Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/12/1993 02:23 PM Senate HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                         April 12, 1993                                        
                           2:23 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Steve Rieger, Chairman                                                
 Senator Bert Sharp, Vice-Chairman                                             
 Senator Loren Leman                                                           
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 SENATE BILL NO. 145                                                           
 "An Act establishing the position of state medical examiner;                  
 and relating to preparation of death certificates."                           
 SENATE BILL NO. 180                                                           
 "An Act relating to reimbursement of school construction debt;                
 and providing for an effective date."                                         
 SENATE BILL NO. 181                                                           
 "An Act relating to grants for school construction; and                       
 providing for an effective date."                                             
 SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 30                                                
 Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of                      
 Alaska creating a school construction and maintenance fund.                   
 SENATE BILL NO. 59                                                            
 "An Act relating to school construction grants and major                      
 maintenance grants to school districts; providing for school                  
 district participation in the cost of school construction and                 
 major maintenance; creating a major maintenance grant fund;                   
 and providing for an effective date."                                         
 SENATE BILL NO. 60                                                            
 "An Act making appropriations for construction and major                      
 maintenance of schools; and providing for an effective date."                 
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SB 145 - See State Affairs minutes dated 4/5/93 and                           
 SB 180 - No previous action to record.                                        
 SB 181 - No previous action to record.                                        
 SJR 30 - No previous action to record.                                        
 SB  59 - See HESS minutes dated 2/3/93, 2/10/93.                              
 SB  60 - See HESS minutes dated 2/3/93, 2/10/93.                              
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Dr. Peter Nakamura, Director                                                  
 Division of Public Health                                                     
 Department of Health & Social Services                                        
 P.O. Box 110610                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-0610                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of SB 145                         
 Bob Poe, Staff to Senator Drue Pearce                                         
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on SB 180, SB 181                  
                      and SJR 30                                               
 Duane Guiley, Director                                                        
 School Finance                                                                
 Department of Education                                                       
 801 W. 10th St., Suite 200                                                    
 Juneau, AK 99801-1894                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on SB 180, SB 181,                 
                      SB 59 and SB 60                                          
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 93-34, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN RIEGER  called the Senate Health, Education and Social              
 Services (HESS) Committee to order at 2:23 p.m. and introduced                
  SB 145  (POSITION OF STATE MEDICAL EXAMINER) as the first order              
 of business.                                                                  
 DR. PETER NAKAMURA, Director, Division of Public Health,                      
 Department of Health and Social Services, explained that SB
 145 would allow the state to establish a medical examiner                     
 Currently, the state assumes the costs of post mortem                         
 examinations for deaths that are unattended.  Approximately                   
 53 percent of the funds go towards paying for the post mortem                 
 physician cost, 33 percent of the expenses go towards the                     
 mortuary service cost, and approximately 14 percent goes                      
 towards travel.  For the past several years the program has                   
 been underfunded, and the department has had to request                       
 supplemental funding up to an amount of $350,000 to pick up                   
 these services when the funding was short and the demand was                  
 Dr. Nakamura said that by establishing a medical examiner                     
 system in the state, the department hopes to contain their                    
 costs in the future.  The medical examiner will be able to                    
 perform from 125 to 150 autopsies by himself, however, they                   
 will continue to buy additional autopsy services from the                     
 existing pathologists in the state.                                           
 Dr. Nakamura also said the department believes it can                         
 eliminate a fair number of examinations that they are now                     
 doing by having someone who is employed by the state                          
 overseeing the program.  Currently, the Department of Health                  
 and Social Services just pays the bills and has no ability                    
 to control the costs, and it is hoped to have the medical                     
 examiner system located in their department.                                  
 Number 075                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER stated SB 145 would be held until later in the                
 meeting when a quorum was established.                                        
 Number 078                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced  SB 180  (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION DEBT                 
 30  (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION & MAINTENANCE FUND) as the next order                
 of business.                                                                  
 BOB POE, staff to Senator Drue Pearce, Co-chair of the Senate                 
 Finance Committee, said the three pieces of legislation                       
 comprise a complete package of an approach to deal with the                   
 problems of school construction, school repair and school                     
 maintenance in the state.                                                     
 SB 180 reestablishes reimbursement of school construction debt                
 and provides for an effective date.  It accomplishes some key                 
 things in terms of reimbursement of debt that have not been                   
 seen in the past.  It changes the portion that the state would                
 pay of any debt to 70 percent.  Also, it establishes a debt                   
 limit for how much debt a community could incur.  Further, it                 
 places a sunset on the bill of March 31, 1997.                                
 SB 181 relates to grants for school construction, and there                   
 are some key changes to the way school construction projects                  
 are identified right now.  It sets a grant review committee,                  
 and the committee is designed to make sure that people                        
 knowledgeable about construction and facility management are                  
 involved in reviewing school construction projects to assure                  
 that they are a cost-effective reasonable solution to the                     
 problem that the school project is trying to address.  It also                
 advises the committee that they shall evaluate each grant                     
 request based on five factors.  The bill further provides that                
 there shall be four basic types of school designs to assure                   
 that the school infrastructure that is built through state                    
 dollars around the state is uniform in its quality, that it                   
 guarantees an equivalent kind of facility for any student in                  
 the state.                                                                    
 Number 198                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN directed attention to a letter he received from                 
 an Anchorage engineer suggesting an amendment to Section 4,                   
 which relates to the four basic school designs, that he                       
 believes goes directly to the point of the intent of the                      
 legislation, but is less onerous than the existing wording.                   
 Number 212                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER referred to page 3, line 2 of SB 181, which                   
 speaks to the factors that the grant review committee must                    
 evaluate.  He said the last time a list like that was put in                  
 statute it was interpreted to mean that all of number one                     
 would have to be satisfied before they commenced with number                  
 two.  He said he does not think that was the sponsor's intent,                
 and suggested that it should be reworded.  BOB POE agreed that                
 was not the sponsor's intent.                                                 
 Number 230                                                                    
 DUANE GUILEY, Department of Education, stated that the                        
 department has reviewed the two bills and has worked together                 
 with the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities in                  
 developing the fiscal note and analyzing the legislation.  The                
 department has some concerns about the bills in that some                     
 specific portions are not clear to them as to what the intent                 
 Mr. Guiley said in establishing the cap in SB 180 on how much                 
 debt a community can incur, the department reads the cap as                   
 to apply to other nonreimbursed debt.  He referred to language                
 on page 4, line 5, which sets the limit based upon population                 
 size, and he pointed out that some of the smallest communities                
 in the state are, in fact, the wealthiest communities in the                  
 state in relation to ability to pay, and they have the lowest                 
 limit of debt in this language.                                               
 In Section 3 of SB 180, which requires the department to                      
 evaluate the projects, the department has some concern as to                  
 whether or not that evaluation would be concurrent with the                   
 existing process evaluation, or if this would establish a                     
 separate evaluation.                                                          
 Turning to SB 181 and the establishing of a grant review                      
 committee, Mr. Guiley said the department has concern as to                   
 whether or not they can find members of this background in the                
 state that do not, in fact, have a conflict of interest in                    
 that they are not participating contractors for school                        
 districts that would be scheduled to be applying for projects,                
 as well as whether or not the individuals would serve on the                  
 committee at no compensation.  Addressing the prototypical                    
 type of school design required in the legislation, the                        
 department looked at grant projects that have been recently                   
 awarded by the state and the architectural fees associated                    
 with those projects, as well as the need for schools of                       
 varying sizes at all three levels, and they arrived at a                      
 fiscal note in excess of $30 million.                                         
 Number 267                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER questioned the architectural fees if what is                  
 being called for in the bill is generic projects rather than                  
 custom projects.  DUANE GUILEY answered that it is the                        
 department's understanding that these would be more or less                   
 generic projects within the different regions of the state,                   
 but also, within those different regions, there would be                      
 facilities of varying sizes.  SENATOR LEMAN commented that                    
 there are some things that can't be done generically and they                 
 have to be unique for where that building is located.  He said                
 there is going to be a certain amount of design that is going                 
 to have to be custom for any specific site.                                   
 Number 297                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER brought  SB 59  (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION &                        
 GRANT FUND) before the committee.  He directed attention to                   
 a draft CSSB 59(HES) which makes two major changes.  The first                
 change limits the maximum matching grant that could be                        
 required for a district to 30 percent.  For REAA's the maximum                
 match is 3.8 percent.  The second change is that it suspends                  
 these grant provisions for appropriations made in calendar                    
 year 1993.                                                                    
 Addressing SB 60, CHAIRMAN RIEGER said the bill, as introduced                
 by the Governor, had $150 million appropriated from the                       
 earnings reserve account.  He said it was his intention to                    
 create a work draft which does not appropriate that amount                    
 from the earnings reserve account, but appropriates it from                   
 the general fund and leaves the source of funding question up                 
 to the Senate Finance Committee.  Also, allocate that $150                    
 million to each area of the state at the rate of $7.5 million                 
 per Senate district, totaling $150 million.                                   
 SENATOR ELLIS asked if there had been any discussions with the                
 Governor on these suggested changes, and he raised concern of                 
 a possible veto by the Governor whereby school projects would                 
 go by the wayside.  CHAIRMAN RIEGER responded that he wants                   
 to have all of the possible modes of getting school                           
 construction funded up to the Finance Committee as soon as                    
 possible so they can make the final decision.  As he perceives                
 it, there are two basic approaches:  one is a debt                            
 reimbursement and the other is a straight grant approach.  He                 
 doesn't think it is really within the purview of the HESS                     
 Committee to decide which way to finance the schools, but                     
 rather a Finance Committee decision.                                          
 Number 404                                                                    
 DUANE GUILEY, Department of Education, said in discussing the                 
 capital legislation with the commissioner, the state board and                
 representatives from the Governor's office, one of the primary                
 goals of all parties concerned was establishing a local match                 
 for projects, so it is something that is important to all                     
 parties concerned in relation to this bill.  Also, the                        
 Governor's office has expressed a desire to have a multi-                     
 year plan.                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER stated SB 59 and SB 60 would be held over                     
 until the following day at which time they would be back                      
 before the committee along with SB 180, SB 181 and SJR 30.                    
 Number 425                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER brought SB 145 back before the committee and                  
 asked for the pleasure of the committee.                                      
 SENATOR MILLER moved that SB 145, along with the accompanying                 
 fiscal notes, be passed out of committee with individual                      
 recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                    
 SENATOR LEMAN commented that he wasn't convinced that this                    
 approach would save any costs and that it will probably add                   
 another two people to the state payroll when the existing                     
 contracting system in place right now works fairly well.                      
 There being no further business to come before the committee,                 
 the meeting was adjourned at 2:57 p.m.                                        

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