you come             
in and negotiate with.  PCE is a formula-based process.  It is not             
something you come in to negotiate like you would on a loan or a               
grant.  AIDEA, by the way, rarely ever loans money to communities.             
They are primarily a lender of - of funds to the private sector.               
So, I think even though on the surface putting titles together                 
under one division looks good, but I can tell you, as an ex-client             
of this department, and - and Commerce's department to a very minor            
extent, it doesn't work that work that way.  So, in summary, we                
don't claim to have monopoly on all the good ideas ... but I can               
say, having worked in local government for over the last 20 years,             
along with some state service, that I thinks there's a compelling              
argument to keep a department that focuses primarily on dealing                
with communities, whether they be large ones or small ones.  And               
that, to me, is a succinct, different mission than Commerce that               
really does deal with economic development, and directly, as a                 
client, the private sector."                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE RYAN noted he had to leave as he was late for                   
another meeting.                                                               
Number 0930                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked Mr. Cotten if he could condense some of his            
comments into the form of a written outline, noting the portion of             
his testimony when he was comparing a couple of different functions            
as it related to the sponsor's statement.  Chairman Rokeberg said              
that might be helpful for the committee.                                       
MR. COTTEN answered in the affirmative.                                        
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted the time was 5:10 p.m.  He asked Dwight                
Perkins, DOL, if he could delay his statement until the next                   
hearing which was scheduled for Friday, February 27.                           
Number 0958                                                                    
DWIGHT PERKINS, Special Assistant, Department of Labor, stated it              
was up to the Chairman, commenting that his statement was less than            
five minutes.                                                                  
Number 0963                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG said he preferred to wait until the next hearing.            
Chairman Rokeberg asked the bill sponsor if he wished to comment,              
noting Representative Kohring had been present at all times during             
the testimony.                                                                 
Number 0984                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING came forward to testify, indicating he was              
there with his staff member, Mr. Krieber.  Representative Kohring              
stated he was frankly not surprised to hear the previous testimony,            
particularly of Mr. Bush.  He commented he thought Mr. Bush was                
worried about losing his job, using the analogy of a rabbit backed             
into a corner.  Representative Kohring noted that they were                    
speaking about streamlining the bureaucracy of state government,               
not eliminating programs.  He circulated a hand-out to the                     
committee members which gave an outline of what they were trying to            
accomplish with HB 400.  He reiterated that they were trying to                
streamline the structure of the organization by creating four                  
different divisions, setting the programs up under a new management            
structure without eliminating any.  The former DCRA would become a             
rural affairs division, the former DCED would become a statewide               
development division, and they would take, as mentioned previously,            
all the financial-related entities and programs out there,                     
consolidating them under one financial resources division, and the             
fourth division would be the division of administration.                       
Representative Kohring stated he would like to provide more details            
at the subsequent hearing, but he said they do still maintain that             
both entities are economic development-related, and he referred to             
the second page on the handout, indicating the overlapping                     
functions occurring in both DCED and DCRA.  He said, "You can see              
there's about nine or ten of them there."  On the third page, he               
said, they show what the cost savings would be, noting this                    
reflects the elimination of the DCRA commissioner's office.  Again,            
as he mentioned at the February 23 hearing, the identities of the              
new commissioner and other upper management personnel in this new              
entity would be at the discretion of the governor's office.                    
Representative Kohring stated the committee could see that the                 
bottom-line savings would be $1, 054,000, if one of the two                    
commissioners' offices was eliminated.  He said that had been a                
"nut-shell" recap of his presentation at the previous hearing,                 
noting he would certainly like to have, and looked forward to, the             
opportunity to refute some of the claims made earlier in this                  
hearing.  In closing, he stated this was a good faith effort to                
achieve not just simply greater efficiency in government, but also             
to try and retain economic development-related programs by spending            
less money.  He indicated if they were going to continue with their            
five-year budget plan to reduce spending, one course of action                 
would be this "merger bill" which would save $1 million a year                 
while protecting programs, or they could stay with the existing                
structure and simply start "lopping off programs."  Representative             
Kohring said they are essentially faced with a choice in that                  
regard.  He thinks they owe it to themselves, and the people in                
Alaska who want to see them enhance the economy with programs of               
this nature, to look at streamlining the bureaucracy so they can               
protect some of these programs.                                                
Number 1170                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if Representative Kohring and his staff had            
reviewed the minutes on HB 409 mentioned in this meeting's                     
REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING responded Mr. Krieber had reviewed those,               
but he personally had not.                                                     
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG suggested that Mr. Krieber could possibly                    
highlight some of the statements referred to for Representative                
Kohring because the committee would be also be reviewing some of               
those minutes.  Chairman Rokeberg stated the committee had received            
a letter from the Alaska Municipal League in opposition to HB 400,             
and a copy would be provided to the sponsor.  He noted the letter              
points out the concern that there is a constitutional mandate for              
a local (indisc.) agency in Article X, Section 14, and the sponsor             
might want to be prepared to respond to that [Article X, Section 14            
of the Constitution of the State of Alaska reads:  "Local                      
government agency.  An agency shall be established by law in the               
executive branch of the state government to advise and assist local            
governments.  It shall review their activities, collect and publish            
local government information, and perform other duties prescribed              
by law."].  Chairman Rokeberg indicated HB 400 would be held over,             
stating the committee would take HB 400 up on February 27 at                   
approximately 4:00 p.m. after the hearing on HB 458.  The Chairman             
noted the committee would be hearing Mr. Perkins's testimony; he               
believed Jim Nordlund, H&SS, would be testifying, and DCED and DCRA            
staff were invited to provide further testimony and/or be available            
for questions.                                                                 
Number 1249                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG adjourned the House Labor and Commerce Standing              
Committee meeting at 5:15 p.m.                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects