Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/20/1996 01:45 PM Senate L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE February 20, 1996 1:45 P.M. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Tim Kelly, Chairman Senator John Torgerson, Vice Chairman Senator Mike Miller Senator Jim Duncan Senator Judy Salo MEMBERS ABSENT All Present COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 197 "An Act prohibiting increases in health insurance premiums if the insured is a victim of domestic violence." SENATE BILL NO. 119 "An Act requiring conciliation panel review in a civil action against an architect, engineer, or land surveyor; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 43 "An Act relating to membership on the Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors; relating to registration by the board; clarifying the meaning of practicing or offering to practice architecture, engineering, or land surveying; deleting teachers of post secondary land surveying courses from a registration exemption; and amending the definition of 'practice of land surveying.'" SENATE BILL NO. 202 "An Act relating to the State Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 197 - See Labor and Commerce minutes dated 2/15/96. SB 119 - See Labor and Commerce minutes dated 1/11/96. SB 43 - See Labor and Commerce minutes dated 3/7/95. SB 202 - See Senate Labor and Commerce Committee minutes dated 1/18/96. WITNESS REGISTER Mary Vollendorf, Legislative Aide % Senator Loren Leman State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 119. Catherine Reardon, Director Division of Occupational Licensing Department of Commerce and Economic Development P.O. Box 110806 Juneau, AK 99811-0806 POSITION STATEMENT: Neutral position on SB 119. Senator Loren Leman State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 43. Mike Taurianian Kenai, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Supported concept of SB 43. Barbara Hufftuckness Teamsters Local 959 306 Willoughby Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Merle Jantz, Vice Chairman AELS Board 1077 Vincent Ct. North Pole, AK 99705 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 43. Sharon Macklin Alaska Professional Design Council 315 5th Ste., #8 Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 43. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-13, SIDE A Number 001 SL&C 2/20/96 SB 197 INSURANCE FOR DOMESTIC VIOL. VICTIMS CHAIRMAN KELLY called the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee meeting to order at 1:45 p.m. and announced SB 197 to be up for consideration. SHERMAN ERNOUF, Legislative Aide to Senator Kelly, said there was no opposition to the CS. SENATOR DUNCAN moved to adopt the CS to SB 197. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SENATOR DUNCAN moved to pass CSSB 197 (L&C) from Committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SL&C 2/20/96 Number 50 SB 119 MANDATORY MEDIATION/DESIGN PROF LAWSUITS SENATOR KELLY announced SB 119 to be up for consideration. SENATOR DUNCAN asked who the parties were involved in drafting the legislation. MR. ERNOUF replied Senator Leman, Colin Maynard, design professionals, and the court system. He had heard no objections from trial attorneys. SENATOR LEMAN explained that one change in the CS is that an issue goes to the panel before it is filed in court. The other is that each party puts up $450 which pays for the cost of the panelists. It is consistent with the model law the American Consulting Engineers Counsel has been using in other states. MARY VOLLENDORF, Legislative Aide to Senator Leman, explained that there was no cost to the State and that $450 would be put up front by each of the parties and depending on the outcome, the parties would pay the remaining cost to the panel. CATHERINE REARDON, Director, Occupational Licensing, commented that the Department of Law testified on a similar bill and had some legal concerns. From her point of view the bill is fiscally neutral. She said that it would be her Division's responsibility to choose a chairperson and it would then be his responsibility to choose the other two members of the panel. She questioned whether it would be possible to find attorneys for $300 per panel, but she said her Division could administer it. SENATOR KELLY asked if this bill was legal. MS. REARDON replied that she thought it was legal for the State to pay initially and then be reimbursed from program receipts. It wasn't one of the issues raised by the Attorney General's Office. SENATOR DUNCAN asked how the State would collect if someone refused to pay. MS. REARDON replied that in the other bill, not paying after the fact would be grounds for discipline of a licensee and she referred to the language on page 7, line 12 which said further that if a claimant fails to deposit funds required, the Department would impose a civil penalty of $1,000 against the claimant. She assumed the State would have to go to court to collect in most cases. SENATOR DUNCAN said he would like to see comments from the Department of Law in writing. Number 175 SENATOR KELLY asked if she supported the CS. MS. REARDON replied that she was neutral. SENATOR SALO questioned whether the statute of limitations language was new on page 7. SENATOR LEMAN replied that language was not in the original bill. SENATOR SALO asked what it meant. SENATOR LEMAN answered that it extends the statute of limitations until 30 days after the date of the decision of the panel, but it can't stop for more than six months. This is so that it can't be used to let the statute of limitations run out. MS. VOLLENDORF said the statute of limitations language was from model legislation and Mike Ford, Legislative Legal Counsel, had explained that depending on whether it was contractual or tort, the statute of limitations would be stopped until the decision of the panel was reached. There would be 30 days after the panel made its decision to either file a claim in court or if the decision had not been made within six months, the statute of limitations would start running again. SENATOR KELLY stated that they were waiting to hear from the Department of Law and said they would set the bill aside. SL&C 2/20/96 SB 43 ARCHITECTS, ENGINEERS, LAND SURVEYORS SENATOR KELLY announced SB 43 to be up for consideration. He said he heard of an additional problem that had just come up. SENATOR LEMAN, sponsor of SB 43, said one of the differences in the "f" version and the bill they heard last year was in section 1. Last year the Board requested flexibility for "a governor's appointment of an engineer" and that had been changed to "two civil engineers, and the three other engineering positions would be selected from other branches of the profession. The mining engineers who are currently named in statute objected. As an alternative the bill offers to say that one engineer be selected from mining, chemical, or petroleum engineering, the three smallest categories, as opposed to electrical, mechanical, and civil. This would assure that at all times there would be a mining, chemical, or petroleum engineer on the Board. The other change, SENATOR LEMAN said, is in section four, which Senator Duncan had suggested, to provide for a retired status registration. It would not authorize practice, but would enable retired engineers to have a procedure whereby they could become active, if they wanted to. He thought that reflected well on the many engineers who have retired in this State who would like to maintain their license without necessarily paying the full fee each year. Version "g" is different only in section 1 which is deleted. SENATOR LEMAN said it has been increasingly difficult, because of the small category of mining engineers, to find someone who is willing and able to serve. He said the Board spends a lot of time reviewing applications for registration and it leaves the smallest category with a mining engineer with the least amount of work to do, because there aren't that many new people applying for registration in mining engineering. There are many in the categories of civil, mechanical, and electrical. Number 300 SENATOR KELLY asked the Committee if they had a version preference. SENATOR MILLER said he preferred the "g" version. SENATOR KELLY asked if there were any other changes from the original bill in the "g" version. SHERMAN ERNOUF, Legislative Aide to Senator Tim Kelly, said the "Duncan amendment" was the only one. SENATOR SALO asked what was the composition of the panel. SENATOR LEMAN replied that it would be one person who is experienced in the settlement of disputes, one attorney, and one professional architect, engineer, or land surveyor. SENATOR SALO asked, regarding section 4, if the retired status people with a license for a continuing practice, could serve on the panel. SENATOR LEMAN said he didn't think so the way the bill is currently written. SENATOR SALO remarked that they would probably be very good to serve on a panel. SENATOR LEMAN agreed saying he would want to look at that further, but thought that they should have had to practice in Alaska before serving. Number 338 SENATOR MILLER moved to adopt the version "g" committee substitute. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SENATOR DUNCAN asked for clarification on how the committee substitute was different other than the retired status. SENATOR LEMAN replied that sections 1 and 2 are revisor's changes. Section 4 is the insertion of the word "or" on page 3, line 2. The Department of Law said it is difficult to enforce the Board's statutes without that word unless a person violates all three of the provisions. Section 5 was brought to the Board by the land surveyors. It takes out the exemption of land surveying teaching in a post secondary educational institution. The institution would have to have a registered land surveyor. They need this to elevate the status of land surveying. There are also some definition changes in the practice of land surveying that bring it more up to date with current practice. Number 369 MIKE TAURIANIAN, Soldotna, said he supported the concept of the bill. His concern was the small number of mining engineers to pick from, roughly five percent of all engineers, and the difficulty in not only getting someone to serve, but in providing geographical distribution. Electrical and mechanical engineers are about 33 percent of the total. So he requested restoring that language, dropping mining engineer and adding "three engineers from other branches of the profession of engineering." SENATOR KELLY said this committee had already made a policy call on that language, but this bill will go through several more committees and he would have an opportunity to address that issue again. MR. TAURIANIAN said he supported the retired status and he hoped language would be adopted regarding the engineers who come to Alaska and retire without working here first. Number 406 MERLE JANTZ, Vice Chairman, AELS Board, said they recently voted unanimously to support SB 43. He said he was very glad they are looking at the retired status issue. Regarding section 1, he felt that they need the expertise while reviewing applications. SENATOR KELLY explained they had already made that policy call and he could testify on that issue in the next committee of referral. SHARON MACKLIN, Alaska Professional Design Council, said there has been a concern raised having to do with the land surveying issue. SENATOR DUNCAN questioned language in section 1 of "g". SENATOR LEMAN noted that the other section was the one he considered to be a revisor's section, because it was referring to an entity that doesn't exist anymore. He wanted to hear what the Board wanted to do to establish evidence of practice for registration. He thought it would be consistent with some of the changes in sections 5 and 6 about upgrading the profession of land surveying. SENATOR KELLY commented that upgrading and closing the door might be a touchy subject. He asked if by deleting that language, engineers could be required to have more than eight years experience before they get a license. SENATOR LEMAN replied that it would be the equivalent of what the Board requires of other professions. SENATOR DUNCAN said he was concerned with the necessity of that section. SENATOR KELLY asked if anyone else wanted to testify on this bill. BARBARA HUFF, Teamsters Local 959, said they have concerns with the amount of time they are looking at with land surveyors. She requested that their staff who actually head up the land surveyors school in Anchorage, a four year program, have an opportunity to discuss this issue further. Their major concern is the additional training could negatively impact rural individuals and their ability to get fully trained or qualified in the field and to be able to function in that profession. SENATOR KELLY said he did not want to hold up the bill unnecessarily, but he wanted to see that question addressed before the bill left the Committee and said they would hear it again next Tuesday. SENATOR DUNCAN noted that they should also look at the retired status language so people couldn't just move to the State and get retired status. SL&C 2/20/06 SB 119 MANDATORY MEDIATION/DESIGN PROF LAWSUITS SENATOR KELLY announced SB 119 to be before the Committee again. MS. REARDON said she had called the Assistant Attorney General, Theresa Williams, who was out of the office. She offered to carry questions to her or to paraphrase from her notes from the other hearing. SENATOR DUNCAN said he would like to have something in writing from the Department of Laws at some point in the process. SENATOR KELLY noted that it has a Judiciary Committee referral and since it is basically a legal question, he wanted to move it on to that Committee. SENATOR MILLER moved to pass CSSB 119 (L&C) with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SL&C 2/20/96 SB 202 ARCHITECTS/ENGINEERS/LAND SURVEYORS SENATOR KELLY announced SB 202 to be up for consideration. He explained in this bill architect/engineers/land surveyors were asking for autonomy from the State Occupational Licensing Division. This has come up with other Boards and Commissions and there is some reluctance on the part of the State and the Legislature to do that. However, he thought it was something that need to be looked into during the interim as he didn't think it would be resolved right away. SENATOR KELLY adjourned the meeting at 2:25 p.m.