Legislature(2021 - 2022)SENATE FINANCE 532

05/02/2022 09:00 AM Senate FINANCE

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09:04:54 AM Start
09:05:25 AM HB291
10:10:04 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                 SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                        May 2, 2022                                                                                             
                         9:04 a.m.                                                                                              
9:04:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Bishop called the  Senate Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 9:04 a.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Click Bishop, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Bert Stedman, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
Senator David Wilson                                                                                                            
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Natasha von Imhof                                                                                                       
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Representative  Geran Tarr,  Sponsor; David  Song, Staff  to                                                                    
Representative  Tarr;  Kris   Curtis,  Legislative  Auditor,                                                                    
Alaska   Division  of   Legislative   Audit;  Diane   Casto,                                                                    
Executive Director, Council on  Domestic Violence and Sexual                                                                    
Assault, Department of Public Safety.                                                                                           
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Vikki  Jo  Kennedy,  Self,  Juneau;  Jayne  Andreen,  Alaska                                                                    
Public Health Association,  Douglas; Brenda Stanfill, Alaska                                                                    
Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Fairbanks.                                                                     
CSHB 291(STA)                                                                                                                   
          EXTENDING COUNCIL ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE                                                                                
          CSHB 291(STA) was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                     
          further consideration.                                                                                                
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 291(STA)                                                                                                
     "An Act  relating to the  Council on  Domestic Violence                                                                    
     and Sexual  Assault; extending the termination  date of                                                                    
     the Council  on Domestic  Violence and  Sexual Assault;                                                                    
     and providing for an effective date."                                                                                      
9:05:25 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Bishop relayed that it  was the first hearing of HB
291.  It  was  the  committee's intention  to  hear  a  bill                                                                    
introduction, hear  a sectional  analysis, take  invited and                                                                    
public testimony, and set the bill aside.                                                                                       
9:05:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GERAN TARR, SPONSOR,  was appreciative of the                                                                    
opportunity  to  present  HB   291  to  the  committee.  She                                                                    
reminded  that there  were sunset  audits that  reviewed the                                                                    
work of  different councils. There  had been a  sunset audit                                                                    
for  the Council  on Domestic  Violence  and Sexual  Assault                                                                    
(CDVSA),  and  absent  the  legislation  the  council  would                                                                    
sunset in  June. She thought  the legislative  auditor could                                                                    
give a fuller  report to the committee, and  she was present                                                                    
to do  so. She explained  that the audit concluded  that the                                                                    
council   was  working   in  the   publics   interest,   and                                                                    
importantly also  concluded that  the council was  not doing                                                                    
duplicative work. There had  been three recommendations, and                                                                    
the council director was present to speak on the matter.                                                                        
Representative  Tarr continued  to address  the CDVSA  audit                                                                    
and explained that she  considered the recommendations minor                                                                    
in terms of  audit findings. She listed  working on document                                                                    
retention,   improvement  of   the  Battering   Intervention                                                                    
Program  database,  and  timeliness  of  the  annual  report                                                                    
submission and  regulation changes. She noted  that a couple                                                                    
of  the   recommendations  were  related  to   Covid-19  and                                                                    
commented  on the  difficulty of  keeping staff  and filling                                                                    
vacant   positions  during   the  pandemic.   She  discussed                                                                    
improving the  functionality of  the database.  She detailed                                                                    
that  the audit  recommendation  was to  extend the  council                                                                    
until June 20, 2028, which was included in the legislation.                                                                     
Representative  Tarr continued  her  bill introduction.  She                                                                    
discussed recommendations for  council membership. She noted                                                                    
that currently there  was a designated seat  for someone for                                                                    
rural  Alaska, but  not a  designation  for a  seat from  an                                                                    
Alaska  Native organization.  She thought  the inclusion  of                                                                    
rural  representation  helped   with  understanding  service                                                                    
delivery in  places off the  road system. She  asserted that                                                                    
the addition of a member  from an Alaska Native organization                                                                    
would ensure the inclusion of  an important voice that would                                                                    
reflect  the understanding  and interest  in addressing  the                                                                    
disproportionality of  domestic violence and  sexual assault                                                                    
in  Alaska Native  communities. She  detailed that  the bill                                                                    
more  specifically defined  a role  for recommendations  for                                                                    
members from the Alaska Native Womens Resource Center.                                                                          
9:09:17 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Tarr  continued  to address  the  bill.  She                                                                    
noted  that the  bill proposed  to add  the chief  executive                                                                    
officer  of   the  Alaska  Mental  Health   Trust  Authority                                                                    
(AMHTA)(or the  designee), which would add  important voices                                                                    
and depth  of knowledge.  She referenced  an email  from the                                                                    
Chief  Executive  Officer of  AMHTA,  dated  March 11,  2022                                                                    
which indicated the trust supported  being added as a member                                                                    
of the council (copy on file).                                                                                                  
Senator Hoffman asked about attendance  records of the board                                                                    
members for the previous two years.                                                                                             
Representative Tarr agreed to provide the information.                                                                          
Co-Chair  Bishop asked  Representative  Tarr  to direct  the                                                                    
information to his office.                                                                                                      
Representative Tarr agreed.                                                                                                     
9:11:25 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  SONG,  STAFF  TO REPRESENTATIVE  TARR,  discussed  an                                                                    
Explanation of Changes document (copy on file):                                                                                 
     CS for HB 291 Ver: 32-LS1425\G                                                                                             
     Following feedback from our partners, we have included                                                                     
     several changes to HB 291:                                                                                                 
     ?  Section  1:  This  section amends  AS  18.66.020  to                                                                    
     expand  the   public  membership  of  the   Council  on                                                                    
     Domestic  Violence   and  Sexual  Assault   (CDVSA)  to                                                                    
     include   a  representative   from  an   Alaska  Native                                                                    
     Organization.   This  section   also  allows   for  the                                                                    
     governor  to  consult   specifically  with  the  Alaska                                                                    
     Native Women's  Resource Center during  the appointment                                                                    
     process.  The  Alaska  Native Women's  Resource  Center                                                                    
     (AKNWRC) and  the Alaska  Network on  Domestic Violence                                                                    
     and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA) also  will submit a list of                                                                    
     recommended appointees to the governor.                                                                                    
          o This  section also creates a  new subsection (7)                                                                    
          under  AS  18.66.020(a)  to  include  another  new                                                                    
          member to the CDVSA, the  CEO of the Alaska Mental                                                                    
          Health Trust  Authority (or their  designee). This                                                                    
          ensures  that  there  is  a  balance  between  the                                                                    
          governmental and public members of this council.                                                                      
     ?  Section 2:  This section  amends AS  18.66.020(d) in                                                                    
     order   to  add   a  definition   for  "Alaska   Native                                                                    
     organization," which  is based  on federal  statute (43                                                                    
     USC  1601 et  seq  and  25 USC  5304).  There are  also                                                                    
     numbering   changes   to    reflect   the   newly-added                                                                    
     ? Section  3: This  section extends  the length  of the                                                                    
     CDVSA to June 30, 2028.                                                                                                    
     ? Section  4: This section  states that this  Act takes                                                                    
     effect immediately.                                                                                                        
9:13:46 AM                                                                                                                    
KRIS  CURTIS,   LEGISLATIVE  AUDITOR,  ALASKA   DIVISION  OF                                                                    
LEGISLATIVE AUDIT, referenced the  document  A Sunset Review                                                                    
of  the Department  of Public  Safety,  Council on  Domestic                                                                    
Violence  and Sexual  Assault (CDVSA)   dated July  30, 2021                                                                    
(copy on file).  She highlighted that overall,  it was found                                                                    
that the council  was operating in the  publics  interest by                                                                    
funding and  monitoring Alaska domestic violence  and sexual                                                                    
assault programs and prevention  activities. She shared that                                                                    
the council had served as  a central coordinator for related                                                                    
services  throughout   the  state,  conducted   meetings  in                                                                    
accordance with  council by-laws,  and effectively  met most                                                                    
of its statutory  duties. The audit also  concluded that the                                                                    
council  should improve  document retention,  should improve                                                                    
access to  the Batterers Intervention Program  database, and                                                                    
should  improve   the  timeliness   of  its   annual  report                                                                    
submission and  regulatory changes. The audit  recommended a                                                                    
six-year extension.                                                                                                             
Ms. Curtis  highlighted page  9 of  the audit,  which showed                                                                    
the  schedule  of  expenditures and  funding  sources.  Also                                                                    
included on page  25 was Appendix B, which was  a listing of                                                                    
grant payments for  the audit period FY  18 through February                                                                    
2021. The listing  of grant payments was  organized by grant                                                                    
program and  listed all the grantees  and amounts, including                                                                    
the location.  The audit  made four  recommendations, listed                                                                    
on page 14 and summarized on the first page of the audit:                                                                       
     1. The executive director  should allocate resources to                                                                    
     ensure  the annual  report is  submitted in  accordance                                                                    
     with council by laws.                                                                                                      
     2. The  executive director  should improve  training to                                                                    
     help   ensure   document   retention   procedures   are                                                                    
     3.  The   executive  director  should  work   with  the                                                                    
     Department of Law to expedite regulatory updates.                                                                          
     4. The executive director should  continue to work with                                                                    
     the  Department  of Public  Safety  and  the Office  of                                                                    
     Information  Technology   to  improve  access   to  the                                                                    
     Battering Intervention Program database.                                                                                   
Ms.  Curtis detailed  that at  the  time of  the audit,  the                                                                    
annual report was approximately  five months late. She noted                                                                    
that the  audit had tested 11  grant files, 3 of  which were                                                                    
missing documentation.  She noted  that at  the time  of the                                                                    
audit, the CDVSA  regulations had not been  updated since FY                                                                    
06.  There were  two  regulatory projects  in progress.  She                                                                    
discussed the  delay of regulatory  changes due to  a change                                                                    
in   administration  and   the  coronavirus   epidemic.  She                                                                    
discussed  requirements  for  the  database  in  the  fourth                                                                    
recommendation, which included a  full background check that                                                                    
made  the addition  of new  users time-consuming.  She noted                                                                    
that the  managements  response to  the audit began  on page                                                                    
29  and   the  commissioner   and  CDVSA  agreed   with  the                                                                    
recommendations and supported a six-year extension.                                                                             
9:17:18 AM                                                                                                                    
DIANE  CASTO,   EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR,  COUNCIL   ON  DOMESTIC                                                                    
VIOLENCE AND  SEXUAL ASSAULT,  DEPARTMENT OF  PUBLIC SAFETY,                                                                    
introduced herself and noted that  the previous day had been                                                                    
the  five-year  anniversary  of   her  role  at  CDVSA.  She                                                                    
expressed  appreciation of  the audit  and considered  it an                                                                    
opportunity for improvement and  change. She summarized that                                                                    
over the  five years  she had  been at  the council,  it had                                                                    
made significant  changes in order  to be in  alignment with                                                                    
the  federal  government  and the  process  of  handing  out                                                                    
money. She mentioned an extensive  review in 2017, which had                                                                    
resulted in a number of recommendations.                                                                                        
Ms. Casto addressed the  recommendation related to retention                                                                    
of materials.  She asserted  that the  council was  doing an                                                                    
excellent job at retaining materials.  She noted that during                                                                    
the time of  the audit, the council had been  in the process                                                                    
of transitioning  from paper to  electronic records  and had                                                                    
been changing  processes. She asserted that  the council was                                                                    
fully  compliant with  paperwork retention  and had  changed                                                                    
almost  completely to  an electronic  process. In  addition,                                                                    
the council had changed its  grant management system and had                                                                    
contracted with a new Microsoft  system that was cloud-based                                                                    
and  allowed  grantees  to submit  information  online.  She                                                                    
estimated  that  council had  completed  90  percent of  the                                                                    
training  necessary to  transition  to the  new system.  She                                                                    
remarked  on how  the new  system would  increase efficiency                                                                    
and effectiveness in grant management.                                                                                          
9:20:52 AM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  Casto  addressed  the  third  recommendation  regarding                                                                    
expedition of regulatory updates.  She acknowledged that the                                                                    
aforementioned  regulatory delays  had indeed  happened. She                                                                    
noted that the council had  been appointed a specific person                                                                    
to work  within the Department  of Law and were  waiting for                                                                    
the go-ahead.                                                                                                                   
Ms. Casto addressed the  fourth recommendation pertaining to                                                                    
the  Batterers Intervention  Program database.  She detailed                                                                    
that the  matter had  been a  significant concern  since she                                                                    
had  arrived. She  thought  the council  had  lapsed in  its                                                                    
ability to manage  and monitor programs due  to budget cuts.                                                                    
The  council  had  ten approved  programs  and  six  current                                                                    
programs. She emphasized the  importance of data collection.                                                                    
She had reached out to  the Office of Information Technology                                                                    
(OIT) and the  council was making great  progress. She noted                                                                    
that council  was in  the middle of  doing an  assessment of                                                                    
needs  for the  database  and would  be  transitioning to  a                                                                    
cloud-based  program for  easier  access  to upload  grantee                                                                    
data. She reminded  of the high turnover  rate at non-profit                                                                    
organizations. She  relayed that  the council  was confident                                                                    
that there would be a new system in place within FY 23.                                                                         
9:24:01 AM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Casto noted  that the council was  undergoing changes to                                                                    
its programming  to make sure  it was more data  informed. A                                                                    
work  group  had  started  the  previous  April,  which  was                                                                    
reviewing  national  data  and making  recommendations.  She                                                                    
mentioned evidence-based programming  with new opportunities                                                                    
for people  to apply  to programs. She  hoped to  offer more                                                                    
programs throughout  the state  and mentioned  interest from                                                                    
rural areas.                                                                                                                    
Ms. Casto  addressed the first recommendation  pertaining to                                                                    
the  council's  annual  report. She  acknowledged  that  the                                                                    
council  was behind  on the  report, and  detailed that  the                                                                    
2020 report had been due during  the pandemic at a time when                                                                    
maintaining  programming was  stressful. She  used the  term                                                                    
"regulatory discretion"  to describe delaying  a requirement                                                                    
when  other duties  were prioritized  out of  necessity. She                                                                    
discussed  staff  shortages  and  the  lack  of  a  research                                                                    
analyst   and  administrative   officer,   who  would   have                                                                    
contributed  information towards  the  report. She  affirmed                                                                    
that currently,  a combined 2020-2021  annual report  was in                                                                    
the  final   draft  and  would  hopefully   publish  in  the                                                                    
following  week.  She  acknowledged the  importance  of  the                                                                    
annual  report  and  emphasized the  councils   transparency                                                                    
with information that was posted on the internet.                                                                               
9:28:24 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Hoffman thought  it  was  quite disappointing  that                                                                    
Alaska Natives had  such high rates of  domestic violence as                                                                    
referenced by Representative  Tarr. He referenced additional                                                                    
programming mentioned by Ms. Casto  and asked if there was a                                                                    
bigger  plan to  move  the state  forward  in improving  the                                                                    
rates of  domestic violence and  sexual assault. He  did not                                                                    
think there  had been much  change to the  domestic violence                                                                    
and sexual  assault statistics in  the decades since  he had                                                                    
been in the  legislature. He emphasized the  severity of the                                                                    
problem. He did  not see a plan for  substantial changes. He                                                                    
thought the  council was  asking for  a long  extension, and                                                                    
the  legislature would  not get  additional analysis  on the                                                                    
subject.  He  thought  the board  needed  to  take  stronger                                                                    
action  and have  a  better  plan to  move  forward. He  was                                                                    
concerned about  reports and  board extensions  taking place                                                                    
with no change to the problem.                                                                                                  
9:31:35 AM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Casto agreed with Senator  Hoffman's comments and called                                                                    
domestic  violence in  Alaska  "an  insidious problem."  She                                                                    
commented  that it  was very  difficult to  make significant                                                                    
progress.  She emphasized  that it  was important  to ensure                                                                    
there was  a balanced approach.  She thought the  system and                                                                    
continuum   of   current   services  was   unbalanced.   She                                                                    
highlighted that 90  percent of the council's  funds went to                                                                    
victim's   services,  which   left   only   8  percent   for                                                                    
prevention.  She  noted that  the  council  had received  $2                                                                    
million  as  a result  of  SB  91 [criminal  justice  reform                                                                    
legislation  passed in  2016],  which she  thought was  from                                                                    
marijuana  funds.   She  detailed that  the  council had  $2                                                                    
million for  prevention across the  state, with  13 programs                                                                    
but not enough  resources to hire even  one full-time staff.                                                                    
She  emphasized  that  there  needed to  be  more  focus  on                                                                    
Ms. Casto  continued to address Senator  Hoffman's comments.                                                                    
She cited that only 2  percent of the councils  funding went                                                                    
toward working with abusers. She  stressed the importance of                                                                    
dealing with the  root cause of the  problem. She reiterated                                                                    
her agreement with Senator Hoffman.  She reiterated the need                                                                    
to balance  the services  that were provided.  She mentioned                                                                    
the boards   participation in a strategic  planning process,                                                                    
in  which  the  two   top  priorities  were  rebuilding  and                                                                    
strengthening of battering and prevention programs.                                                                             
9:34:32 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Hoffman asked  why the council did  not come forward                                                                    
to request more funds  for potential demonstration projects.                                                                    
He used  the example of  picking a  region of the  state and                                                                    
funding  prevention for  two to  three years.  He emphasized                                                                    
that leadership was  needed from the board and  Ms. Casto to                                                                    
start on  a solution.  He suggested working  in the  part of                                                                    
the state  with the  highest rate  of domestic  violence and                                                                    
sexual assault.                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair  Bishop wanted  to follow  up on  Senator Hoffman's                                                                    
comments.  He stated  that Ms.  Casto had  done a  great job                                                                    
with  her  invited  testimony  and  had  addressed  all  his                                                                    
questions  in her  testimony.  He  echoed Senator  Hoffman's                                                                    
remarks  and  commented  that 8  percent  of  funding  being                                                                    
directed towards  prevention would  never  bend  the curve.                                                                     
He mentioned the councils   strategic planning and suggested                                                                    
the council  identify geographical  areas of the  state with                                                                    
greater incidence  of domestic violence and  sexual assault.                                                                    
He  mentioned   seven  grants  going  towards   shelters  in                                                                    
different  parts of  the state,  and  suggested the  council                                                                    
come  back with  a plan.  He  thought a  ten to  twenty-year                                                                    
funding increment  was necessary if the  state was committed                                                                    
to bending the curve.                                                                                                           
9:37:23 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Wilson  noted that  he had  worked with  shelter and                                                                    
batterers   programs.  He   thought  the   affordability  of                                                                    
programs  was   a  challenge.  He  estimated   that  outside                                                                    
programs  were  $10,000  to  $30,000   for  only  10  to  20                                                                    
participants.  He  wondered  if   the  council  had  started                                                                    
developing  its  own   training  curriculum  for  prevention                                                                    
programs.   He  thought   outside  programs   with  emerging                                                                    
practices were expensive.                                                                                                       
Ms. Casto agreed that  canned   programs were expensive. She                                                                    
relayed that  the 13 communities  that were funded  by CDVSA                                                                    
were  funded  as  a community  coalition.  Communities  were                                                                    
asked to do  a readiness assessment and  identify needs, and                                                                    
used a  number of national programs.  She mentioned programs                                                                    
such as  Girls On the Run,  Let Boys Run, and  Coaching Boys                                                                    
Into  Men. She  noted that  the programs  were well-studied,                                                                    
and that the council  provided training. She mentioned there                                                                    
were  a number  of  prevention evaluation  documents on  the                                                                    
councils  website.  She emphasized  the long-term  nature of                                                                    
prevention efforts.                                                                                                             
Ms.  Casto  continued her  remarks  in  response to  Senator                                                                    
Wilson's question.  She had worked in  prevention since 1978                                                                    
and  had not  seen the  progress she  would have  liked. She                                                                    
emphasized  that prevention  indicated generational  change,                                                                    
and  the ongoing  efforts were  time  intensive. She  agreed                                                                    
with  everything that  had been  said, but  asserted it  was                                                                    
difficult  to find  the perfect  balance between  requesting                                                                    
too much  funding over  time and  finding the  best programs                                                                    
considering all  the differences  in the state.  She thought                                                                    
the council  had a  strong prevention  program that  was not                                                                    
well funded.                                                                                                                    
9:42:08 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Wilson  discussed  the programs  mentioned  by  Ms.                                                                    
Casto.  He  wondered  if the  council  was  doing  something                                                                    
different  and  less  expensive because  the  programs  were                                                                    
making money as a result  of the states  problem. He thought                                                                    
even  the batterers  program was  expensive. He  wondered if                                                                    
the   council  was   looking  at   creating  something   and                                                                    
considering best  practices to have a  less expensive option                                                                    
to address prevention.                                                                                                          
Ms. Casto knew  there were many expensive  programs and held                                                                    
that  the council  was  not  spending a  great  deal on  its                                                                    
current   prevention   efforts   after   getting   statewide                                                                    
licenses. She  noted that the  council only had  $2 million,                                                                    
and  approximately  $1.6  million  would be  going  to  sub-                                                                    
grantees. She thought  Senator Wilson was right  to bring up                                                                    
considering what  programs were  right for Alaska.  She said                                                                    
the council had  created some programs for  Alaska, that did                                                                    
not cost  a lot. She  cited that  the challenge of  the time                                                                    
needed to  evaluate the  success of  a program's  impact, as                                                                    
compared to  using programs that had  been previously tested                                                                    
and researched.                                                                                                                 
9:45:20 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Wilson  asked if the University  of Alaska Anchorage                                                                    
was still doing a victimization survey.                                                                                         
Ms.  Casto answered  "yes," and  noted the  council had  its                                                                    
third  Alaska Victimization  Survey  (AVS).  The survey  had                                                                    
been  done in  2010,  2015,  and 2020.  She  agreed to  send                                                                    
Senator Wilson  the link  to the  report. The  report showed                                                                    
some  increase  but  largely   an  overall  steadiness.  She                                                                    
described that AVS  was a phone survey for  women that asked                                                                    
detailed questions about occurrences  over a lifetime and in                                                                    
the  last 12  months. She  cited data  points from  the 2020                                                                    
survey that  indicated 48 percent  of those  interviewed had                                                                    
experienced  intimate  partner   violence,  41  percent  had                                                                    
experienced sexual violence, and  58 percent had experienced                                                                    
one or  both over  their lifetime.  She emphasized  that the                                                                    
numbers were unacceptable.                                                                                                      
Ms. Casto added that the  council was going to be continuing                                                                    
doing some additional data analysis  on the information that                                                                    
had   been  collected.   The  survey   had  also   collected                                                                    
information  on Adverse  Childhood  Experiences  as well  as                                                                    
whether individuals were beneficiaries  of the Alaska Mental                                                                    
Health  Trust Authority  (AMHTA).  There  was a  significant                                                                    
number of individuals that fell  into the category of AMHTA,                                                                    
which  she  cited as  a  reason  for adding  the  additional                                                                    
position to  the board. She  offered to send  the additional                                                                    
information  to the  committee.  She mentioned  a grant  the                                                                    
council   funded   through   the  UAA   Center   for   Human                                                                    
Development,  which worked  on abusive  response for  people                                                                    
with  disabilities.  She   expressed  appreciation  for  the                                                                    
support of the legislature.                                                                                                     
Senator Wielechowski  asked if domestic violence  and sexual                                                                    
assault cases in  Alaska were trending up, down,  or flat in                                                                    
the previous ten years.                                                                                                         
Ms. Casto stated that the cases were pretty much flat.                                                                          
Senator Wielechowski observed that  the fiscal note proposed                                                                    
$3 million for   Services  in FY 23 and $2.59  million in FY                                                                    
24. He asked what Services in the budget was.                                                                                   
9:49:49 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
9:50:53 AM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Casto noted that the  Services line listed on the fiscal                                                                    
note pertained to contracts the  council had. She listed the                                                                    
Disability  Abuse Response  Teams (DART)  program, contracts                                                                    
for  prevention outcome  measures  and  other services.  She                                                                    
explained that  the reason the amount  went up in FY  23 was                                                                    
that there was  $500,000 in the budget for  a family justice                                                                    
center as a pilot project.                                                                                                      
Senator  Wielechowski  asked  what  percentage  of  domestic                                                                    
violence and  sexual assault in  the state  was attributable                                                                    
to substance abuse.                                                                                                             
Ms. Casto answered, "very high."  She cited that there was a                                                                    
great deal of alcohol use  both by victims and perpetrators.                                                                    
She noted  that the victimization survey  had indicated that                                                                    
alcohol use  was not a  big issue  but based on  reports and                                                                    
cases in  facilities it  was apparent  that alcohol  use was                                                                    
very high.  She emphasized  that the consumption  of alcohol                                                                    
did  not cause  abuse,  but  rather it  made  a person  more                                                                    
impulsive and  more violent. For victims  that used alcohol,                                                                    
it  was  often  a  way  of  self-medication.  She  mentioned                                                                    
battery  intervention  programs  and   the  goal  of  better                                                                    
screening  for  substance  abuse  in order  to  provide  the                                                                    
needed treatment.                                                                                                               
9:54:28 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Wielechowski stated  that in  all the  time he  had                                                                    
been  in  the  legislature,  domestic  violence  and  sexual                                                                    
assault  had been  a top  priority yet  did not  seem to  be                                                                    
improving.  He thought  Ms. Casto  had  cited that  domestic                                                                    
violence rates were  up to 58 percent, which  he thought was                                                                    
a  four  percent  increase  from  the  previous  survey.  He                                                                    
thought the problem  seemed to be getting  worse. He thought                                                                    
the council  appeared to  be doing  more  of the  same,  and                                                                    
wondered if things should be  done differently. He asked how                                                                    
Ms. Casto would tackle the problem  if she was in charge. He                                                                    
questioned what the legislature needed to do.                                                                                   
Ms. Casto  wished she  had  a  magic answer.   She recounted                                                                    
that she had  come to Alaska in 1984,  and domestic violence                                                                    
and sexual  assault had  been a problem  since that  time as                                                                    
well  as  where  she  previously lived  in  Washington.  She                                                                    
emphasized the  difficulty of  change and  the underreported                                                                    
nature  of   domestic  violence  and  sexual   assault.  She                                                                    
explained that family dynamics were  involved and cited that                                                                    
the  current interventions  and support  were progress.  She                                                                    
acknowledged the  lack of progress  in helping  victims move                                                                    
beyond victimization to being survivors                                                                                         
Ms. Casto  pointed out that  many victims stayed  in abusive                                                                    
relationships.  She questioned  how  to  start helping  move                                                                    
individuals  into  better  lives.   She  mentioned  lack  of                                                                    
housing as a  barrier, which she considered a  huge issue in                                                                    
a victims  ability to leave  an abusive situation. She noted                                                                    
that  a  few  of  the council's  programs  had  transitional                                                                    
housing  components. She  cited  the  need for  transitional                                                                    
services  to help  victims rebuild  their  lives. She  noted                                                                    
that many  victims were economically  tied to  partners. She                                                                    
commented on  the expense of  housing. She  acknowledged the                                                                    
need for a longer-term, bigger plan to solve the problem.                                                                       
9:59:19 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Bishop  thought it was  obvious that  the committee                                                                    
had a great  interest in the topic. He asked  if the council                                                                    
had  done any  research  on the  monthly  rates of  domestic                                                                    
violence and sexual assaults.                                                                                                   
Ms.  Casto pointed  out  that there  was  national data  and                                                                    
explained that the council had  not done an analysis but had                                                                    
considered  internal data.  She noted  that there  were some                                                                    
peaks, such as in the  spring. She thought the holidays were                                                                    
considered to  a peak time  but that incidents  were perhaps                                                                    
not reported.                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair  Bishop  asked about  the  percentage  of male  and                                                                    
female incidence of being victims.                                                                                              
Ms.  Casto estimated  that 8  percent to  10 percent  of the                                                                    
councils clients were male.                                                                                                     
Senator Wilson asked  if Ms. Casto would  recommend that the                                                                    
committee work  with the Alaska Housing  Finance Corporation                                                                    
(AHFC)  to  raise the  amount  of  funds given  to  domestic                                                                    
violence housing vouchers.                                                                                                      
Ms.  Casto thought  Senator Wilson's  suggestion was  a good                                                                    
start.  She knew  that housing  vouchers had  presented some                                                                    
barriers.  She noted  that the  council also  worked closely                                                                    
with  the Alaska  Network on  Domestic  Violence and  Sexual                                                                    
Assault  (ANDVSA), who  were  the  membership programs  that                                                                    
worked with  shelters. She thought  ANDVSA had  been working                                                                    
on  the issue.  She thought  a  full analysis  needed to  be                                                                    
10:02:14 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Bishop OPENED public testimony.                                                                                        
VIKKI  JO KENNEDY,  SELF, JUNEAU  (via teleconference),  was                                                                    
concerned  that Ms.  Casto  had not  been  prepared for  the                                                                    
meeting  with  information.  She  did  not  think  much  was                                                                    
getting  done. She  spoke  in  support of  the  Boys to  Men                                                                    
Program, which  had been started by  President Barack Obama.                                                                    
She thought villages  needed to be more  responsible for the                                                                    
problem.  She questioned  why corporations  could not  start                                                                    
addressing  the  problem.  She   thought  the  AHFC  voucher                                                                    
program was a good program  but thought there was not enough                                                                    
housing that would accept the vouchers.                                                                                         
Ms.  Kennedy  mentioned  a half-way  house  in  Juneau.  She                                                                    
thought  the  problem  was  ongoing.  She  mentioned  United                                                                    
States Attorney General William  Barr, who had visited rural                                                                    
Alaska and indicated he would  work to address problems. She                                                                    
mentioned  United  States  Secretary  of  the  Interior  Deb                                                                    
Haaland. She thought  there needed to be  more action taken.                                                                    
She mentioned a missing persons case in Juneau.                                                                                 
10:05:15 AM                                                                                                                   
JAYNE  ANDREEN, ALASKA  PUBLIC  HEALTH ASSOCIATION,  DOUGLAS                                                                    
(via  teleconference),  spoke  in  favor of  the  bill.  She                                                                    
appreciated that the legislation  expanded the membership of                                                                    
the  council. She  discussed  Alaska Native  representation.                                                                    
She referenced members  questions  and informed that she had                                                                    
worked  in domestic  violence and  sexual assault  since the                                                                    
1970s in  Minnesota. She highlighted  that she had  not only                                                                    
worked in  victims  services response,  but also  had worked                                                                    
in  a health  promotion, primary  prevention, evidence-based                                                                    
way. She thought Alaska should continue to focus on trauma-                                                                     
informed care and  looking at historical/generational trauma                                                                    
effects on families. She stressed  the importance of working                                                                    
together  across disciplines.  She cited  the need  for more                                                                    
resources for  Adverse Childhood  Experiences to  make long-                                                                    
term societal changes.                                                                                                          
10:07:11 AM                                                                                                                   
BRENDA  STANFILL, ALASKA  NETWORK ON  DOMESTIC VIOLENCE  AND                                                                    
SEXUAL  ASSAULT, FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  testified                                                                    
in support of  HB 291. She asserted that the  council was an                                                                    
integral  piece of  the work  being  done in  the state  and                                                                    
making a  dent in  the numbers.  She strongly  supported the                                                                    
addition of  two members to  the council from AMHTA  and the                                                                    
Alaska Native community. She referenced  a movie called  The                                                                    
Silence,   which  had  shown   interviews  of  victims.  She                                                                    
appreciated the member's questions  and noted that she would                                                                    
provide  information to  each member.  She  agreed with  the                                                                    
need for  a strong plan  to be put  in place to  address the                                                                    
Co-Chair Bishop CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                        
CSHB 291(STA)  was HEARD and  HELD in committee  for further                                                                    
Co-Chair Bishop discussed the agenda for the afternoon.                                                                         
10:10:04 AM                                                                                                                   
The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 a.m.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 291 Summary of Changes.pdf HFIN 3/29/2022 1:30:00 PM
SFIN 5/2/2022 9:00:00 AM
HB 291
HB 291 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 2/17/2022 3:00:00 PM
SFIN 5/2/2022 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 5/17/2022 1:00:00 PM
HB 291
HB 291 Letter of Support.pdf HFIN 3/29/2022 1:30:00 PM
SFIN 5/2/2022 9:00:00 AM
HB 291
HB 291 Supporting Document - Leg Audit Sunset Review.pdf HFIN 3/29/2022 1:30:00 PM
SFIN 5/2/2022 9:00:00 AM
HB 291
HB 291 LOS 4.22.pdf SFIN 5/2/2022 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 5/17/2022 1:00:00 PM
HB 291