Legislature(1999 - 2000)

04/15/1999 03:32 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                                                                      
                    April 15, 1999                                                                                              
                      3:32 p.m.                                                                                                 
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                                 
Senator Jerry Ward, Chairman                                                                                                    
Senator Lyda Green                                                                                                              
Senator Gary Wilken                                                                                                             
Senator Randy Phillips                                                                                                          
Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                               
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                  
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                              
SENATE BILL NO. 119                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to absences from the state while serving on                                                                    
oceangoing vessels of the United States merchant marine for                                                                     
purposes of eligibility for permanent fund dividends; and providing                                                             
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
     -HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                            
REVIEW OF ALASKA PIONEERS' HOMES                                                                                                
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                
SB 119 - No previous Senate action.                                                                                             
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                                
Harold Holten                                                                                                                   
Seafarers International Union                                                                                                   
PO Box 192                                                                                                                      
Ketchikan, AK  99901                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 119                                                                                            
Mark Hodgins, Legislative Aide                                                                                                  
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented SB 119                                                                                           
Jay Tucker                                                                                                                      
3513 Creekside #2                                                                                                               
Anchorage, AK  99504                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 119                                                                                            
Eden Latta                                                                                                                      
6704 Lunar Dr                                                                                                                   
Anchorage, AK  99504                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 119                                                                                            
Rocky Latta                                                                                                                     
6704 Lunar Dr                                                                                                                   
Anchorage, AK  99504                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 119                                                                                            
Mark Tabbott                                                                                                                    
2511 Tidewater                                                                                                                  
Anchorage, AK  99515                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 119                                                                                            
Paul Fuhs                                                                                                                       
Sea-Land Services, Inc.                                                                                                         
10652 Porter Lane                                                                                                               
Juneau, AK  99801                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 119                                                                                            
Edward Burke, Legislative Aide                                                                                                  
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered question regarding an amendment to SB
Commissioner-Designee Robert Poe                                                                                                
PO Box 110200                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0200                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed Alaska Pioneers' Homes                                                                           
Mr. Jim Kohn, Director                                                                                                          
Division of Alaska Longevity Programs                                                                                           
Department of Administration                                                                                                    
PO Box 110211                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0211                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed Alaska Pioneers' Homes                                                                           
Mr. Dwight Becker, Program Coordinator                                                                                          
Division of Senior Services                                                                                                     
Department of Administration                                                                                                    
3601 C St., Ste. 310                                                                                                            
Anchorage, AK  99503-5984                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed Alaska Pioneers' Homes                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                                
TAPE 99-10, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 001                                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN WARD called the Senate State Affairs Committee to order at                                                             
3:32 p.m.  All members were present.  The first order of business                                                               
to come before the committee was SB 119.                                                                                        
                 SB 119-PFD ALLOWABLE ABSENCES                                                                                  
CHAIRMAN WARD informed committee members a companion bill to SB 119                                                             
was introduced in the House by Representative Jerry Sanders.                                                                    
MARK HODGINS, legislative staff to Senator Ward, sponsor of the                                                                 
measure, explained SB 119 will allow absences for otherwise                                                                     
qualified Alaskans, for the purpose of eligibility for permanent                                                                
fund dividends, serving under foreign or coastal articles of                                                                    
employment aboard an oceangoing vessel of the United States                                                                     
Merchant Marine.                                                                                                                
HAROLD HOLTEN, Seafarers International Union (SIU), made the                                                                    
following comments regarding SB 119.  The SIU opened an office in                                                               
Anchorage two years ago to recruit Alaskans to its apprenticeship                                                               
program in Maryland to give them an opportunity to obtain good                                                                  
paying jobs with benefits.  Those Alaskan merchant seamen are                                                                   
denied permanent fund dividend (PFD) checks even though they may                                                                
own homes and vote in Alaska, have Alaska drivers' licenses, and                                                                
intend to return and maintain Alaska residency.  Alaskan merchant                                                               
seamen cannot choose whether or not to sail in Alaska and even                                                                  
those who do sail in Alaskan waters have been denied PFDs.  Mr.                                                                 
Holten said he hates to see young people turn down a great career                                                               
opportunity because absences during periods of work will prevent                                                                
them from receiving a PFD.                                                                                                      
MR. HOLTEN estimated that SB 119 will affect no more than 200                                                                   
Alaska merchant seamen over a ten-year period.  He pointed out that                                                             
for the purpose of eligibility verification, the Coast Guard keeps                                                              
records of where and when merchant seamen are working on ships.                                                                 
Number 129                                                                                                                      
SENATOR PHILLIPS expressed concern that SB 119 will become a                                                                    
"Christmas tree" bill because many others will argue that they                                                                  
should receive PFDs while out of state for various reasons.                                                                     
MR. HOLTEN said the difference is that Alaskan merchant seamen                                                                  
travel by ship from Anchorage, spend one night in Tacoma while the                                                              
ship is being loaded, and return to Anchorage.  Also, all of their                                                              
family members receive PFDs.                                                                                                    
CHAIRMAN WARD took teleconference testimony.                                                                                    
Number 174                                                                                                                      
JOY TUCKER, testifying from Anchorage via teleconference, informed                                                              
committee members she is married to John O.Glen, a merchant seaman.                                                             
His work shift is four months on and two months off throughout the                                                              
year and he sails from Tacoma to Anchorage every seven days.                                                                    
Although he and his family reside in Alaska, he is the only member                                                              
of his family who does not receive a PFD.                                                                                       
EDEN LATTA, a merchant seaman and 10-year resident of Alaska,                                                                   
stated he spends all of his time and money in Alaska when he is not                                                             
at sea.  He noted he would be required to pay the Alaska State                                                                  
income tax if one existed, yet he is ineligible for a PFD.                                                                      
Number 222                                                                                                                      
ROCKY LATTA, father of Eden, stated the Seafarer's International                                                                
Union provides high-paying jobs for Alaskan youth at a time when                                                                
low paying service jobs are the order of the day.  While the                                                                    
unemployment rate is lower, the quality of service jobs is poor in                                                              
pay and benefits.  He questioned why Alaska blatantly discriminates                                                             
against seamen by denying resident seamen their PFDs.  A second                                                                 
bothersome issue is the response he received when he asked                                                                      
Permanent Fund Dividend Division employees why merchant seamen are                                                              
denied the PFD while military members stationed outside Alaska                                                                  
receive PFDs even though they do not intend to return to Alaska.                                                                
The response was that military members have no choice of where they                                                             
are stationed and they are placed in life threatening situations.                                                               
He noted military members are volunteers, and although they have no                                                             
choice of where they are sent once they enlist, neither do merchant                                                             
seamen.  He also pointed out the highest casualty incident rate in                                                              
World War II was for merchant seamen and that his son's ship                                                                    
carries cruise missiles while at sea.                                                                                           
MR. LATTA concluded by saying Representative Don Young started the                                                              
apprenticeship program for Alaskans because he saw it as a viable                                                               
Alaskan industry however the State of Alaska denies participants                                                                
the PFD.  PFD denial makes merchant seamen second class citizens in                                                             
their own state.                                                                                                                
Number 271                                                                                                                      
MARK TABBOTT, Vice President of Totem Motion Trailer Express for                                                                
Alaska, informed committee members his company has three vessels                                                                
that run between Tacoma and Anchorage and supply about 70 percent                                                               
of the groceries consumed in Alaska.  Both his company and the                                                                  
industry are committed to hiring Alaskans and bringing them into                                                                
the trade.  SB 119 will support the industry's effort to hire more                                                              
Alaskans.  He urged the committee's support.                                                                                    
Number 299                                                                                                                      
PAUL FUHS, representing Sealand Services, stated Sealand went along                                                             
with other Jones Act carriers to help provide this Alaska training                                                              
and hire program and believes it is ironic that participants are                                                                
denied their PFDs.  In regard to Senator Phillips concern about                                                                 
other groups with the same request, MR. FUHS said the sea time                                                                  
records of merchant seamen are documented by the U.S. Coast Guard                                                               
and are extremely accurate.  He believes seamen could easily                                                                    
provide that information when applying for a PFD.                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD noted Dwight Perkins, Department of Labor, was                                                                    
available to answer questions if need be, and that the Department                                                               
of Labor supports SB 119.                                                                                                       
Number 318                                                                                                                      
NANCI JONES, Director of the Permanent Fund Dividend Division,                                                                  
pointed out SB 119 creates a bright line meaning it specifically                                                                
allows only merchant seamen to leave the state on an allowable                                                                  
absence; it does not provide an allowance for family members to                                                                 
accompany a seaman out-of-state while working.  SB 119 also allows                                                              
Alaskans attending the apprenticeship program an additional 120 day                                                             
absence as other college students get.                                                                                          
SENATOR WILKEN asked Ms. Jones if SB 119 pertains to a person who                                                               
resides in Alaska but is absent from Alaska for more than 180 days                                                              
because of a job.  MS. JONES said that is correct.                                                                              
SENATOR WILKEN asked whether he would receive a PFD if he worked                                                                
for British Petroleum and was assigned to Kuwait for more than 180                                                              
days.  MS. JONES said he would not.                                                                                             
SENATOR WILKEN asked whether he would receive a PFD if he was an                                                                
Alaska teacher teaching in Australia for nine months. MS. JONES                                                                 
said he would not.                                                                                                              
SENATOR ELTON asked Ms. Jones if the companion bill on the House                                                                
side has been changed at all.  MS. JONES said it has not.  She                                                                  
pointed out the difference between SB 119 and its companion bill,                                                               
and other House legislation, is that the other legislation                                                                      
addresses employment absences in general.  SB 119 is specific to                                                                
merchant seamen.                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN WARD noted the general employment absence legislation Ms.                                                              
Jones was referring to was sponsored by Representative Cowdery.                                                                 
SENATOR ELTON moved the adoption of Amendment 1, which reads as                                                                 
     Page 1, line 2, following "marine":                                                                                        
     Insert "or while serving as a volunteer in the Peace Corps"                                                                
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               "(13) serving as a volunteer in the Peace Corps;"                                                                
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     Delete "(13)"                                                                                                              
     Insert "(14)"                                                                                                              
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     Delete "(1)-(13)"                                                                                                          
     Insert "(1)-(14)"                                                                                                          
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     Delete "(3)-(13)"                                                                                                          
     Insert "(3)-(14)"                                                                                                          
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     Delete "(1)-(13)"                                                                                                          
     Insert "(1)-(14)"                                                                                                          
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     Delete "(a)(1)-(13)"                                                                                                       
     Insert "(a)(1)-(14)"                                                                                                       
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     Insert "(a)(14)"                                                                                                           
CHAIRMAN WARD objected for the purpose of discussion.                                                                           
SENATOR ELTON explained Amendment 1 will return to statute the                                                                  
excused absence for Peace Corps volunteers.  The cost of providing                                                              
a permanent fund dividend to Alaskan Peace Corps volunteers is                                                                  
estimated at $39,000.  Peace Corps volunteers serve for 27 months.                                                              
Their living expenses are paid and they receive a lump sum payment                                                              
of $225 per month served upon discharge.  He wagered that more                                                                  
Peace Corps volunteers return to Alaska to reside than college                                                                  
students or military members and he noted the difference between                                                                
Peace Corps volunteers and military members is the tools they use.                                                              
SENATOR ELTON said it is not only egregious that Peace Corps                                                                    
volunteers do not receive their PFDs while serving for 27 months,                                                               
they also have to wait two to three years to re-establish                                                                       
Number 385                                                                                                                      
SENATOR PHILLIPS asked Eddie Burke, legislative aide to                                                                         
Representative Sanders, his opinion of Amendment 1.                                                                             
MR. BURKE replied this legislation was designed to apply to                                                                     
merchant seamen only.                                                                                                           
SENATOR WILKEN noted his support for Amendment 1 as he believes the                                                             
Legislature erred last year in removing Peace Corps volunteers from                                                             
PFD eligibility.                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN WARD maintained his objection to Amendment 1.  Amendment                                                               
1 was adopted with Senators Elton, Wilken, and Phillips voting                                                                  
"yea," and Senator Green and Chairman Ward voting "nay."                                                                        
CHAIRMAN WARD announced CSSB 119(STA) would be held in committee                                                                
until a later date.                                                                                                             
Number 424                                                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE, Department of Administration (DOA) and                                                               
JIM KOHN, Director of Alaska Longevity Programs, updated committee                                                              
members on issues involving Alaska's Pioneers' Homes.                                                                           
CHAIRMAN WARD interjected to inform committee members that Marty                                                                
Margeson, Kathy Emmons, Fran Purdy, Lisa Caress-Beau, Tyler                                                                     
Handley, Robin Johnson and Dwight Becker would be testifying via                                                                
COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE reviewed the three part plan he developed                                                             
to correct some of the concerns raised at previous meetings.                                                                    
First, he agreed to prepare a budget proposal for the next fiscal                                                               
year to expand the Pioneers' Homes to a dual model facility so that                                                             
the homes have some skilled nursing facility licensing abilities.                                                               
That proposal will also include a budget for a model without a                                                                  
skilled nursing facility license in case the Legislature chooses                                                                
that option.  Second, to correct medical administration errors to                                                               
ADRD clients at the Anchorage and Palmer Pioneers' Homes, the                                                                   
Anchorage and Palmer Pioneers' Homes are only allowing RNs and LPNs                                                             
to administer medications in ADRD and Comprehensive Care Units.                                                                 
Third, the creation and training of family councils at Pioneers'                                                                
Homes is underway.                                                                                                              
COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE informed committee members that John                                                                  
Vowell, Director of the Anchorage Pioneer Home, resigned recently.                                                              
Robin Johnson, Assistant Administrator at the Anchorage Pioneer                                                                 
Home for three years, is acting as the director.  In addition,                                                                  
Michelle Holloway has replaced Ms. Johnson as the Assistant                                                                     
COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE asked Mr. Kohn to address Ms. Margeson's                                                              
concerns about her rather raised at previous meetings: exercise,                                                                
activities, access to television, and acquiring a private room.                                                                 
MR. KOHN explained an exercise program has been developed for Ms.                                                               
Margeson's father and he is able to take a long walk at least three                                                             
times per day.  An orientation related to activities for patients                                                               
with dementia will be provided to new employees by the Alzheimers'                                                              
Association and that association will help develop new activity                                                                 
programs during the next few weeks.   The big-screen TV has been                                                                
returned to the ADRD unit and last, Mr. Margeson was moved into the                                                             
one available private room last week.                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE asked MR. KOHN to update committee                                                                    
members about DOA's connection with the Alzheimers' Association.                                                                
MR. KOHN indicated DOA's relationship with the Alzheimers'                                                                      
Association began about seven years ago and the relationship is a                                                               
good one.  The Alzheimers' Association helped develop programs in                                                               
the original ADRD unit.  The Alzheimers' Association has been part                                                              
of DOA's effort to provide training at the Pioneers' Homes for                                                                  
people in the community who care for family members with ADRD.                                                                  
COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE informed committee members he is                                                                      
committed to making the family council process as successful as                                                                 
possible.  A consultant from the Minnesota Advocacy Office for Long                                                             
Term Care will be available to visit from mid-May through the end                                                               
of June to provide guidance to family councils and Pioneers' Home                                                               
staff.  He noted the family councils have elected officers.                                                                     
MR. KOHN informed committee members a new policy has been                                                                       
established whereby Pioneer Home nursing staff will administer                                                                  
appropriately packaged nutritional supplements upon a physician's                                                               
order.  The resident and/or family members will be asked to sign an                                                             
informed consent.                                                                                                               
MR. KOHN explained he is working with the three assisted living                                                                 
coordinators employed at the Anchorage Pioneer Home so that                                                                     
residents, family members, and staff feel the assisted living                                                                   
coordinators are successful in their roles.                                                                                     
Number 530                                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN WARD thanked Commissioner-Designee Poe for diving into                                                                 
this issue quickly. He noted time will tell whether the resolutions                                                             
are effective, however family members are hopeful that progress is                                                              
taking place.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR ELTON asked what is considered a nutritional supplement.                                                                
MR. KOHN stated nutritional supplements can be defined as non-FDA                                                               
approved preparations that some physicians believe have positive                                                                
effects.   He added that one-half of all dollars spent on medical                                                               
care in the United States are spent on alternative medications and                                                              
SENATOR ELTON questioned whether requiring a doctor's order prior                                                               
to administering nutritional supplements will interfere with the                                                                
nutritionist's ability to prescribe special diets or dietary                                                                    
supplements, such as fiber.  MR. KOHN said it will not.                                                                         
Number 574                                                                                                                      
SENATOR WILKEN asked if all new employees will be required to take                                                              
the ADRD training offered by the Alzheimers' Association.  MR. KOHN                                                             
replied they will attend a two-day orientation seminar which                                                                    
includes some ADRD training.  He noted ADRD training is ongoing:                                                                
last summer 20 employees were sent to a workshop provided by the                                                                
National Alzheimers Association.  Those employees then provided                                                                 
training to their co-workers.                                                                                                   
SENATOR WILKEN also thanked Commissioner-Designee Poe, MR. KOHN,                                                                
and Deputy Commissioner Elgee for working on this project.                                                                      
TAPE 99-10                                                                                                                      
Side B                                                                                                                          
DWIGHT BECKER, Program Coordinator with the Division of Senior                                                                  
Services, DOA, informed committee members he has oversight                                                                      
responsibility for assisted living licensing and Adult Protective                                                               
Services (APS).                                                                                                                 
MR. BECKER explained the Division of Senior Services receives                                                                   
complaint reports from either the facility itself or from others                                                                
such as family or community members.  The reports are directed to                                                               
either the APS or a licensing unit, depending on the nature of the                                                              
complaint.  Any complaint involving a report of harm is directed to                                                             
APS.  If a victim is 60 years of age or older, and living in an                                                                 
assisted living home, the complaint is sent to the Office of the                                                                
Long Term Care Ombudsman (OLTCO) which conducts an investigation of                                                             
abuse.  The Division of Senior Services investigates any part of a                                                              
complaint related to licensing.  Licensing regulations require                                                                  
every assisted living home to make and keep a record of any                                                                     
emergency situations that occur in the facility.  Those records are                                                             
reviewed by the Division of Senior Services.  The Division advises                                                              
facilities to notify it of every report so that it can determine                                                                
whether further investigation is necessary.  He and Mr. Kohn have                                                               
agreed that all incident reports will be forwarded to APS                                                                       
regardless of whether the report appears to be appropriate for an                                                               
APS investigation.   That plan should alleviate family concerns                                                                 
about incident reports.                                                                                                         
MR. BECKER discussed the Division of Senior Services' resources                                                                 
available to investigate reports.  During the current fiscal year,                                                              
the Division has had 2 2/3 licensing workers available to take                                                                  
reports, conduct investigations, and file notices of violations.                                                                
At present, the Division has 3 2/3 licensing workers.  When a                                                                   
report involving a 60 year or older person at an assisted living                                                                
home is filed, OLTCO conducts its investigation and forwards its                                                                
report to the Division of Senior Services.  The Division then                                                                   
conducts any investigation it feels is necessary, files notices of                                                              
violation and takes licensing administrative action if appropriate.                                                             
If the complaint involves a person under 60 years of age, it is                                                                 
reviewed by the Division's licensing staff.  The Division's first                                                               
objective is to work with the facility to correct any problems if                                                               
at all possible.  If a problem recurs, or requires immediate                                                                    
action, a notice of violation is filed.                                                                                         
Number 484                                                                                                                      
SENATOR GREEN asked whether the Division reacts differently to                                                                  
complaints from Pioneers' Homes versus private homes.  MR. BECKER                                                               
said not in his opinion. He noted the expectation of cooperation                                                                
from the Pioneers' Homes might be higher.                                                                                       
SENATOR GREEN referred to Mr. Becker's statement that he and Mr.                                                                
Kohn will receive all incident reports, and asked about the                                                                     
Division's response time.  MR. BECKER said the response time will                                                               
depend on the nature of the report, but reports should be assigned                                                              
to a staff member within 24 hours of receipt.                                                                                   
Number 455                                                                                                                      
LISA CARESS-BEU testified via teleconference from Anchorage.  She                                                               
thanked Chairman Ward for holding committee hearings to review the                                                              
Pioneers' Home policies, and thanked Commissioner-Designee Poe for                                                              
the actions he has taken.  She asked Commissioner-Designee Poe                                                                  
whether he read the OLTCO report on the Pioneers' Homes dated                                                                   
October 19, 1998.  MS. CARESS-BEU asked committee members to review                                                             
the over-inflated fiscal note attached to SB 20.                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON thanked Ms. Caress-Beu for her comment on the fiscal                                                              
note to SB 20 and informed her that other agencies share her                                                                    
COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE stated he has not yet read the OLTCO                                                                  
Number 404                                                                                                                      
TYLER HANDLEY testified via teleconference from Kenai and asked why                                                             
doctors will be required to order nutritional supplements.                                                                      
MR. KOHN replied much is unknown about nutritional supplements at                                                               
this time, including their interactions with other medications.  He                                                             
believes it is important that the resident's physician be aware of                                                              
any type of bio-active substance taken by the resident.                                                                         
COMMISSIONER-DESIGNEE POE added the Board of Nursing requires that                                                              
physicians be involved when any type of medication is dispensed.                                                                
MR. HANDLEY questioned whether he will be required to purchase                                                                  
vitamins and minerals for his mother at the Pioneer Home pharmacy.                                                              
MR. KOHN replied the resident or family members will be expected to                                                             
supply their own nutritional supplements as few are available in                                                                
the pharmacy.  He added that another reason a physician's order is                                                              
required is to protect the nurses in their responsibility to                                                                    
administer nutritional supplements.                                                                                             
Number 319                                                                                                                      
ROSA NEWTON, Anchorage Pioneer Home resident, stated she was                                                                    
saddened to hear of John Vowell's resignation as she found him to                                                               
be very responsive to residents' needs.  Regarding reports of abuse                                                             
of dementia patients, she noted sometimes ADRD patients try to                                                                  
escape, which would be harmful to those patients.  When that                                                                    
occurs, staff try to coax patients back into the building but in                                                                
worst case scenarios residents must be restrained.  She stated she                                                              
does not understand how the staff behavior could be called abusive.                                                             
MS. NEWTON noted the staff has been very accommodating of her                                                                   
environment in relation to her multiple sclerosis.                                                                              
Number 255                                                                                                                      
There being no further testimony, CHAIRMAN WARD thanked all                                                                     
participants and adjourned the meeting at 4:50 p.m.                                                                             

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