Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/08/1997 01:43 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
               SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE                             
                         April 8, 1997                                         
                           1:43 P.M.                                           
                                                                               
                                                                               
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Senator Loren Leman, Chairman                                                 
 Senator Jerry Mackie, Vice Chairman                                           
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Tim Kelly                                                             
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                         
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
 Confirmation Hearing:                                                         
  Board of Psychologist and Psychological Associate Examiners                  
   Susan L. Baxter                                                             
   E. Ben Crawford                                                             
   Gail C. Shortell - Anchorage                                                
   David J. Sperbeck - Anchorage                                               
  Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers                                    
   Eileen R. Bechtol - Homer                                                   
   Susan K. Crosson - Anchorage                                                
   Jon B. Wolfe - Douglas                                                      
  Alaska Public Utilities Commission (APUC)                                    
   James M. Posey - Anchorage                                                  
  Board of Barbers and Hairdressers                                            
   Sheryl Sutton - Juneau                                                      
   Robert Pearson - Juneau                                                     
  Board of Public Accountancy                                                  
   Kathleen Grimes - Palmer                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 122                                                           
 "An Act relating to unfair discrimination under a group health                
 insurance policy for services provided by marital and family                  
 therapists; and providing for an effective date."                             
                                                                               
  - MOVED CSSB 122(L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                       
                                                                               
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 30(FIN)                                                 
 "An Act relating to civil liability for certain skating and cycling           
 activities; and providing for an effective date."                             
                                                                               
  - MOVED SCSHB 30 (L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                      
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
                                                                               
 SB 122 - No previous action to consider.                                      
 HB 30 - No previous action to consider.                                       
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
 Ms. Rachael Moreland, Aide                                                    
 Senator Leman                                                                 
 State Capitol Bldg.                                                           
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Aide to sponsor of SB 122.                             
                                                                               
 Ms. Beverly Lindell, President                                                
 Alaska Association for Marriage and Family Therapy                            
 P.O. Box 32481                                                                
 Juneau, AK 99803                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 122.                                      
                                                                               
 Ms. Marci Wolff                                                               
 Licensed Marital and Family Therapist                                         
 110 W 15th Ave.                                                               
 Anchorage, Ak                                                                 
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 122.                                      
                                                                               
 Ms. Tima Priess                                                               
 Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist                                        
 P.O. Box 213                                                                  
 Ester, AK 99725                                                               
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 122.                                      
                                                                               
 Ms. Marianne Burke, Director                                                  
 Division of Insurance                                                         
 Department of Commerce and Economic Development                               
 P.O. Box 110805                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-0805                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 122.                                      
                                                                               
 Mr. Jerry Reinwand                                                            
 Blue Cross                                                                    
 2 Marine Way, Suite 219                                                       
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported CSSB 122(L&C).                               
                                                                               
 Mr. Tim Sullivan, Staff                                                       
 Representative Eldon Mulder                                                   
 State Capitol Bldg.                                                           
 Juneau, Ak 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Staff to sponsor of HB 30.                             
                                                                               
 Mr. Kevin Ritchie                                                             
 Alaska Municipal League                                                       
 217 2nd Street                                                                
 Juneau, Ak 99801                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported HB 30.                                       
 Mr. Jay Saunder                                                               
 Ms. Melissa Walker                                                            
 Skate Park Committee                                                          
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported HB 30.                                       
                                                                               
 Mr. Kevin Smith                                                               
 Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association                           
 217 2nd Street                                                                
 Juneau, Ak 99801                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Commented on HB 30.                                    
                                                                               
 Ms. Nancy Robb                                                                
 Parks and Recreation                                                          
 P.O. Box 1296                                                                 
 Valdez, AK 99686                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported HB 30.                                       
                                                                               
 Mr. Bill Musson, Director                                                     
 Petersburg Parks and Recreation                                               
 P.O. Box 329                                                                  
 Petersburg, AK 99833                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported HB 30.                                       
                                                                               
 Ms. Marnie Isaacs                                                             
 Municipality of Anchorage                                                     
 P.O. Box 196650                                                               
 Anchorage, AK 99519                                                           
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported HB 30.                                       
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 97-16, SIDE A                                                           
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN  called the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee               
 meeting to order at 1:43 p.m. and said they would review the Board            
 nominees for confirmation.                                                    
                                                                               
  MS. SHERYL SUTTON , Board of Barbers and Hairdressers, thanked               
 everyone for their consideration of her qualifications for                    
 appointment to the  board and apologized for being unable to attend           
 a previous hearing where her confirmation was taken up.                       
                                                                               
  MR. ROBERT PEARSON , Board of Barbers and Hairdressers, said he              
 lived in Juneau for the last 10 years and is a full-time student at           
 the University of Alaska Southeast and studies government.  He is             
 employed by the Alaska Council of School Administrators and works             
 putting on teacher training and continuing education.  He said he             
 heard of the position from Ms. Sutton and he wanted to get the                
 experience and learn something pursuant to his studies.  He also              
 feels he has the time to be attentive to the issues and do a good             
 job.                                                                          
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN said they would take up their confirmations in a               
 joint session and announced the Board of Psychologists and                    
 Psychological Associate Examiners.                                            
                                                                               
  MR. BEN CRAWFORD  said his family has been in Alaska about 100 years         
 and he is trained specifically as a psychologist in relationships             
 and issues relevant to our lifestyle like substance abuse and                 
 crisis debriefing.  He was encouraged as President of the Alaska              
 Psychological Association to put his name in as an applicant for              
 this position.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanked him for his willingness to             
 serve.                                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 134                                                                    
                                                                               
  MS. SUSAN BAXTER  said she has lived in Alaska since 1969 and                
 received her degree in Psychological Counseling in 1991 and has               
 been very active in professional issues.  She was encouraged by               
 professionals in her community to offer her services to the Board             
 and is willing to do that because she is concerned with issues that           
 have to do with protection of the public and facilitating the                 
 licensing of professionals.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanked her for her               
 willingness to serve.                                                         
                                                                               
  MS. GAIL SHORTELL  said she moved to Alaska in 1970 and she is               
 currently an attorney in solo practice.  She is interested in                 
 serving on the Board because she has a sound background in public             
 social services.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked her if there were any issues           
 the legislature should know about.  She replied no.  SENATOR LEMAN            
 wished her the best.                                                          
                                                                               
  MR. DAVID SPERBECK,  a clinical and forensic psychologist born in            
 Anchorage, said he has served the Board for about 10 years as a               
 consultant on issues related to ethics in complaints.  CHAIRMAN               
 LEMAN thanked him for his willingness to serve and announced the              
 Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers.                                    
                                                                               
 Number 200                                                                    
                                                                               
  MS. SUSAN CROSSON  said she has been a real estate appraiser for             
 about 18 years and owns her own business.  She said this board has            
 been in existence for only about 4 years and prior to that time               
 they were not licensed.  She said she served under Governor Hickel            
 and has been invited to reapply.                                              
                                                                               
 Number 241                                                                    
                                                                               
  MR. JON WOLFE  said he has been a resident of Juneau and Douglas for         
 about 15 years.  He said he is interested in serving because he has           
 a background in regulations and could benefit this new board.  He             
 has been appraising in Juneau for about seven years.                          
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked in an effort to come up with an equitable                
 system of paying for the cost of education across the State of                
 Alaska in the REAA areas, there has been a suggestion to use                  
 property taxes and someone said that would cost more to appraise              
 than they would collect, if that is a valid assessment.    MR. WOLFE          
 said he didn't have an opinion on that.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanked him           
 for his willingness to serve and said they would next take up the             
 Alaska Public Utilities Commission.                                           
                                                                               
  MR. JAMES POSEY,  18-year Alaskan resident, said he has had a number         
 of jobs here.  He brings his experience in management, technology,            
 and problem solving to the Board.                                             
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if he could see any particular challenges                
 coming our way with the federal government mandating deregulation.            
 MR. POSEY replied that with deregulation as instituted from the               
 East Coast, one must always look at rural areas and areas that are            
 disconnected as being special circumstances and if Congress, in its           
 wisdom, provides the state utility commissions with the support and           
 regulatory devices that would allow local circumstances to fall               
 under the local commission, he thought they could successfully                
 negotiate deregulation.  That is what is currently happening in the           
 area of telecommunications.  He said a special situation is that we           
 are not connected to the grid.  We are like an island and there               
 could be some market failure situations.                                      
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if he thought competition in the Alaska market           
 place in telecommunications has been a success so far.  MR. POSEY             
 replied that it is being instituted successfully because of how the           
 Act works and also because of the expertise within the various                
 competing utilities, considering its complexity and new technology.           
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanked him for his willingness to serve and                   
 announced they would next take up the Board of Public Accountancy.            
                                                                               
 Number 354                                                                    
                                                                               
  MS. KATHLEEN GRIMES  said she had been in Alaska since 1974 and              
 although she is not a CPA, she has an extensive accounting                    
 background of about 15 years.  She has an accounting degree and a             
 master's in governmental and nonprofit finance.  She said she has             
 volunteered her time locally and is ready to volunteer at a state-            
 wide level.                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if the construction projects she worked with             
 were in rural Alaska.  MS. GRIMES said the majority of them were              
 during the Project 80s when all the schools in Anchorage were being           
 built.  CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked her to help the legislature with her             
 suggestions for a better government and thanked her for her                   
 willingness to serve. He then announced he would notify the Senate            
 of their hearings.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 450                                                                    
                                                                               
        SB 122 INS.COVERAGE:MARRIAGE & FAMILY THERAPIST                       
                                                                              
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced  SB 122  to be up for consideration.                 
                                                                               
  MS. RACHAEL MORELAND , Aide to Senator Leman, said that SB 122 was           
 requested by the Alaska Association for Marriage and Family                   
 Therapy.  It adds marital and family therapists to the list of                
 providers against whom insurers may not discriminate.  It does not            
 mandate insurers to add coverage of marital and family therapists             
 where the coverage currently is not provided.  It merely requires             
 that insurers treat marital and family therapists on equal footing            
 with other licensed mental health providers and extend the same               
 opportunities for coverage that the insurer offers these licensed             
 providers.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Currently health insurers offering mental health services may not             
 discriminate against licensed psychologists, psychological                    
 associates, or clinical social workers.  SB 122 would allow those             
 insured with mental health coverage to choose treatment from a                
 licensed marital and family therapist.                                        
                                                                               
 MS. MORELAND said she wanted to correct a phrase on sponsor                   
 statement at the end of paragraph two.  It is incorrect where it              
 says the insurance company offers the same as in other states.  It            
 should read, "It merely requires that insurers treat marital and              
 family therapists on equal footing with other licensed providers in           
 their field.                                                                  
                                                                               
 She said marital and family therapists are licensed or certified in           
 37 states and are recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and             
 Human Services as one of the five core mental health disciplines in           
 the U.S.                                                                      
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if it was correct that if an insurance policy            
 provides for mental health services, then the insurer cannot                  
 discriminate against marriage and family therapists because they              
 practice in that area.  MS. MORELAND said that was correct for                
 certain services.                                                             
                                                                               
 Since there was a quorum present,  SENATOR MACKIE  moved and asked            
 unanimous consent that the individuals they listened to for                   
 confirmation for the various boards be submitted to the joint                 
 session for confirmation.  There were no objections and it was so             
 ordered.                                                                      
                                                                               
  MS. BEVERLY LINDELL , President, Alaska Association for Marriage and         
 Family Therapy, supported SB 122 saying it's very simple.  They are           
 just being asked to be added to the list of providers that cannot             
 be discriminated against by insurers.  It's not a mandate for                 
 coverage; it's not any willing provider language.                             
                                                                               
 MS. LINDELL thought this bill is important because it provides                
 fairness as marriage and family therapists are one of the five core           
 mental health professions as identified by the National Institute             
 of Mental Health.  The others are already in this legislation.                
 They are not asking for special treatment.                                    
                                                                               
 She said the second issue is cost, the argument being that it will            
 increase insurance costs.  An opinion from the Division of                    
 Insurance on this question a few years ago came back stating they             
 could find no evidence of that happening and there is some                    
 suggestion that it could actually decrease costs.                             
                                                                               
 MS. LINDELL stated that there is considerable evidence that the               
 treatment of mental and emotional disorders is not unproductive.              
 She said a report prepared by the Mental Health Liaison Group out             
 of Washington D. C. estimated on a national basis over $1 billion             
 could be saved with appropriate mental health treatment.  Another             
 study by the Harvard Community Health Plan involved patients whose            
 symptoms may have still included psycho-social problems and when              
 group therapy was added, there was a reduction by 50% of doctor               
 visits.                                                                       
                                                                               
 She said there is now considerable evidence that licensed marriage            
 and family therapists can complete treatment in fewer sessions than           
 individual treatment which translates into reduced costs for                  
 consumers and insurers.                                                       
                                                                               
 The third issue has to do with the rights of consumers, and                   
 allowing freedom of choice of qualified providers is fair.  In a              
 1993 survey of consumers, the American Psychologists found that               
 marriage and family therapists were the type of therapist most                
 often recommended by consumers to family and friends.                         
                                                                               
 Finally, she said they have heard a lot about how the American                
 family is in a lot of trouble.  They are the profession that has              
 special expertise in the treatment and care of families and they              
 would like the opportunity to do that.                                        
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if she supported Senator Mackie's proposed               
 amendment that would insert a new section on page 2, line 11                  
 saying, "(2) "unfair discrimination" does not include requirements            
 imposed by an insurer for purposes of utilization review, cost                
 containment, or standards of clinically appropriate health care               
 services".  MS. LINDELL deferred to the Division of Insurance.                
                                                                               
 Number 500                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked what the core mental health groups were.  MS.            
 LINDELL replied the other groups are psychiatrists, psychologist or           
 psych-associates, social workers and professional nurses.  CHAIRMAN           
 LEMAN noted that they are not in this legislation, but are in the             
 statute.                                                                      
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN said in a letter of support from Dr. Pollick that              
 insurers do not compensate licensed marriage and family therapists            
 equally.  He asked if the intent was to mean that they did not have           
 equal access to insurance coverage.  MS. LINDELL said that is                 
 correct and agreed that they do not intend to make compensation               
 equal to that of a medical doctor.                                            
                                                                               
  MS. MARCI WOLFF , licensed marriage and family therapist, supported          
 SB 122.  She has specific training for family therapy rather than             
 a focus on other areas of psychology such as research or social               
 policy making.  She recited an extensive list of credentials and              
 said she is currently in private practice and regularly receives              
 referral from doctors, psychologists, social workers, and other               
 family therapists, attorneys, military sources, and community                 
 agencies.  She receives these referrals because she's effective in            
 providing quality therapy in a brief cost effective manner.  She              
 said marriage and family therapists need to be recognized and                 
 supported legislatively in providing the services for which they              
 are uniquely qualified to provide.                                            
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if any of her services are currently being               
 paid by insurance.  She replied that many are.                                
                                                                               
 Number 540                                                                    
                                                                               
  MS. TIMA PRIESS  said she is a licensed marriage and family                  
 therapist.  She said she has been accepted as a provider by several           
 insurance companies including the Veterans Administration.  She has           
 had the experience of being turned down by insurance companies,               
 including a company that had certified her under their managed care           
 program, but would not certify her independently for clients who              
 use their insurance without the managed care which doesn't make               
 much sense to her.                                                            
                                                                               
 MS. PRIESS pointed out under section 47.17.020, the Alaska Child              
 Protection Statute, professionals who are required to report child            
 abuse include practitioners of the healing arts.  These                       
 professionals are defined in section 47.17.290 (13) as including              
 marital and family therapists.  In addition 47.24.010, the statute            
 that defines who is required to report abuse of elders and disabled           
 adults also includes marital and family therapists.                           
 Number 561                                                                    
                                                                               
  MS. MARIANNE BURKE,  Director, Division of Insurance, said this              
 particular section of the code has somehow mutated over time.  The            
 original intent, according to her reading of the enacting                     
 legislation, was the practice of unfair discrimination was to mean            
 unfairly discriminating against similar professions.  For example,            
 if you were an M.D. licensed to perform an appendectomy, an                   
 insurance company could pay one doctor and not another.                       
                                                                               
 MS. BURKE said regarding cost, that the services provided under an            
 insurance contract is a matter of a contractual arrangement.  You             
 contract to have particular services covered at a particular rate             
 or up to a particular cap.  As long as there's no expansion of                
 those services by adding another profession, it would not increase            
 the cost.  Her only concern is if a profession expanded the scope             
 of services that was provided under the contractual arrangement;              
 for example, expanding marital and family therapists to include               
 priests, rabbis, or ministers - all of whom provide counseling.               
 But this is a licensed group and she does not know their scope.               
 She understand that this is a credible group and has standards of             
 practice and conduct to which they adhere.                                    
                                                                               
 TAPE 97-16, SIDE B                                                            
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE asked her if she had problems with his proposed                
 amendment.  MS. BURKE replied the first portion, "unfair                      
 discrimination does not include requirements imposed by an insurer            
 for purposes of utilization review" is perfectly appropriate.  She            
 said cost containment is not inappropriate as long as it is not               
 used to dictate that you go to the cheapest available service in              
 town.                                                                         
                                                                               
  MR. JERRY REINWAND,  Blue Cross, said SB 122 raises an issue bigger          
 than just the issue of family and marital therapists.  The proposed           
 bill really talks about unfair discrimination and there is no                 
 statutory definition of what is unfair discrimination, nor is there           
 in regulation.  While the Division has been a tough, but fair                 
 regulator, the legislature is still leaving it up to them to apply            
 their own idea of what constitutes unfair discrimination.  They               
 support Senator Mackie's amendment, because it puts, by contract,             
 what terms and conditions would not constitute unfair                         
 discrimination which brings clarity to the issue.                             
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if he thought the legislature should define              
 unfair discrimination.  MR. REINWAND replied that discrimination is           
 an important issue and there have been cases in the past where                
 insurance companies have not always done the right thing regarding            
 discrimination.  He thought it would be in everyone's interest and            
 good public policy if you're going to say you can't do it, to                 
 define what it is.                                                            
                                                                               
  MS. LINDELL  clarified that any licensed group has within its                
 statutes that regulate the profession the scope of practice.  Under           
 marriage and family therapists it lists first of all the                      
 requirements in terms of formal education, specific courses that              
 are required, time of supervision, practicum experience, etc.  In             
 terms of what the practice means, that is also in the statute and             
 includes the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional                  
 disorders that are referenced in a standard diagnostic nomenclature           
 for marriage and family therapy, whether a cognitive affected                 
 behavior within the context of human relationships, particularly              
 marital and family systems.  They must also apply the understanding           
 of the dynamics.                                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN noted that some ministers may qualify, but probably            
 very few.  MS. LINDELL agreed.                                                
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt amendment #1.  There were no                    
 objections and it was so ordered.                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE moved to pass CSSB 122(L&C) from committee with                
 individual recommendations and $0 fiscal note.  There were no                 
 objections and it was so ordered.                                             
                                                                               
            HB  30 CIVIL LIABILITY FOR SKATEBOARDING                          
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced  HB 30  to be up for consideration.                
                                                                               
  MR. TIM SULLIVAN,  Staff to Representative Eldon Mulder, sponsor,            
 said HB 30 was requested by the Municipality of Anchorage. They and           
 several other municipalities would like to create skating and                 
 cycling parks so skaters and cyclers will have a place to ride                
 rather than using areas designed for pedestrians.  The                        
 municipalities are willing to develop these areas if they can be              
 insulated from liability for claims arising from claims inherent in           
 skating and cycling.                                                          
                                                                               
 MR. SULLIVAN said the intent of HB 30 is to encourage                         
 municipalities to proceed with development of various outdoor                 
 recreation without increasing their liability unnecessarily.  This            
 bill applies only to municipal skating and cycling parks.  It is              
 patterned after legislation passed providing this limited                     
 protection to ski areas.  This protection from liability relates to           
 inherent dangers and risks of skating and cycling.  Municipalities            
 are required to post signs warning of the inherent risks and that             
 the liability rests with the skater and cycler.                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY informed the committee that the sponsor came to him             
 with two amendments.  Number 1 on page 1, line 8 after "skating"              
 would delete "and" and insert "or".  Amendment number 2 on page 4,            
 line 31 would insert a new paragraph to read the facility "does not           
 include a trail used for skating or cycling."  In other words there           
 was some concern that the current definition or lack of definition            
 of facility would require the municipality of Anchorage and other             
 areas to put warning signs up on trails, like the Tony Knowles                
 Coastal Trail.                                                                
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE clarified that this amendment referred to only those           
 facilities that are built specifically for that.  MR. SULLIVAN                
 agreed.                                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY moved to adopt amendment 1.  There were no objections           
 and it was so ordered.                                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY moved to adopt amendment 2.  There were no objections           
 and it was so ordered.                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 460                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. SULLIVAN said there was another amendment, number 3, that they            
 support.  He said that several municipalities including Valdez,               
 Petersburg, Sitka, and Seward expressed the idea that they should             
 have the ability to determine what is needed to separate the                  
 facility from conflicting uses or hazardous conditions in this                
 situation.  On page 3, line 9 it would delete "with fencing or                
 another type of enclosing or surrounding structures."                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt amendment 3.  There were no                     
 objections and it was so ordered.                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE asked if there was a number of municipalities                  
 looking at this now.  MR. SULLIVAN said there were letters of                 
 support from a number of municipalities, including Anchorage,                 
 Kodiak, Kenai, Juneau, and Fairbanks.                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE asked to what degree was the liability a deterrent             
 to building the parks.  MR. SULLIVAN said he would prefer the AML             
 address that issue.                                                           
                                                                               
  MR. JAY SAUNDER AND MELISSA WALKER,  representing the Juneau Skate           
 Park Committee, testified before the committee.  MR. SAUNDER said             
 that it is very difficult and expensive to have someone to cover              
 the insurance of a skate park and this bill would greatly increase            
 the chances of a skate park happening for a large population of               
 youth skaters in Juneau.                                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE asked them if they knew if they go to this park and            
 are doing flips or whatever and break their arm, are they willing             
 to accept that responsibility or should their parents be allowed to           
 sue the CBJ.  MR. SAUNDERS replied that they understand and feel              
 that parents shouldn't be able to sue.                                        
                                                                               
  MR. KEVIN RITCHIE,  Alaska Municipal League, said they look at this          
 as another opportunity to provide services for our youth.  The                
 frustrating thing now is that kids can get hurt and in most cases             
 wouldn't have anyone to sue.  Municipalities are not barred from              
 doing this, but there is a big financial incentive for not putting            
 together a skateboard park because, even though it's safer, there's           
 a much greater risk of loss to the municipal government.  This bill           
 just does what ski areas do which is they say if we're negligent in           
 the ski area and you hurt yourself, it's our fault, but if the ski            
 area is well maintained, there are inherent dangers in skiing that            
 you have to accept.                                                           
                                                                               
 In Juneau there has been some negotiation with kids to use an                 
 approved facility rather than the street.  So it's a lot safer for            
 both pedestrians as well as the kids themselves.                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked if there was an approved facility in Juneau               
 now.  MR. RITCHIE replied that these young adults are currently               
 working on developing that facility.                                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE asked what it would cost for insurance now to have             
 a facility.  MR. RITCHIE replied there is a significant difference            
 in the liability.                                                             
                                                                               
  MR. KEVIN SMITH,  Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance                    
 Association, said the coverage for skateboard parks in general has            
 been excluded from most general liability policies available in the           
 State of Alaska.  Recently the Board of Trustees of JIA discussed             
 this idea and the needs of municipalities to deal with the issue of           
 getting kids off the streets and into some place.  So their                   
 association went ahead and included skateboarding as a covered                
 item.  This is largely in anticipation of passage of the bill and             
 largely just addressing the needs of the members since it's not               
 actually an insurance company per se.                                         
                                                                               
 MR. SMITH said that coverage is almost impossible to get now.  This           
 bill would help coverage become available at whatever cost.                   
                                                                               
  MS. NANCY ROBB,  Valdez Parks and Recreation, said the City of               
 Valdez is very supportive of HB 30 and the amendments that will               
 allow municipalities to delineate the boundaries.                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked if Valdez was currently planning a skateboard             
 park.  She replied that they currently have an in-line hockey rink            
 they constructed last year through some donations and this will               
 assist them with that.  In the past 30 days a number of youth have            
 expressed interest in developing a skateboard park.                           
  MR. BILL MUSSON,  Director, Petersburg Parks and Recreation,                 
 supported HB 30.  He said this issue is becoming increasingly                 
 important in many municipalities around the State in expanding                
 positive recreational opportunities for the youth of communities.             
 He also supported the amendments.                                             
                                                                               
 Number 347                                                                    
  MS. MARNIE ISAACS,  Municipality of Anchorage, said she is also the          
 parent of a skater.  She thanked them for considering this for the            
 kids and that resolutions have been passed by the Anchorage Youth             
 Commission and the Anchorage Assembly, and are currently pending              
 before the Anchorage Chamber and the Downtown Anchorage                       
 Association, in support of this legislation.                                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE moved to pass SCSHB 30(L&C) from committee with                
 individual recommendations and $0 fiscal note.  There were no                 
 objections and it was so ordered.                                             
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN adjourned the meeting at 2:55 p.m.                             
                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects