What Passed the Senate – April 20-23

Senator Cathy Giessel sent out a series of detailed emails this week listing, describing and linking to what was passed by the Senate April 20-23. Her emails were very informative, so I am passing along the content she provided.

Also, as an update to the April 22 section on HB 278 (concerning education), the Senate Majority released a press release April 24 describing the tentative agreement reached by the Senate & House Joint Conference Committee.

It is important we provide feedback to our elected officials in Juneau – regardless of party! Follow these links to look up the contact information for members of the House and Senate.

And, of course… Thank you, Senator Giessel, for keeping Alaskans informed!


April 20 (Senate Floor Session)

HB 121 COMMERCIAL FISHING & AGRICULTURE BANK
HB 140 REGULATIONS: NOTICE, REVIEW, COMMENT
HB 141 WORKERS’ COMPENSATION MEDICAL FEES
HB 206 MOTOR VEHICLE SERVICE CONTRACTS
HB 263 EXTEND SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM
HB 287 OIL ROYALTIES; TAX CREDIT
HB 216 OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF THE STATE
HB 266 CAPITAL BUDGET
HCR 22 IN-STATE REFINERIES; TAPS QUALITY BANK

HB 121 expands the types of loans given by Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank (CFAB) by including commercial tourism and natural resource industries. CFAB is a privately-owned and – operated institution and self funded. The bill removes maximum loan amounts made to individuals or businesses seeking tourism and natural resource loans. The bill expands the category of borrower to include non-resident owned businesses whose facilities are located in Alaska and employ Alaskans. Under this if you bring infrastructure into Alaska we will offer funding options. The bill expands the eligibility of the small loan program to include loans made for commercial agriculture. I am a cosponsor of the bill.

HB 140 requires that regulation notices include information about estimated costs of the regulations that may affect private individuals and businesses, other state agencies and local governments. The bill requires that when the federal government is the reason for the regulation, the exact federal law, executive order or decision be identified in the notice in order for Alaskans to better understand government actions that affect their businesses and lives. I have concern about the added cost to the regulatory boards and licensees for this added work. Cost estimates for the bill are $1 million. I will be watching the cost impacts.

HB 141 defines rates for workers compensation procedures performed out of state. Rates of reimbursement for procedures performed out of Alaska are to be reimbursed under the workers compensation statutes of the state where the procedure was performed. Currently, if an injured worker has a procedure performed in another state, the provider could bill at the Alaska rates which are the highest in the nation.

HB 206 provides clear regulatory certainty and increased uniformity for motor vehicle service contract programs. Alaska’s Division of Insurance will have regulatory oversight to ensure that Alaskan consumers are treated uniformly with other state consumers when purchasing a motor vehicle service contract.

HB 263 would extend the Alaska Senior Benefits Program to June 30, 2021. The Senior Benefits Program, established on August 1, 2007, provides monthly cash assistance to state residents age 65 years or older, who have low to moderate income level. I am a cross-sponsor on the bill.

HB 287 gives legislative approval to extend the contract with Tesoro for an additional year using identical terms that would deliver royalty oil to their Kenai facility until January of 2016. The bill provides a tax credit for “qualified infrastructure expenditures” by in-state refineries who have expended $125 million on infrastructure during a tax year. The credit created by the bill is refundable, and can only be applied against corporate income taxes for a period of 5 years to January 1, 2020.

HB 216 allows for 20 different Alaska Native languages to become official languages of the state of Alaska. The designation of languages other than English as official languages of the state does not require the government to print documents and records or conduct meetings, assemblies, or other government activities in any other language than English.

SB 138 received concurrence for the house committee substitute bringing Alaska one step closer to a gas pipe line. The project will now move into the Pre-Front End Engineering and Design (Pre-FEED) phase to further refine the cost and engineering aspects of the project. Senate Bill 138 affirms the commercial agreement signed by the state, the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), the producers, and TransCanada to advance the Alaska LNG Project. This bill has strong bipartisan support, with 52 in favor and just 8 opposed.

HCR 22 urges the governor to take all action necessary to keep in­-state oil refiners in operation and to keep oil refining operations in the state competitive.

HB 266 received concurrence from the Senate and the operating budget bill is on its way to the Governor. State agencies appropriations’ were reduced by $51.4 million. In the past the operating budget has grown by 7% this year that growth was held to 2.2%.

The bills below were passed by the Senate and moved to the House where changes were made. The bills were then returned to the Senate for concurrence. The Senate concurred and the bills have been transmitted to the Governor.

SB 187 CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION: MISCONDUCT, RLS
SB 193 CONTRACTORS: BONDS; LICENSING
SB 71 PAYMENT OF FISHERY RESOURCE LANDING TAX
SB 195 POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION LOANS/GRANTS
SB 157 FIRE PROTECTION SERVICE AREAS
SB 171 MULTIDISCIPLINARY CHILD PROTECTION TEAMS
SB 218 MUNI BOND BANK; UAF HEAT & PWR PLANT

April 21 (Senate Floor Sessions: 1, 2 & 3)

HB 19 PERMANENT MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION/TRAILERS
HB 169 RCA REGULATION OF TELEPHONE DIRECTORIES
HB 268 BIG BULL MOOSE DERBIES; SNOW TOWN ICE CLASSIC
HB 143 COMMERCIAL FISHING CREW MEMBER LICENSES
HB 282 LANDLORD AND TENANT ACT

HB 19 establishes permission for local governments to create a new type of registration available through the Division of Motor Vehicles. The bill allows for the permanent registration of personal-use motor vehicles and non-commercial trailers eight years old and older. There will be a one-time $25 fee plus the regular registration fee for eligible personal-use vehicles or non-commercial trailers. The permanent registration remains in effect until ownership of the vehicle or trailer changes.

HB 143 fixes a loophole in state law relating to temporary commercial fishing crew member licenses. The 7-day license was created by the Legislature as a way for tourists to experience commercial fishing in Alaska. The state has seen decreases in license receipt revenue for crew member licenses. Fishing crew members will need to purchase the proper annual license and will be unable to purchase numerous short-term licenses intended for tourists.

HB 169 eliminates the regulation and production of telephone directories by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and allows telecommunication providers to directly meet the wants and needs of their customers without burdensome requirements to distribute increasingly incomplete and obsolete phone directories.

HB 268 allows the Tanana Valley Sportsmen Association and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks Rifle team to raise funds for their organizations by selling Big Bull Moose Derby tickets similar to the halibut and salmon derbies. The Snow Town Ice Classic was added to the bill by the House Resources Committee to benefit the Advocates for Victims of Violence, Inc. The Snow Town Ice Classic will be added to the list of approved ice classic games.

HB 282 updates the Landlord Tenant Act to include new circumstances, technologies and laws.

The bill incorporates changes to protect the tenant without being burdensome to landlords. Changes in the bill include:

  • Allow landlords to include a separate pet deposit
  • Add a suitable definition of “normal wear and tear”
  • Require landlords to maintain separate accounting of security deposits
  • Allow landlords up to 30-days to refund damage deposit
  • Require the tenant and landlord verify the condition of property upon possession
  • Define “service animals” versus “comfort animals” and pets
  • Permit rental of dry cabins
  • Allow landlords to restrict the number of persons in a dwelling
  • Allow eviction of tenants for illegal activities
  • Allow landlords to require tenants professionally clean carpets before departing
  • Permit landlords to garnish a tenant’s PFD for unpaid rent or damages

Senator Giessel Carries HB 282 on the Senate Floor

The Senate concurred with House changes to SB 108 and the bill has been transmitted to the Governor.

SB 108 Confidentiality of Criminal Case Records

April 22 (Senate Floor Session)

SB 64 OMNIBUS CRIME/CORRECTIONS/RECIDIVISM

We were in session briefly [April 22] and our only business was the concurrence on SB 64, which is explained below. The House and the Senate are busy working on the education bill, HB 278.

A conference committee was appointed on April 21. The Conference Committee members are Senator Meyer (Chair), Senator Dunleavy, Senator Hoffman, Representative Hawker (Chair), Representative Gattis, and Representative Kito III. The committee has met several times working their way through the items under debate and asking question of the Department of Early Education and Development. Members are tasked with developing a bill that will be acceptable to both the House and the Senate.

I have been watching the conference committee closely because education is extremely important to all of us. The major concern is funding. Both sides are in agreement about raising the funding for our school but the issue is how much. I agree we need to increase funding for our schools.

Conference Committee Meeting 10:00 am April 22, 2014
Conference committee Meeting 2:00 pm April 22, 2014
Conference Committee Documents 1
Conference Committee Documents 2

Concurrence by Senate on House Amendments to SB 64

SB 64 establishes the Alaska Sentencing Commission which will be responsible for reviewing, analyzing and evaluating the effectiveness of sentencing laws and the practices of the criminal justice system.

The bill also focuses on court-ordered treatment programs and limited licenses. A misdemeanant offender may obtain a limited license provided they qualify for the treatment program after entering a plea of “guilty ” or “no contest”. During the time they drive on the limited license, they shall be required to complete treatment pursuant to the direction of their assigned judge. For felony offenders, the process is longer; however, it still provides felons incentive to seek treatment. The revocation for their regular license shall be terminated in 5 years, provided they safely drive on their limited license during that period and do not re-offend.

Among other provisions, the legislation includes combat-related PTSD as a mitigating factor for veterans, twice-a-day alcohol monitoring for certain offenders on probation and parole. It creates a program to apply swift and certain sanctions for probation and parole violations. SB 64 creates a recidivism reduction program to fund re-entry services and raises the felony theft threshold. Finally, it allows for certain offenders to receive credit for time served in a residential treatment facility, and expanded risk assessments for inmates. I was a Yes vote on this bill.

April 23 (Senate Floor Session)

HB 306 EVAL. INDIRECT EXPENDITURES; TAX CREDITS
HB 316 WORKERS’ COMPENSATION MEDICAL FEES
HB 361 LICENSING OF BEHAVIOR ANALYSTS
HB 366 INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT; FIREARMS

HB 306 requires that before the start of the first regular session of each new Legislature, the Department of Revenue will provide to the chairs of the Finance Committees, and the Legislative Finance Division, a report on indirect expenditures. An “indirect expenditure” is defined in HB 306 as a credit, exemption, deduction, deferral, discount, exclusion, or other differential allowance designed to encourage an activity to benefit the public by forgoing revenue to the state. An example would be the credits used against state corporate taxes. Under this bill, Legislative Finance will issue a report to the legislature which will include: an estimate of forgone revenues due to the indirect expenditures, an estimate of monetary benefits, whether the legislative intent of the statute is being met, a recommendation as to continuance of the indirect expenditure, its economic effect, and an explanation of the methodology used in preparing the report. Tax credit sunset reviews have been instituted in order for the Department of Revenue to perform subsequent reviews every six years. In addition, the bill requires that each capital project without action within a five-year period will lapse, if its ongoing existence is not justified for re-appropriation. I voted yes on this bill and signed on as a cross-sponsor.

HB 316 changes the basis for the fee schedule from what physicians charge in a geographic area, to what it costs physicians to perform medical procedures. I have two constituents that sit on the Alaska Worker’s Compensation Board and they have repeatedly said costs are being driven up by excessive reimbursement rates, especially for services out-of-state. Patients who go out-of-state for treatment are being charged by their physicians as if the treatment had taken place in Alaska. We all know that Alaska has one of the highest medical costs in the nation. The Workers’ Compensation Board, under the advisement of the Medical Services Review Committee, will establish a conversion factor, and a geographic adjustment factor for the fee schedules. The Board will also set reimbursement rates for air ambulance services, and the markup rates for prescription drugs and durable medical equipment. This bill has support by labor unions and employers. I was a Yes vote on this bill.

HB 361 allows nationally recognized qualification of Board-Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA or BCaBA) credentials to be licensed in Alaska by the Division of Professional Licensing, in the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. Scientific, peer-reviewed studies have shown that early intensive treatment in the form of Applied Behavioral Analysis offers the best opportunity to help people with autism improve their ability to function productively in society. By ensuring licensing and higher standards of practice for BCBAs and BCaBAs, HB 361 will provide better outcomes for Alaska children with autism and improve the quality of life for hundreds of Alaskans and their families. I was a Yes vote on this bill.

HB 366 requires the court to transmit involuntary commitments, adjudications of mental illness or mental incompetency to the Department of Public Safety. The department will then transmit the information to the United States Department of Justice for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. I was a Yes vote on this bill.


The above information was provided by Senator Cathy Giessel. For more information from the Alaska Senate Majority, visit alaskasenate.org.

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