Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/24/1994 02:20 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
              SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE                              
                       February 24, 1994                                       
                           2:20 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Tim Kelly, Chairman                                                   
 Senator Steve Rieger, Vice-Chairman                                           
 Senator Bert Sharp                                                            
 Senator Georgianna Lincoln                                                    
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 SENATE BILL NO. 266                                                           
 "An Act extending the termination date of the Board of Certified              
 Direct-Entry Midwives; relating to the scope of practice of                   
 certified direct-entry midwives; and providing for an effective               
 SENATE BILL NO. 213                                                           
 "An Act extending the Alaska Public Utilities Commission and the              
 regulatory cost charge."                                                      
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SB 266 - NO PREVIOUS ACTION.                                                  
 SB 213 - See Labor & Commerce minutes dated 9/28/93 and                       
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Annette Krietzer, Aide                                                        
 Senator Loren Leman                                                           
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
   POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced SB 266.                                      
 Wendy Thon                                                                    
 Alaska Nurses Association                                                     
 237 E. 3rd Avenue, #3                                                         
 Anchorage, Alaska 99501-2523                                                  
   POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 266.                                         
 Pam Weaver, Member                                                            
 Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwife                                       
 OFFNET - 907-373-3420                                                         
 Wasilla, Alaska 99687                                                         
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 266.                                        
 Kaye Kanne, Chairperson                                                       
 Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwife                                       
 P.O. Box 200                                                                  
 Talkeetna, Alaska 99676                                                       
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 266.                                        
 Don Schroer, Chairman                                                         
 Alaska Public Utilities Commission                                            
 1016 W. 6th, Suite 400                                                        
 Anchorage, Alaska 99501-1963                                                  
   POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 213.                                    
 David Hutchens, Director                                                      
 Alaska Rural Electric Cooperative Association                                 
 703 West Tudor Road, Suite 200                                                
 Anchorage, Alaska 99507                                                       
   POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 213.                                    
 Randy Welker, CPA                                                             
 Legislative Auditor                                                           
 Legislative Budget & Audit Committee                                          
 P.O. Box 113300                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-3300                                                     
   POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 213.                                    
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 94-11, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TIM KELLY  called the Labor and Commerce Committee meeting     g    
 to order at 2:20 p.m.                                                         
 SENATOR KELLY introduced SB 266 (DIRECT-ENTRY MIDWIVES/BOARD &                
 PRACTICES) sponsored by SENATOR LOREN LEMAN, and invited ANNETTE              
 KRIETZER, Aide to SENATOR LEMAN. to testify.                                  
 MS. KRIETZER gave a brief review of the six sections in a Sectional           
 Analysis, and she began by explaining SB 266 would extend the                 
 termination date of the Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives,             
 define the scope of practice of certified direct-entry midwives,              
 and provide for an effective date.                                            
 MS. KRIETZER directed the attention of the committee to a report              
 prepared by RANDY WELKER, CPA, for the Legislative Budget and Audit           
 Committee.  She quoted SENATOR LEMAN as being encouraged by the               
 professionalism of the allied health professionals such as physical           
 therapists, nurse practioners, physician Assistants, and others who           
 have called SENATOR LEMAN'S office, fearful they were being kept              
 out of the health care reform debate by physicians.                           
 MS. KRIETZER reviewed the letters in the bill packet, some in                 
 opposition and others in support of the bill, including a letter              
 from GOVERNOR WALTER HICKEL.                                                  
 MS. KRIETZER explained she has drawn on her experience as a health            
 policy maker in the Aleutians East Borough, and as the health                 
 director from her former community in the Aleutians, which involved           
 hiring mid-level practioners for their clinic and emergency medical           
 services, for her experise.  She described how overlapping client             
 populations can produce friction among health providers.                      
 Number 060                                                                    
 MS. KRIETZER focused on possible reservations about SB 266, which             
 she determined had to do with putting into regulation the list of             
 women, for whom a midwife may not knowingly assist in delivery.               
 She directed attention to the statutes and reviewed the list in the           
 bill packet dealing with the serious conditions that would preclude           
 the assistance of a midwife.                                                  
 MS. KRIETZER defined the difference in practice by physicians                 
 assistants, EMTs, and nurses, all who practice under the liability            
 protection of a physician, but she said advanced nurse practioners            
 and midwives do not.  She discussed the problems for the midwives             
 in being solely liable for their work.                                        
 SENATOR KELLY thanked MS. KRIETZER, and called on WENDY THON, on              
 teleconference from Anchorage.                                                
 Number 103                                                                    
 MS. THON identified herself as being on the Legislative Committee             
 for the Alaska Nurses Association, and testified to some opposition           
 to SB 266.  She explained the nurses association does support the             
 extension of the Direct-Entry Midwife Board until 1998.  However,             
 they had reservations concerning the scope of practice issues in              
 Section 2, paragraph (6).                                                     
 MS. THON explained all professional groups are defined in statute,            
 but the definition of direct-entry midwives does not indicate they            
 see a certain subset or narrow group of population such as low risk           
 pregnant women.  She further explained the definition was lacking             
 in statute without the specific language in AS 08.65.140 (a-f) as             
 repealed in Section 4 of the bill.                                            
 SENATOR KELLY turned the teleconference network to Wasilla to hear            
 from PAM WEAVER, a member of the Board of Certified Direct-Entry              
 MS. WEAVER spoke to the comments from MS. THON and thought there              
 could be an agreeable solution.  She wanted the legislation to move           
 In Juneau, SENATOR KELLY invited KAYE KANNE, Chair of the Board of            
 Certified Direct-Entry Midwife from Talkeetna, to testify.                    
 MS. KANNE testified in support of SB 266, the extension of the                
 board, and moving the laundry list from the statute to regulation,            
 where she thought it belongs - technically.                                   
 Number 151                                                                    
 MS. KANNE explained the board has written thirty seven pages of               
 regulations and licensed 20 midwives.  She referred to the high               
 risk list conditions in statute, which she said needs to be in                
 regulation where the board can update it from year to year.  She              
 explained the list, which changes, was put in statute in 1985 when            
 there was no board established.  She further explained, although it           
 was updated in 1992, the board was not yet in place and regulations           
 hadn't been written yet.  She thought updating was an important               
 reason to put the list in regulation.                                         
 MS. KANNE said the Legislature approved the creation of the Board             
 of Certified Direct-Entry Midwife to regulate the practice of                 
 midwifery in Alaska, but midwives do not want to take on the                  
 liability of delivering high risk babies and have no intention of             
 changing the list or deleting anything from it.  She thought there            
 might be additions in the future.                                             
 SENATOR KELLY asked if that's the case, why does the board want to            
 take it out of statute, and MS. KANNE answered that they might want           
 to add to the list.  She used an entry dealing with 42 weeks post             
 dates, to explain the changes that have made in the medical                   
 SENATOR KELLY suggested she was giving conflicting testimony on               
 changing the list.  MS. KANNE clarified they had no intention of              
 making the list more lenient, and high risk deliveries would not be           
 SENATOR KELLY asked for clarification on what was requested in                
 Section 4, and MS. KANNE explained it was the statute on page 6 (d)           
 of the booklet.                                                               
 Number 200                                                                    
 MS. KANNE explained, in researching other professional definitions,           
 no other professional group had a laundry list of things they                 
 cannot do.  SENATOR KELLY countered by saying there was a list for            
 optometrists as opposed to ophthalmologists which don't.                      
 SENATOR RIEGER thought there was good policy in pushing as much               
 practice as possible to primary care providers, but was concerned             
 about the implications of the legislation in relation to proposed             
 statutes.  He wanted to see a list of what was being proposed                 
 before repealing current law.                                                 
 MS. KANNE explained why the list needed to be placed in regulation,           
 but thought the regulations would be returned to the legislature              
 for confirmation.                                                             
 MS. KRIETZER clarified the regulation process was a public process            
 and allows for public comment, where concerns are raised.                     
 Number 245                                                                    
 SENATOR KELLY reminded MS. KRIETZER the bureaucracy enacts                    
 regulations all the time that people don't want, and he explained             
 how the board could change the regulations.                                   
 MS. KANNE said they have a certified nurse-midwife and an OB-GYN on           
 the Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives as well as two direct-           
 entry midwives and a public member.  She explained it has been an             
 agreeable membership, and everyone wanted to see the safe practice            
 of midwives.  She referred to the regulations the board has written           
 and said they were strict.  SENATOR KELLY said he didn't see the              
 necessity for change and asked MS. KRIETZER for her answer.                   
 MS. KRIETZER explained the changes would make it more accessible              
 for a board through the public process to keep up with changes in             
 medical standards, and she explained possible changes in standard             
 of care.                                                                      
 SENATOR LINCOLN admitted to being confused on the changes, and she            
 quizzed MS. KANNE on the reasons for the changes.  She asked if               
 there was anything on the list that should not be in statute, and             
 MS. KANNE repeated her contention about updating the list.  She               
 referred to the 1992 changes, when the board met with the nurses              
 association, and she reviewed the additions to the list at that               
 Number 297                                                                    
 SENATOR LINCOLN asked if it was difficult to get the changes, and             
 MS. KANNE reviewed the 1992 changes that set up the board.  SENATOR           
 LINCOLN asked if there was anything on the list now that needed to            
 be changed, and MS. KANNE said there wasn't, but she knew the                 
 guidelines change each year.                                                  
 SENATOR LINCOLN assured MS. KANNE the legislature has always                  
 complied to the wishes of the midwives, and she didn't think it was           
 difficult to get a statute changed.                                           
 MS. KANNE said the midwife association cannot afford a lobbyist,              
 and since she lives in Talkeetna, it is difficult and expensive to            
 come to Juneau.  SENATOR LINCOLN said she has 93 communities who              
 are in her same shoes, but she thought the prevailing mechanism was           
 the one for the legislature to use.  She didn't think there should            
 be a need to hire a lobbyist each time a change in statute is                 
 required, and she suggested the committee hold the bill.                      
 SENATOR KELLY admitted to the same reservations, but had no                   
 opposition to extending the board, and there was agreement among              
 the members of the committee.                                                 
 SENATOR KELLY said he would hold the bill and work with SENATOR               
 LEMAN'S staff for a future meeting for some other arrangement.                
 SENATOR SHARP said he would want some idea as to what is proposed.            
 EXTENSION AND REGULATORY COST CHARGE) sponsored by the Senate Labor           
 and Commerce Committee, and announced the committee would be                  
 looking at some potential amendments.  SENATOR KELLY proposed to              
 adopt a working draft from the amendments being proposed and return           
 with a committee substitute another time.                                     
 SENATOR KELLY invited DON SCHROER, Chairman of the Alaska Public              
 Utilities Commission to make some proposed amendments, and he said            
 he would like to make some comments.                                          
 Number 349                                                                    
 MR. SCHROER said he would review the Proposed Amendments for SB 213           
 as presented by the committee.  He began by noting the words,                 
 liberally construed, which ARECA has asked to have removed from the           
 statutes, but he reminded the committee the language has been                 
 discussed by the supreme court in HEA v. City of Kenai, which he            
 MR. SCHROER asked if there has ever been any abuses by the                    
 commission of the public, persons, or a utility in the use of                 
 "liberally construed." He told the committee the commission could             
 work with any statutes the legislators introduce, but he believed             
 it would affect the ability of the commission, and he gave a couple           
 of examples, the first being the problems in the cellular linkup              
 with Barrow.                                                                  
 SENATOR KELLY suggested the committee take each of the proposed               
 amendments and discuss them in order.                                         
  Amendment #1 - Replace the powers of the commission shall be                
 liberally construed to accomplish its stated purpose in AS                   
 42.05.141(a)(1) with the powers of the commission shall be those             
 specifically conferred by the legislature or necessarily implied              
 from those specific grants of authority.                                     
 SENATOR KELLY asked who wanted to speak in favor of Amendment #1,             
 and DAVID HUTCHENS, Director of the Alaska Rural Electric                     
 Cooperative Association,(ARECA) testified in support of amending              
 the statute, because he has seen a number of instances where the              
 commission in the past has broadened its power beyond any                     
 legislative history.  He gave examples involving campaign                     
 contributions, lobbying expenses, environmental externality, and              
 the Healy Clean Coal project.                                                 
 SENATOR KELLY said he didn't want to spend too much time on each of           
 the amendments, because today's decisions won't be final until the            
 committee looks at the proposed committee substitute at another               
 SENATOR SHARP proposed Amendment #1 saying to leave the words in              
 the bill would allow them to do as they wished, and he suggested it           
 was a loaded gun.                                                             
 Number 401                                                                    
 MR. SCHROER explained legislation would be required whenever the              
 court finds a gap, and he believed the APUC was established because           
 the legislature did not want to deal with these decisions each                
 time.  Amendment #1 was not adopted on a 2 - 2 vote.                          
 SENATOR KELLY read the second amendment, which was proposed by the            
 auditor and ARECA and opposed by APUC and ATA.                                
  Amendment #2 - Adjust the allocation of the Regulatory Cost                  
 Charge (RCC) (AS 42.05.253):                                                  
 MR. SCHROER opposed the amendment to keep the system simple and the           
 costs down.                                                                   
 RANDY WELKER, the Legislative Auditor, defended the amendment by              
 explaining there were some basic time keeping systems that could be           
 implemented at APUC, which would help in the rate setting process             
 but also provide valuable management information on the work load             
 and staff management.                                                         
 SENATOR KELLY proposed Amendment #2 to the committee.  There being            
 no discussion, the amendment was adopted.                                     
 Next, SENATOR KELLY proposed Amendments #3 and #4, which were both            
  Amendment #3 - Delete automatic repeal of RCC. (Proposed by                  
 Auditor.  Supported by APUC.)                                                 
  Amendment #4 - To prevent RCC over-collection, amend AS                      
 42.05.253 and 42.06.285 to ensure that over-collection does not               
 lapse into the general fund, but rather would apply to the                    
 subsequent year thus reducing that year's RCC rate.  (Proposed by             
 APUC.  Supported by ARECA.)                                                   
 SENATOR KELLY proposed Amendment #5 to the committee.                         
  Amendment #5 - Amend AS 42.05.711 to make it easier for                      
 utility consumers to opt in or opt out of economic regulation.                
 (Proposed by Auditor.)                                                        
 MR. WELKER, the legislative auditor, explained the limits that were           
 set awhile back haven't been changed, and it was felt the limits              
 should be changed to make it easier for consumers to take part in             
 the election process.  He recommended that petition and election              
 requirement should be modeled after AS 42.05.712.                             
 There was no opposition to Amendment #5, and the following                    
 amendment was adopted with no opposition, also.                               
  Amendment #6 - Stagger the terms of the APUC member's terms.                 
 Commissioners are appointed for a six year term.  (Proposed by the            
 Auditor.  Supported by APUC and ARECA.)                                       
 SENATOR KELLY proposed Amendment #7 to the committee.                         
  Amendment #7 - Amend the procurement code, AS 42.015.141, to                 
 provide an exemption for the APUC when procuring expert witnesses             
 for cases.  (Proposed by APUC and supported by ATA.)                          
 Number 453                                                                    
 SENATOR SHARP spoke in opposition to Amendment #7, commenting that            
 when this has been done in the past, it has come back to bite us.             
 SENATOR KELLY questioned MR. SCHROER as to the restrictions placed            
 upon him in the procurement code to get expert witnesses.  MR.                
 SCHROER explained it was mainly time consumed by the procedure in             
 getting the witness, time that was needed by the staff to collect             
 the information needed for the case before the decision deadline.             
 SENATOR SHARP said he had never seen a rate case expedited to the             
 point of not allowing time to hire a consultant, since the hearing            
 date was usually extended.                                                    
 SENATOR LINCOLN questioned the actual obligation of the provision,            
 and she asked if it had been considered by the auditor.                       
 MR. WELKER said it was not an issue raised in the audit process,              
 and he was not aware of how long it was a concern of the                      
 commission, but he conceded the audit was a bit dated.                        
 SENATOR LINCOLN expressed some concerns, and she asked for more               
 examination by the auditors before the bill is passed from                    
 committee.  She asked if the amendment could be held for another              
 MR. SCHROER said there was no problem, since it is the way the                
 commission has been operating, but he explained it would make it              
 easier to operate.  He said that SENATOR SHARP was correct in                 
 asking for extensions, but it delays the process.                             
 SENATOR LINCOLN pressed for an answer to how many times has there             
 been a delaying factor in procuring expert witnesses, and MR.                 
 SCHROER gave an example of one with the Anchorage Telephone                   
 SENATOR KELLY announced Amendment #7 died for lack of support.                
 SENATOR KELLY introduced Amendment #8 to the committee and read the           
 proposal by ATA: "The Alaska Telephone Association asserted that              
 given the tremendous changes in technology within the telephone               
 industry, the APUC doesn't have the ability to train their staff on           
 a timely basis for such specialized knowledge, while waiting on a             
 list of people to be hired within the State."                                 
 Number 502                                                                    
 MR. SCHROER said the subject has not been discussed by the                    
 commission, and he described going through the requirements of                
 hiring people on the register.  He explained it was difficult to              
 get personnel for technical positions, but the commission has not             
 formally taken a position on the amendment.  He thought someone               
 from Anchorage might want to testify on the amendment.                        
 SENATOR KELLY checked the Anchorage teleconference, but found only            
 observers.  He brought the debate back to committee.                          
 MR. SCHROER said it was difficult and explained the commission had            
 gone through three registers before finding someone qualified to              
 handle the work, and he admitted it was difficult under the present           
 code, but he stressed they had no official position on the code.              
 SENATOR KELLY proposed Amendment #8 to committee as an idea worth             
  Amendment #8 - Provide a waiver for the APUC from the state's                
 hiring practices.  (Proposed by ATA.)                                         
 SENATOR LINCOLN opposed Amendment #8, saying she found it scary not           
 to have some kind of a hiring practice.  She expressed concerns               
 that persons in Alaska, or local hire, would not get the first                
 opportunity and would open the door to possible abuse.                        
 MR. SCHROER suggested there could be reasonable changes in the                
 hiring practices.                                                             
 SENATOR KELLY admitted to being swayed by SENATOR LINCOLN'S                   
 comments and asked MR. FINK to get some restrictive language on               
 Amendment #8.  It was agreed the waiver might be for technical                
 positions.  The amendment was held for further action.                        
 Number 552                                                                    
 MR. WELKER asked for clarification on all of Amendment #3, since he           
 had offered a solution and ARECA had proposed another one.  There             
 was some discussion on the proposals, and MR. WELKER said he would            
 like to see the cost based on a reasonable approximation of the               
 work that generates the costs using some kind of a time keeping               
 SENATOR KELLY asked MR. FINK to come up with language to answer MR.           
 WELKER'S suggestion.  SENATOR SHARP suggested a formula be devised            
 to fit part A of Amendment #2, and he thought part B explained how            
 the dollars were collected from the utilities.                                
 SENATOR KELLY led the committee in adopting the following two                 
 proposals: (A) The APUC should periodically adjust the RCC factors            
 to reflect workload on an industry by industry basis utilizing a              
 timekeeping system, and (B) adjust the gross electric revenues by             
 deleting the cost of power for electric utilities before the RCC is           
 SENATOR KELLY announced there was a working draft for SB 213, which           
 would be brought up at a future meeting.                                      
 SENATOR KELLY reminded the committee of the Joint House/Senate                
 Labor and Commerce meeting in the House committee room on Thursday,           
 3/3/94, on HSCR 3 - Disapproving Executive Order No. 89.                      
 There being no further business to come before the committee, the             
 meeting was adjourned at 3:15 by SENATOR KELLY.                               

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