Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/16/1993 04:15 PM Senate HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                         April 16, 1993                                        
                           4:15 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Steve Rieger, Chairman                                                
 Senator Loren Leman                                                           
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Bert Sharp, Vice-Chairman                                             
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 SENATE BILL NO. 92                                                            
 "An Act relating to an advisory vote during regional                          
 educational attendance area school board elections; and                       
 providing for an effective date."                                             
 HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 30                                                 
 Relating to epidemiological and quarantine services in ports                  
 of entry in the state.                                                        
 HOUSE BILL NO. 148                                                            
 "An Act exempting the University of Alaska from the                           
 administrative adjudication provisions of the Administrative                  
 Procedure Act; and providing for an effective date."                          
 SENATE BILL NO. 143                                                           
 "An Act reducing the rate of interest on certain student                      
 loans; and providing for an effective date."                                  
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 217(JUD)                                                
 "An Act relating to Native corporation dividends and other                    
 distributions due to minors in the custody of a state."                       
 HOUSE BILL NO. 97                                                             
 "An Act clarifying the responsibilities of the Department of                  
 Health and Social Services and parents for children who are                   
 committed to the custody of the department and are placed by                  
 the department with the parents; and providing for an                         
 effective date."                                                              
 HOUSE BILL NO. 178                                                            
 "An Act adding children under the age of 21 who are eligible                  
 for adoption assistance because of special needs to the                       
 optional Medicaid coverage list and revising the order of                     
 priority in which groups eligible for optional Medicaid                       
 coverage are eliminated; and providing for an effective date."                
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SB  92 - See Community & Regional Affairs minutes dated                       
 HJR 30 - See HESS minutes dated 4/14/93.                                      
 HB 148 - No previous action to record.                                        
 SB 143 - No previous action to record.                                        
 HB 217 - No previous action to record.                                        
 HB  97 - No previous action to record.                                        
 HB 178 - No previous action to record.                                        
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Senator Fred Zharoff                                                          
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Prime Sponsor of SB 92                                 
 Brain Saylor, Deputy Commissioner                                             
 Department of Health & Social Services                                        
 Nowlin Watson, Senior Vice President                                          
 McClellen & Copenhagen                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Presentation on AK public health                       
 Dwayne Peeples                                                                
 Division of Public Health                                                     
 Department of Health & Social Services                                        
 P.O. Box 110610                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-0610                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of HJR 30                         
 Representative Gene Therriault                                                
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Prime Sponsor of HB 148                                
 Susan Warner                                                                  
 P.O. Box 21241                                                                
 Juneau, AK 99802                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed to passage of HB 148                           
 Joanna Loying-Belyea                                                          
 5775 Thane Road                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed to passage of HB 148                           
 Wendy Redman, Vice President                                                  
  for University Relations                                                     
 University of Alaska                                                          
 910 Yukon Drive                                                               
 Fairbanks, AK 99775-2388                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 148                                        
 Carol Carrol, Staff to Senator Jay Kerttula                                   
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on SB 143                          
 Mary Lou Madden, Assistant Director                                           
 Postsecondary Commission                                                      
 Department of Education                                                       
 P.O. Box 110505                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-0505                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Neutral on SB 143                                      
 Rena Buckovich, Staff to Representative                                       
  Eileen MacLean                                                               
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on HB 217                          
 Elmer Lindstrom, Special Assistant                                            
 Department of Health & Social Services                                        
 P.O. Box 110601                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-0601                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of HB 97                          
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 93-37, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN RIEGER  called the Senate Health, Education and Social              
 Services (HESS) Committee to order at 4:15 p.m., and                          
 introduced  SB 92  (REAA ADVISORY VOTES) as the first order of                
 SENATOR FRED ZHAROFF, prime sponsor of SB 92, explained that                  
 the legislation allows a provision to be added to AS                          
 14.08.071, which relates to REAA schools.  At this time, there                
 is no provision that allows an advisory vote for any issue                    
 that may come up before the school district on the ballot for                 
 election of school board members.  SB 92 will provide an                      
 authorization in statute to allow the Division of Elections                   
 to place the question on the ballot before the election of                    
 school board members.                                                         
 Number 037                                                                    
 There being no further testimony on SB 92, CHAIRMAN RIEGER                    
 asked for the pleasure of the committee.                                      
 SENATOR MILLER moved that SB 92 be passed out of committee                    
 with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was                
 so ordered.                                                                   
 Number 042                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER announced the next order of business would be                 
 a presentation on public health laboratories.                                 
 BRIAN SAYLOR, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Health and                   
 Social Services, said the health and safety of the state's                    
 public health laboratories have been of some question for a                   
 number of years.  The issue has been repeatedly studied by                    
 outside experts, but they have not been able to pull together                 
 a comprehensive look at the public health laboratories.                       
 There are three laboratories in leased facilities that are                    
 located in Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage.  The department                   
 is currently seeking options to protect public health, worker                 
 safety and the quality of the products they deliver.                          
 Number 075                                                                    
 NOWLIN WATSON, Senior Vice President of McClellen &                           
 Copenhagen, a laboratory design consulting firm, used charts                  
 and explained the functions of a public health laboratory and                 
 the process of bringing fresh air into the laboratory and then                
 exhausting it outside.  This is necessary to ensure worker                    
 safety because the people working in these laboratories are                   
 dealing with airborne pathogens that can make them sick.  He                  
 pointed out that the public is also protected because the air                 
 is cleaned before it is exhausted out of the laboratory.                      
 Mr. Watson said their study concluded that the biggest                        
 problems in the State of Alaska are that the three state                      
 laboratories are in leased space and the public safety risk.                  
 Thus, they are recommending:  (1) a detailed analysis which                   
 will lead to a strategic plan for the public health                           
 laboratories in the State of Alaska; and (2)  new laboratories                
 because the current leased spaces cannot be effectively and                   
 cost effectively renovated.                                                   
 Number 183                                                                    
 BRIAN SAYLOR related that the department has renovation and                   
 repair money in their FY 94 capital request, as well as a                     
 request for $500,000 for the study.  However, they now believe                
 that $350,000 to $400,000 is a better number and they would                   
 hope to use the balance of the $500,000 for the renovation or                 
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER thanked Mr. Saylor and Mr. Watson for their                   
 presentation on the state's public health laboratories.                       
 Number 222                                                                    
 The next order of business to come before the committee, was                  
  HJR 30  (QUARANTINE SERVICES AT PORTS OF ENTRY).                             
 DWAYNE PEEPLES, Division of Public Health, Department of                      
 Health and Social Services, stated the division and the                       
 department support HJR 30, which urges the federal government                 
 to reinstate quarantine and to increase epidemiological staff                 
 in Alaska to look at influxes of diseases carried by travelers                
 from the Russian Far East and other Pacific Rim countries.                    
 Number 230                                                                    
 SENATOR ELLIS asked when the federal government discontinued                  
 this operation in Alaska.  DWAYNE PEEPLES responded they had                  
 one position in Alaska and it was discontinued in 1985.                       
 Number 238                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER moved that HJR 30 be passed out of committee                   
 with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was                
 so ordered.                                                                   
 Number 247                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced  HB 148  (EXEMPT U OF AK FROM APA                  
 PROCEDURES) as the next order of business.                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GENE THERRIAULT, prime sponsor of HB 148, said                 
 in June 1991, the Alaska Supreme Court found that the                         
 university was not specifically excluded from the provisions                  
 of the Administrative Procedures Act until such time that the                 
 legislature specifically excluded them.                                       
 When the university was placed under the Administrative                       
 Procedures Act in 1977, the intent was that the constitutional                
 and statutory language would allow the regents to retain                      
 control of the internal workings of the university.  However,                 
 the court in reaching its conclusion, did not consider the                    
 intent and ruled that the APA would apply unless the                          
 legislature gave a specific exemption to the university.                      
 Representative Therriault said the adjudication provisions of                 
 the APA were not designed for employee or student grievances.                 
 The majority of university grievances are resolved with little                
 or no expense at an early stage of review.  The procedure                     
 outlined in the APA would result in an extraordinary expense.                 
 HB 148 would exempt the university from the APA, and would                    
 allow the university to go back to the grievance procedure                    
 they had in place until 1977.                                                 
 Number 310                                                                    
 SUSAN WARNER and JOANNA LOVING-BELYEA, classified employees                   
 at the University of Alaska-Southeast, requested that HB 148                  
 be removed from the table until a formally approved alternate                 
 grievance policy is in place, which it is not at this point                   
 in time, from the employee perspective.                                       
 Number 317                                                                    
 SENATOR SALO said she shared their concern, and she asked how                 
 long they thought it would take to get an alternative plan in                 
 place.  SUSAN WARNER responded that most of the employees have                
 great confidence that the administration and the employees can                
 work it out in a timely manner.  She also pointed out that the                
 university employees do not have a bargaining unit to                         
 represent them, and it is her understanding that the typical                  
 kinds of grievance procedures that are relevant to employees                  
 are generally evolved through negotiations between the                        
 administration and the bargaining unit representation.  She                   
 said anything that can be done to stop the passage of this                    
 particular legislation until there is that agreement between                  
 the university administration and the university governance                   
 structure would be greatly appreciated.                                       
 Number 352                                                                    
 WENDY REDMAN, Vice President, University of Alaska, said she                  
 understands the concerns voiced by Ms. Warner, but she thinks                 
 there are some misunderstandings.                                             
 Ms. Redman said the university had in place a grievance                       
 procedure before the APA process was laid on it.  It wasn't                   
 a perfect process, but the employee governance group worked                   
 for over a year and developed a new grievance procedure which                 
 was just about ready to be put in place, but was held in                      
 abeyance until they got a court ruling.  Ms. Redman said if                   
 HB 148 passes, it would be their intention would be to take                   
 that last grievance policy and put that into place on an                      
 interim basis until the June board meeting.  She added that                   
 the president of the university would be more than willing to                 
 commit to the employees the exact policy that will be put in                  
 place, pending final approval by the governance groups once                   
 the APA is passed, so that the employees know exactly what is                 
 going to be there and there is not a gap in coverage.                         
 Ms. Redman urged the passage of HB 148.                                       
 Number 395                                                                    
 SENATOR SALO asked how many different grievance procedures                    
 would replace the Administrative Procedures Act.  WENDY REDMAN                
 answered that there is one grievance procedure, but there are                 
 different aspects to it.                                                      
 Number 430                                                                    
 SENATOR ELLIS asked if the Chair would entertain a motion that                
 there be a letter of intent drafted to accompany the bill                     
 stating that it's the legislature's intent that there not be                  
 a gap time between when the bill passes and when an interim                   
 grievance procedure is put in place.  CHAIRMAN RIEGER agreed                  
 and stated the bill would be set aside until later in the                     
 meeting so that a letter of intent could be drafted.                          
 Number 445                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced  SB 143  (STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATE               
 REDUCTION) as the next order of business.                                     
 CAROL CARROL, staff to Senator Jay Kerttula, prime sponsor of                 
 SB 143,  explained the legislation will reduce the interest                   
 rates on student loans from eight percent to six percent.                     
 The rate of interest on a loan in default would be reduced                    
 from ten percent to eight percent.  She said Senator Kerttula                 
 feels that students of the State of Alaska should be able to                  
 take advantage of the reduction in interest rates that the                    
 nation is presently experiencing.                                             
 Number 480                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER questioned if this change would create more                    
 problems in the student loan program and, if so, why would we                 
 want to do that.  CAROL CARROL responded that according to the                
 projections of the bond council, when they use a growth rate                  
 of three percent for this loan fund, their assumption is that                 
 it will accelerate the time that the student loan corporation                 
 has to make a decision about whether to limit loans, so there                 
 won't be enough money for every student that applies.  Because                
 the state is no longer putting any money into the fund, that                  
 decision is going to have to be made anyway.  She added that                  
 this would at least give the students the benefits of the                     
 lower interest rates.                                                         
 Number 500                                                                    
 MARY LOU MADDEN, Assistant Director, Postsecondary Commission,                
 Department of Education, stated the commission does not have                  
 a position on SB 143, and they are, in fact, studying the                     
 whole question of the long-term viability of the loan program,                
 particularly in the absence of general fund monies, and their                 
 reliance on the bond markets.                                                 
 Number 510                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN wondered if there wasn't a better way to do this                
 instead of setting the interest rate at a fixed rate in                       
 statute.  MARY LOU MADDEN said she thought there were other                   
 alternative ways of assuring that students get a break when                   
 the rate goes down, and, at the same time, assuring that there                
 is money in the future.                                                       
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER said he was willing to let the bill move out                  
 of committee, but he has concern with anything that weakens                   
 the program.  He added that he did not like it when the                       
 program was changed from being funded out of the general fund                 
 to relying on the bond markets.                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS moved that SB 143 be passed out of committee                    
 with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was                
 so ordered.                                                                   
 Number 535                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced  CSHB 217(JUD)  (NATIVE CORPORATION                
 DIVIDENDS TO MINORS) as the next order of business.                           
 RENA BUCKOVICH, staff to Representative Eileen MacLean,                       
 explained the purpose of HB 217 is to require Native                          
 corporation's under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act                   
 (ANSCA) to hold a minor's dividends in an interest bearing                    
 account while the minor is in state custody.                                  
 The legislation was requested by the Department of Health and                 
 Social Services and the Native corporations to assure that                    
 stock dividends are protected and spent for the child's                       
 benefit while the child is in state custody.                                  
 Besides requiring the corporation to set up interest bearing                  
 accounts for minors held in state custody, Ms. Buckovich said                 
 the bill also prohibits the corporation from using the                        
 property in the account unless approved by a court and                        
 specifies when corporations can distribute property.  Further,                
 it exempts the retention and distribution of dividends and                    
 distributions under the legislation from the Uniform Transfers                
 to Minors Act.                                                                
 Number 575                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER moved that CSHB 217(JUD) be passed out of                      
 committee with individual recommendations.  Hearing no                        
 objection, it was so ordered.                                                 
 Number 578                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced  HB 97  (PARENTAL CARE FOR CHILD IN                
 STATE CUSTODY) as the next order of business.                                 
 ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant, Department of Health and                  
 Social Services, said the legislation was requested by                        
 department.  In 1991, there was a court decision that reversed                
 a lower court decision and ruled that the state must pay for                  
 the medical costs of a child in state custody even though the                 
 child lives with his or her parents.  Holding the state                       
 responsible for medical costs of children in its custody who                  
 are placed at home would result in less protection for these                  
 children and other children in need of aid.                                   
 The ramifications of this decision may also lead to the state                 
 being held liable for other routine maintenance costs of                      
 children, even to the extent of room and board for children                   
 who are technically in state custody, yet living with their                   
 parents.  Mr. Lindstrom said it had never been the intent nor                 
 the practice of the Division of Family & Youth Services to pay                
 those costs and HB 97 will clarify in statute what has been                   
 the regular practice of the division.                                         
 TAPE 93-37, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 030                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN asked why the bill has a retroactive effective                  
 date.  ELMER LINDSTROM answered that the effective date is an                 
 artifact of when the court ruling was made in the original                    
 case.  He added there is a tremendous potential liability to                  
 the state if the bill does not pass, but he is not aware of                   
 any outstanding claims.                                                       
 Number 041                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER moved that HB 97 be passed out of committee                    
 with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was                
 so ordered.                                                                   
 Number 045                                                                    
 before the committee as the next order of business.  He                       
 directed attention to a proposed HESS SCS.                                    
 SENATOR ELLIS moved that SCS HB 178(HES) be adopted.  Hearing                 
 no objection, the motion carried.                                             
 SENATOR MILLER moved that SCS HB 178(HES) be passed out of                    
 committee with individual recommendations.  Hearing no                        
 objection, it was so ordered.                                                 
 Number 055                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN MILLER brought  HB 148  (EXEMPT U OF AK FROM APA                     
 PROCEDURES) back before the committee.                                        
 SENATOR ELLIS read the following proposed intent language into                
 the record:  "It is the intent of the legislature that upon                   
 passage of HB 148 the university put into place the draft                     
 grievance procedure distributed to employees for review on                    
 March 22, 1993.  It is the understanding of the legislature                   
 that this policy will be used as an interim procedure only                    
 until the University of Alaska general assembly and the Board                 
 of Regents formally and jointly agree to a successor grievance                
 policy.  It is further the intent of the legislature that the                 
 University of Alaska assembly and Board of Regents reach final                
 approval of a successor grievance policy by June 15, 1993.                    
 SENATOR ELLIS moved adoption of the intent language to HB 148.                
 SENATOR LEMAN objected and then withdrew his objection.  There                
 being no further objection, the Chair stated the Letter of                    
 Intent was adopted.                                                           
 SENATOR MILLER moved HB 148, along with the Letter of Intent,                 
 out of committee with individual recommendations.  Hearing no                 
 objection, it was so ordered.                                                 
 There being no further business to come before the committee,                 
 the meeting was adjourned at 5:10 p.m.                                        

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