Legislature(2017 - 2018)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/04/2017 09:00 AM FINANCE

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Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 31(FIN) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved HB 137 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 144                                                                                                            
     "An Act extending the termination date of the Board of                                                                     
     Veterinary Examiners; and providing for an effective                                                                       
9:09:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SAM KITO III, SPONSOR, read the sponsor                                                                          
     House  Bill 144  extends the  termination date  for the                                                                    
    Board of Veterinary Examiners until June 30, 2025.                                                                          
     Legislative Audit conducted their  review of this board                                                                    
     and  determined  that  "the board  is  serving  in  the                                                                    
     public's   interest   by  effectively   licensing   and                                                                    
     regulating  veterinarians  and veterinary  technicians.                                                                    
     The board  monitors licensees and works  to ensure only                                                                    
     qualified individuals practice.  Furthermore, the board                                                                    
     develops   and  adopts   regulations  to   improve  the                                                                    
     veterinarian and  veterinary technician  occupations in                                                                    
     Alaska. In  accordance with  AS 08.03.010(c)  (22), the                                                                    
     board is  scheduled to terminate  on June 30,  2017. We                                                                    
     recommend  that  the  legislature  extend  the  board's                                                                    
     termination date to June 30, 2025."                                                                                        
     The board  currently oversees 784 active  licensees and                                                                    
     is made  up of  five members.  State law  requires four                                                                    
     board  positions be  filled  by licensed  veterinarians                                                                    
     that have  been engaged  in the practice  of veterinary                                                                    
     medicine in the state for  at least five years prior to                                                                    
     appointment. The remaining position  is to be filled by                                                                    
     an individual from the general public.                                                                                     
     The continuation  of the Board of  Veterinary Examiners                                                                    
     is important to the health  and safety of Alaska's pets                                                                    
     and livestock.                                                                                                             
     Thank you for your support of House Bill 144.                                                                              
Representative Kito  reported that  an issue  regarding lack                                                                    
of rural  veterinary care was  identified in the  audit. The                                                                    
issue  was indirectly  related to  the board  and was  not a                                                                    
primary  function. He  indicated  that providing  veterinary                                                                    
care   in   rural   areas   was   fiscally   difficult   for                                                                    
veterinarians.  The  House   Labor  and  Commerce  Committee                                                                    
committed  to meet  during the  interim to  address possible                                                                    
options  and formulate  recommendations for  improving rural                                                                    
veterinary care. The  board sunset June 30,  2017 and needed                                                                    
approval to continue its licensing functions in the state.                                                                      
9:12:22 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wilson ascertained  that  the  board was  in                                                                    
arrears   for   $25.8   thousand   and   noted   the   audit                                                                    
recommendation to reduce fees.  She wondered how the deficit                                                                    
was  created. Representative  Kito  spoke  to the  bi-annual                                                                    
license  renewal cycle  affecting the  board's balance  each                                                                    
year.  The Department  of Commerce,  Community and  Economic                                                                    
Development  (DCCED)  were  required  to  review  a  board's                                                                    
accounting each  year and adjust  fees every other  year, or                                                                    
each   biennium,   to   keep   reserves   close   to   zero.                                                                    
Representative Wilson asked whether  increasing fees was one                                                                    
of  the audit  findings.  Representative  Kito deferred  the                                                                    
answer to the department.                                                                                                       
9:14:22 AM                                                                                                                    
KRIS  CURTIS,   LEGISLATIVE  AUDITOR,  ALASKA   DIVISION  OF                                                                    
LEGISLATIVE  AUDIT, summarized  the findings  of the  audit.                                                                    
She  reported that  "the board  is serving  in the  public's                                                                    
interest   by    effectively   licensing    and   regulating                                                                    
veterinarians  and veterinary  technicians" and  recommended                                                                    
the maximum allowable extension of  8 years. She referred to                                                                    
page 7 of the audit and cited the only recommendation:                                                                          
     "The board  chair should review  the annual  report for                                                                    
     accuracy  and completeness  before final  submission to                                                                    
     the  Department  of  Commerce, Community  and  Economic                                                                    
Ms.  Curtis indicated  that  the  department staff  examiner                                                                    
erroneously included  information from a different  board in                                                                    
the board's  annual report and  submitted the report  on the                                                                    
board's  behalf  without  review  by the  board  chair.  She                                                                    
referred to  a chart on page  5 of the audit  (copy on file)                                                                    
that depicted the  total licenses issued from  FY 13 through                                                                    
February 2016 and noted a  57 percent increase in licensees.                                                                    
She directed attention  to a chart on page  6 containing the                                                                    
schedule  of revenues  and expenditures  from FY  13 through                                                                    
February 29,  2016. She explained that  at the end of  FY 13                                                                    
the  board  was  running  a   surplus  of  $108.8  thousand,                                                                    
resulting  in a  fee  reduction. Conversely,  the board  was                                                                    
currently  running   a  deficit   of  $25.8   thousand.  She                                                                    
determined that "overall" the board was well-run.                                                                               
Representative Wilson asked about  a prior sunset audit that                                                                    
recommended  the  governor  fill  vacant board  seats  in  a                                                                    
timely manner.  Ms. Curtis responded that  Legislative Audit                                                                    
did not discover any extended vacancies.                                                                                        
Co-Chair  Foster  noted  that  Co-Chair  Seaton  joined  the                                                                    
Representative   Wilson  requested   an   answer  from   the                                                                    
department  about how  the deficit  was  being handled.  She                                                                    
thought  that the  significant increase  in licensees  would                                                                    
result in a surplus rather than a deficit.                                                                                      
9:18:07 AM                                                                                                                    
JANEY   HOVENDEN,   DIRECTOR,  DIVISION   OF   CORPORATIONS,                                                                    
BUSINESS   AND   PROFESSIONAL   LICENSING,   DEPARTMENT   OF                                                                    
COMMERCE, COMMUNITY AND  ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, reported that                                                                    
fees  were  substantially  increased for  the  last  renewal                                                                    
period. The  veterinary license fees increased  from $300 to                                                                    
$500  and the  fees for  technicians increased  from $50  to                                                                    
$100.  The current  FY 17  second quarter  report ending  on                                                                    
December 13, 2017 reported a surplus of $25.3 thousand.                                                                         
Co-Chair  Foster noted  that Representative  Coleen Sullivan                                                                    
Leonard, Representative Kito  and Representative Claman were                                                                    
9:19:19 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster OPEND Public Testimony for HB 144.                                                                              
9:19:41 AM                                                                                                                    
RACHEL BERGNGARTT,  DOCTOR OF  VETRINARY MEDICINE  AND BOARD                                                                    
MEMBER,  related  that  the  board  engaged  in  "extensive"                                                                    
discussions over the  past year on ways  to improve services                                                                    
and remedy the budgetary  issues. She reminded the committee                                                                    
that  the   board  existed  to  license   veterinarians  and                                                                    
technicians  and  not  dictate  where  licensees  needed  to                                                                    
practice.  She  voiced  that options  for  rural  veterinary                                                                    
services existed. She  pointed out that the  board's job was                                                                    
to  enable  licensees to  practice  in  the areas  of  their                                                                    
choosing  and the  board never  denied a  license to  anyone                                                                    
appropriately  qualified  regardless  of what  area  of  the                                                                    
state they worked in. The  board did not track where Alaskan                                                                    
veterinarians practiced. She  communicated that private non-                                                                    
profits  like  the  The  Alaska  Veterinary  Rural  Outreach                                                                    
offered  spay, neuter,  and well  pet services  in over  200                                                                    
Alaskan communities. She furthered  that the board offered a                                                                    
courtesy   license   for  out-of-state   veterinarians   for                                                                    
approximately $75  to veterinarians who travel  to Alaska to                                                                    
assist  Alaskan  veterinarians  on a  temporary  basis.  She                                                                    
indicated  there  were  over 30  out-of-state  veterinarians                                                                    
that helped with the Iditarod.                                                                                                  
9:24:24 AM                                                                                                                    
ERIC   JAYNE,   DOCTOR    OF   VETERINARIAN,   HAWAII   (via                                                                    
teleconference), asserted  that the  board had  attempted to                                                                    
control  veterinary services  in  rural  Alaska through  the                                                                    
provisions  that allowed  non-profit groups  to work  in the                                                                    
state. He communicated  that the board offered  two types of                                                                    
temporary licenses  that allowed  out-of-state veterinarians                                                                    
to practice  in Alaska. One  type, good  for a period  of 60                                                                    
days,  was  called  "a temporary  permit"  used  for  relief                                                                    
veterinarians.  The temporary  permit was  offered at  a low                                                                    
cost, easy  to apply  for, did  not require  board approval,                                                                    
and did  not limit the  scope of  practice. The other  was a                                                                    
"special  event courtesy  license." He  maintained that  the                                                                    
board inserted  a provision that allowed  veterinarians from                                                                    
non-profit spay  neuter groups from out-of-state  to perform                                                                    
services  in  communities  off the  road  system  under  the                                                                    
license. He  contended that  the courtesy  licensing process                                                                    
was  very   arduous,  and  he   discovered  that   only  two                                                                    
veterinarians applied for the  license. He reported that the                                                                    
fee was  large, the license  was subject to  board approval,                                                                    
and limited to  only spay and neuter  services. He currently                                                                    
worked for  8 spay-neuter clinics. He  ascertained that many                                                                    
other veterinarians from  out-of-state would volunteer their                                                                    
services  in  rural Alaska  if  they  felt welcomed  by  the                                                                    
board.  He  believed  the   board's  special  event  license                                                                    
provisions  inhibited non-profits  from  operating in  rural                                                                    
Alaska and  that the board  wanted to protect  the financial                                                                    
interest of Alaskan veterinarians.  He also pointed out that                                                                    
the  cost  for  the  lack   of  rural  veterinary  care  was                                                                    
"tremendous"  and "spent  unnecessarily."  He  cited that  7                                                                    
children  were  mauled to  death  since  1994 in  the  Yukon                                                                    
Kuskokwim Delta.  He spoke  of hundreds  of bite  wounds and                                                                    
the  associated  costs  that  were  treated  using  Medicaid                                                                    
dollars.  He maintained  that there  were several  different                                                                    
policy  changes the  board could  implement to  mitigate the                                                                    
problem.  He  recommended allowing  a  rural  member on  the                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster CLOSED Public Testimony.                                                                                        
Co-Chair  Foster  indicated  that  amendments  were  due  on                                                                    
Friday, April 7, 2017.                                                                                                          
HB  144  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB144 Legislative Audit.pdf HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 144
HB144 Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 144
HB144 Supporting Letters 032817.pdf HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 144
HB146 Opposing Documents 3.27.17.pdf HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 146
HB146 Opposing Document 3.27.17.PDF HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 146
HB146 Sectional Analysis ver O 3.27.17.pdf HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 146
HB146 Supporting Documents 3.27.17.pdf HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 146
HB146 Sponsor Statement 3.27.17.pdf HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 146
HB 31 Amendment 1.PDF HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 31
Testimony Jayne HB 144 April 3.pdf HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 144
HB31 - Supporting (040617).pdf HFIN 4/4/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 31