Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/24/2004 03:06 PM House HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 394-COMMISSION ON AGING                                                                                                    
Number 0050                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WILSON announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 394, "An  Act extending the Alaska  Commission on                                                               
Number 0092                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  moved to  adopt  CS  HB 394,  23-LS1534\D,                                                               
Mischel,  2/19/04,  as the  working  document.   There  being  no                                                               
objection,  HB  394,  version  D,  was  adopted  as  the  working                                                               
document before  the House Health, Education  and Social Services                                                               
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             
Number 0155                                                                                                                     
BARBARA COTTING,  Staff to Representative Jim  Holm, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  presented  the  bill on  behalf  of  Representative                                                               
Holm,  sponsor of  HB  394.   She  explained  that the  committee                                                               
substitute that the members just  adopted as the working document                                                               
adds sections  2 and 3 to  the original bill.   The original bill                                                               
was very short because it  consisted of one section that extended                                                               
the sunset [of the Alaska Commission on Aging].                                                                                 
MS. COTTING  explained that  in 2003,  Executive Order  108 moved                                                               
many commissions  to different departments.   It is  important to                                                               
note that  at that time  the Commission  on Aging was  moved from                                                               
the Department of Administration to  the Department of Health and                                                               
Social  Services.    Legislative   Legal  and  Research  Services                                                               
believes that it  is important to clarify that point  and that is                                                               
the  purpose of  sections  2 and  3,  she  said.   It  is just  a                                                               
housekeeping measure.                                                                                                           
Number 0260                                                                                                                     
STEVE  ASHMAN,  Director,  Division   of  Senior  and  Disability                                                               
Services, Department of Health and  Social Services, testified in                                                               
support of  HB 394 and answered  questions from the members.   He                                                               
explained that the division administers  grant programs under the                                                               
Older Americans Act.   These programs used to  be administered by                                                               
the  Commission  on Aging,  he  added.    The division  has  been                                                               
working  very  closely  with  the  Commission  on  Aging  as  the                                                               
reorganization progresses, Mr. Ashman  stated.  He explained that                                                               
since  the Alaska  Commission on  Aging was  created in  the late                                                               
1970s,  it has  done a  great  job of  meeting the  needs of  the                                                               
elderly, and [the administration] supports its continuation.                                                                    
Number 0302                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL commented  that he  read the  legislative                                                               
audit report  [on the Alaska  Commission on Aging,  dated October                                                               
1,  2003] which  was done  before the  commission was  moved from                                                               
[the  Department of  Administration to  the Department  of Health                                                               
and Social  Services].   Representative Coghill  said that  he is                                                               
concerned with the  grant making process and asked  Mr. Ashman to                                                               
explain the  changes that  have been  made to  that process.   He                                                               
told the  committee that he  had the  auditor come to  his office                                                               
and discuss  the report with  him.  Representative  Coghill noted                                                               
that the  auditor is at  the meeting  today should there  be need                                                               
for clarification.                                                                                                              
Number 0372                                                                                                                     
MR. ASHMAN  replied that he has  also read the audit  report.  He                                                               
said  he believes  the problems  that  Representative Coghill  is                                                               
referring to occurred  in fiscal year 2002, when  the program was                                                               
over  at the  Division of  Senior Services  in the  Department of                                                               
Administration.    The  first  problem  pertains  to  the  Senior                                                               
Employment  Program, [which  was authorized]  under federal  law.                                                               
The  program  was supposed  to  be  providing temporary  training                                                               
services  to older  Alaskans, 55  years old  or older,  to enable                                                               
them to reenter  the workforce, he said.   However, what happened                                                               
was that many of the grantees  were using those employees to fill                                                               
long-term positions  within its  organizations.   This [practice]                                                               
was  clearly  against  federal   legislation,  he  stated.    The                                                               
division has  changed that practice,  although some  latitude has                                                               
been extended in rural areas where  there is a lack of employment                                                               
opportunities.    Mr.  Ashman  commented  that  approximately  80                                                               
percent  of  the  seniors  [in this  program]  are  [moving  from                                                               
training to employment] within six  months, which means the state                                                               
is now  in compliance with  federal laws.   There are  still some                                                               
grantees  that are  administering the  program, he  acknowledged;                                                               
but assured the committee that the  division is keeping an eye on                                                               
Number 0501                                                                                                                     
MR. ASHMAN said he believes  another problem the report cited was                                                               
the lack  of reporting to  ensure that  the use of  federal funds                                                               
was  in  compliance  with  federal   program  requirements.    He                                                               
commented that the issue was the  lack of on-site audits.  A plan                                                               
was put  together two years ago  to focus on those  two areas and                                                               
he told the members that he believes the division is on target.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  Mr. Ashman  to confirm  that [$13]                                                               
million in  federal funds are administered  through this program.                                                               
He asked what portion of those funds are general funds dollars.                                                                 
Number 0574                                                                                                                     
MR. ASHMAN replied  that historically the state's  match is about                                                               
24 percent  in general funds.   The minimum match  requirement is                                                               
15 percent.   He pointed out  that in the division's  budget this                                                               
fiscal  year  there  is  a $200,000  reduction  in  general  fund                                                               
contributions because grantees  will be asked to  pay 10 percent.                                                               
Mr. Ashman  explained that  currently between  95 percent  and 98                                                               
percent of  the grantees do  have a 10  percent cash match.   The                                                               
state picks up  15 percent and the federal  government covers the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  if  the movement  of the  division                                                               
from one department to another has changed its mission.                                                                         
MR. ASHMAN responded that there is  no change [in the mission] of                                                               
the  Alaska   Commission  on  Aging   because  the   mission  was                                                               
established  under  the Older  Americans  Act  which created  the                                                               
Commission  on Aging,  formerly  the  Older Alaskans  Commission.                                                               
The only change  that has occurred in this  reorganization is the                                                               
removal of  grant making  ability from  the Alaska  Commission on                                                               
Aging and  transferring those  duties to  the Division  of Senior                                                               
and Disability  Services.   The Department  of Health  and Social                                                               
Services has some  very well defined procedures in  how the grant                                                               
process works,  whereas the Department of  Administration did not                                                               
have that type of process in place, he added.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  asked  if  there will  be  a  change  in                                                               
MR. ASHMAN explained that while  the Commission on Aging will not                                                               
be  making  any  grants,  the  state plan  is  developed  by  the                                                               
Executive  Director  of the  Commission  on  Aging, and  then  is                                                               
presented  in a  series of  public meetings.   The  Commission on                                                               
Aging  finalizes the  plan and  presents it  to the  governor for                                                               
approval.  In that plan  is the intra-state funding formula which                                                               
says  how  the  funds  will  be  distributed  statewide,  so  the                                                               
commission  is  key  in  that  respect,  he  said.    Mr.  Ashman                                                               
emphasized  that  the  commission  will  not  be  [awarding]  any                                                               
grants.   The division will  work with the commission  closely to                                                               
ensure that  the grants are  being managed consistently  with the                                                               
desires of the Commission on Aging and the state plan, he added.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL  commented   that  he   misunderstood  a                                                               
commission  member's   testimony  in  the  House   State  Affairs                                                               
Standing Committee [on  that point].  He asked  if the commission                                                               
members look at allocation parameters.                                                                                          
MR.  ASHMAN responded  that the  commission members  look at  the                                                               
intra-state funding formula  that is included in  the state plan,                                                               
and which identifies the priorities  and areas where funding will                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  asked if the commission  members are made                                                               
up of regional representatives or are the members appointees.                                                                   
Number 0784                                                                                                                     
MR. ASHMAN responded that according  to Alaska law the commission                                                               
members  are   appointed  by  the  governor.     No  geographical                                                               
representation is required, he added.   However, over the past 15                                                               
years  that he  has been  associated with  the commission,  there                                                               
have always  been representatives from  both the rural  and urban                                                               
areas  of  Alaska.    One requirement  for  appointment  is  that                                                               
members  must  be  a  user  of services  either  under  the  home                                                               
community-based Older Americans Act  programs and/or the Medicaid                                                               
programs.   In  summary,  he said  there  is good  representation                                                               
Number 0833                                                                                                                     
MS. COTTING  directed the  members' attention  to the  handout in                                                               
the members'  packets from the  Office of Boards  and Commissions                                                               
which highlights the  requirements of members.  She  said part of                                                               
those requirements read as follows:                                                                                             
     Appointments shall be made to assure representation of                                                                     
      low-income and minorities and rural/urban areas and                                                                       
     statewide geographical representation.                                                                                     
MS. COTTING stated that the  requirements are well defined in the                                                               
Boards and Commission statute.                                                                                                  
CHAIR  WILSON referred  to the  Legislative  Audit report  [dated                                                               
October 1, 2003, page 17, paragraph two] which read:                                                                            
       We continue to recommend the agency establish and                                                                        
       follow procedures to ensure that costs reported by                                                                       
     subrecipients comply with federal requirements ...                                                                         
CHAIR WILSON  said one point that  was noted [in the  report] was                                                               
that there  was a lack  of periodic site  visits.  She  asked Mr.                                                               
Ashman what  specific steps he  has taken to ensure  that concern                                                               
is being addressed.                                                                                                             
Number 0915                                                                                                                     
MR. ASHMAN responded  that under the corrected  plan the division                                                               
put together,  desk audits are being  done.  He noted  it was not                                                               
being done  before.  He  agreed that  the last two  audit reports                                                               
cited the lack of periodic site  visits as a problem.  Mr. Ashman                                                               
explained  that there  are 78  grantees  and the  division has  a                                                               
staff of  3, so it is  not physically or financially  possible to                                                               
visit every grantee  every year.  The visits are  being done on a                                                               
rotation basis; however, desk audits  are being done [regularly].                                                               
He told the members that  whenever someone else from the Division                                                               
of Senior and  Disability Services happens to be  in a particular                                                               
community,  the  division  is  making  an  effort  to  visit  the                                                               
grantees while there.  There may not  be a review of the books at                                                               
that time, he  commented.  Mr. Ashman emphasized  that there have                                                               
been increased audits over what was done in previous years.                                                                     
Number 0963                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WILSON  commented that there  have been  several statements                                                               
made that in  the grant process there was a  bias in the awarding                                                               
of grants.  She asked Mr. Ashman to address those [charges].                                                                    
MR. ASHMAN  explained that in  FY 04 and FY  05 a new  state plan                                                               
needed to  be developed.   Part of  that plan is  the intra-state                                                               
funding  formula  which is  based  on  census information.    The                                                               
previous census  information and plans  were based upon  the 1990                                                               
census.  When the new census  came out there was a redistribution                                                               
of  [funding  based  on]  senior   citizen  [populations].    For                                                               
instance, there may  have been a higher growth of  seniors in one                                                               
region  over  another region,  so  the  funding formula  changed.                                                               
There  were winners  and losers  financially.   He surmised  that                                                               
there could have  been some grantees who had  been receiving more                                                               
funding under  the 1990  census, but then  lost funding  with the                                                               
new  census report.   Mr.  Ashman emphasized  that the  number of                                                               
seniors  has increased  in all  areas.   The Commission  on Aging                                                               
requested that rather than having  communities take the whole hit                                                               
in one year,  it was requested that the  federal government allow                                                               
a phase-in  of that  [redistribution in a]  three-year plan.   He                                                               
summarized that  he does not  believe the grantees had  a problem                                                               
with the process,  but rather with [the way  the census impacted]                                                               
the outcome.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  asked Mr. Ashman  if he could confidently  tell her                                                               
that there will be improvement.                                                                                                 
MR. ASHMAN assured Chair Wilson that there will be improvement.                                                                 
Number 1097                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  told Mr.  Ashman that an  hour or  two ago                                                               
she listened to  seniors who had teleconferenced in  to a meeting                                                               
from ten or  more communities.  She was told  that Alaska has the                                                               
second  fastest growing  aging population  in the  United States,                                                               
second to Nevada.   Seniors now make up something  like 6 percent                                                               
of  the population,  she said.   Representative  Cissna commented                                                               
that  in not  many  years it  will  grow to  12  percent.   These                                                               
seniors  told of  the gaps  in  services for  conditions such  as                                                               
Alzheimer's  disease.    She  asked how  Mr.  Ashman  views  this                                                               
growing problem.                                                                                                                
Number 1188                                                                                                                     
MR.  ASHMAN agreed  with Representative  Cissna's comments.   The                                                               
Alaska  Commission on  Aging and  the local  senior networks  are                                                               
looking at what  level of services are  being provided currently.                                                               
Once that  assessment is made,  the [program] can be  tailored to                                                               
meet the  needs of the community.   The division will  be looking                                                               
to see  where the funds  are being  spent and pointing  out that,                                                               
for   example,  52   percent  of   funds  are   being  spent   on                                                               
transportation services  and then assure  that is where  the need                                                               
is for a  particular community.  Some of the  senior networks may                                                               
not be aware of  the way funds are being spent.   Mr. Ashman said                                                               
that  the  division  and  the commission  will  be  having  those                                                               
discussions on a local level.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL noted  that it  is helpful  to understand                                                               
that this  is an  evolving plan and  a change  of administration.                                                               
He asked  how these changes impact  the scrutiny of grants.   Are                                                               
there  any   major  changes   in  the   delivery  of   the  plan.                                                               
Representative Coghill  stated that based  on what he  has heard,                                                               
he is  still not satisfied  that he understands what  the changes                                                               
will be.                                                                                                                        
MR.  ASHMAN responded  that he  is not  sure what  Representative                                                               
Coghill  is asking.   He  commented  that when  working with  the                                                               
grantee agencies,  the division will be  saying historically here                                                               
is  where the  funds have  been used  and the  types of  services                                                               
[provided]  in this  particular  market.   The  division will  be                                                               
asking  if these  services have  been  meeting the  needs of  the                                                               
community.   Mr.  Ashman  noted  that many  of  the grantees  are                                                               
Medicaid waiver  providers and the  division will work  to ensure                                                               
that  they  are  maximizing  the  funds  received.    He  assured                                                               
Representative  Coghill that  the division  has regulations  that                                                               
will  be  followed to  ensure  that  those receiving  the  grants                                                               
administer  them   appropriately,  and  that  the   grantees  are                                                               
submitting reports on time before any advances are provided.                                                                    
Number 1559                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  asked how  this plan  fits with  the home                                                               
and  community-based waiver  program, assisted-living  homes, and                                                               
the  huge network  of agencies  out there.   Obviously,  he said,                                                               
this group is  very attuned to the needs of  the communities.  He                                                               
told Mr.  Ashman he would  like to have  some clarity in  how the                                                               
needs are being  identified and how the grants  meet those needs.                                                               
For example, doesn't the commission  look at the number of people                                                               
and the limited  number of dollars to meet those  needs, and then                                                               
evaluate  what is  the wisest  expenditure  of those  funds.   He                                                               
asked  if  there is  any  change  in  the  way these  points  are                                                               
MR. ASHMAN responded  that the division will take a  look at what                                                               
services are  being provided  currently in  a community  and make                                                               
sure the  services that are  needed [are  met], and if  not, what                                                               
kind of changes need to  be made [to address those deficiencies].                                                               
Mr. Ashman commented that he believes  that is a local issue that                                                               
the division will be working on  to assure the right services are                                                               
being  provided.   This  will  be done  in  conjunction with  the                                                               
division   and  the   commission  because   while  the   division                                                               
administers the  grant programs; it  is the commission  that puts                                                               
together the  state plan,  reviews it,  does the  public comment,                                                               
and works with  the local communities.  The  commission will work                                                               
side-by-side with [the division].   Ultimately, the state plan is                                                               
the plan that is submitted by  the governor, he stated.  He added                                                               
that the division  will ensure that the  administration of grants                                                               
are in compliance with that state plan.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  said he would like  some clarification on                                                               
where    the    commission's    [duties]   start,    where    the                                                               
administration's [duties] start, and at  what point it converges.                                                               
How do  to the two  work together,  and is there  tension between                                                               
the two, he asked.                                                                                                              
MR.  ASHMAN told  the committee  that under  Alaska statutes  the                                                               
executive director prepares  the state plan.   The Older American                                                               
Act requires a state plan  and a senior advisory committee, which                                                               
in  Alaska is  the Alaska  Commission  on Aging.   The  executive                                                               
director  works for  and is  hired  by the  Alaska Commission  on                                                               
Aging,  subject to  the governor's  appointment because  it is  a                                                               
partially  exempt position.   He  reiterated  that the  executive                                                               
director puts together  the plan in conjunction  with the desires                                                               
of the commission.   After the plan is  developed, the commission                                                               
spends  approximately six  months conducting  public hearings  on                                                               
that plan.   The comments  and feedback received in  those public                                                               
hearings are incorporated into the plan, he said.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  if  the division's  move from  the                                                               
Department  of Administration  to  the Department  of Health  and                                                               
Social  Services  affects how  the  plan  works.   Has  the  move                                                               
impacted how  different agencies  work together.   Representative                                                               
Coghill asked  how the plan  affects people  at home.   Are there                                                               
changes in the categories that are being offered, he asked.                                                                     
MR.  ASHMAN responded  that the  reorganization  does make  sense                                                               
because  the division  is the  "one-stop-shop" for  all long-term                                                               
care services.   The Division  of Senior and  Disability Services                                                               
not only manages the Medicaid  Waiver Program, but also the other                                                               
three long-term  care options.   He said the division  is looking                                                               
at the broader picture of how  all these programs fit together to                                                               
make  sure  the  needs  are  being met  with  whatever  types  of                                                               
programs are  available.  He said  that he would not  want to see                                                               
the  division go  into  a community  and tell  it  that it  needs                                                               
respite [care],  for example.  He  said he wants the  division to                                                               
say  to a  community  here's what  is  currently offered;  here's                                                               
what's available; ask what is working  and what is not; and offer                                                               
some programs that are available to  meet the needs of seniors in                                                               
the community.                                                                                                                  
Number 1678                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL   said  that   he  still   needs  further                                                               
clarification  on the  grants issue  before he  can vote  for the                                                               
reauthorization of the Alaska Older Alaskans Commission.                                                                        
MR. ASHMAN  replied that, for  example, when there are  Title III                                                               
funds  [available] for  nutrition transportation  services (NTS),                                                               
it is  the grantees that comes  to the division with  a proposal.                                                               
The  division knows  how much  money  is available  based on  the                                                               
inter-state funding formula.  So  regionally it is known how much                                                               
money can  go into that  particular region, he  said.  It  is the                                                               
grantee that  tells the division  how much  it wants to  spend on                                                               
transportation,  information  referral,   and  other  categories.                                                               
Within the big  picture, it is the grantee that  is deciding what                                                               
level of services  are being made.  He told  the members that the                                                               
question the  division has  is when  there are  multiple grantees                                                               
within  a particular  region,  do the  grantees  all know  what's                                                               
going on, and  are the dollars that are being  spent the best use                                                               
of those funds.                                                                                                                 
Number 1743                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL said  that the need is great  and he wants                                                               
to ensure  that he  has a  clear understanding of  the plan.   He                                                               
said  he has  one  other  question which  he  believes cannot  be                                                               
answered  in   this  committee,   but  which  he   would  welcome                                                               
suggestions from  Mr. Ashman.   He said he  is aware of  the fact                                                               
that  there is  a huge  federal dollar  contribution, and  a huge                                                               
amount of federal  money that does not go through  the state, but                                                               
goes directly to the community.   Representative Coghill said his                                                               
concern is  that many of  these dollars  are going into  the same                                                               
service market for similar needs.   He said he wants to make sure                                                               
that one funding  source is not competing with  another source in                                                               
the same market.                                                                                                                
Number 1797                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WILSON  commented that she  is concerned because  funds are                                                               
so limited and seniors are so  precious to Alaska.  She asked Mr.                                                               
Ashman  where the  lieutenant governor's  faith-based initiatives                                                               
fits  into this.    Chair  Wilson said  that  what neighbors  and                                                               
family use  to do for  each other, is no  longer being done  on a                                                               
volunteer basis  because it is  being paid  for.  She  added that                                                               
she is concerned  that something is driving this  machine.  Chair                                                               
Wilson  asked   if  the  division   is  looking   at  encouraging                                                               
volunteerism.    For  example,  there are  many  things  such  as                                                               
grocery shopping,  babysitting, and household chores  which could                                                               
be done free of charge by  a volunteer.  She encouraged this kind                                                               
of volunteerism  so that the things  that really need to  be paid                                                               
for can be funded in a larger  scope.  In some cases, grandma use                                                               
to baby-sit for  free, but now she's being paid.   Chair Wilson's                                                               
said it is  not that she doesn't want grandma  to have some extra                                                               
spending  money, but  that when  money  is spent  on things  that                                                               
could  be  accomplished  through   volunteerism  it  may  not  be                                                               
possible to fund things that are really needed.                                                                                 
MR.  ASHMAN replied  that one  of his  staff is  assigned to  the                                                               
lieutenant  governor's  faith-based  initiatives.    He  said  he                                                               
believes that many  would be surprised at the  number of grantees                                                               
that are working with the  same [faith-based] organizations.  For                                                               
example, if  it is known that  a particular person does  not have                                                               
any  food  in their  cupboard,  a  faith-based organization  will                                                               
provide that.   Faith-based organizations, through  the 501(c)(3)                                                               
or  nonprofit status,  will  participate in  some  of these  same                                                               
programs that the division has.                                                                                                 
Number 1922                                                                                                                     
MR. ASHMAN shared his concern  that what [families and neighbors]                                                               
use to  do for each  other seems  to be shifting  somewhere else.                                                               
He  said  that  he  believes  that  many  have  heard  about  the                                                               
regulatory changes that reflect  cost-containment measures in the                                                               
division's budget  to eliminate  some of  those expenses.   There                                                               
are instances where  the division is paying  for respite services                                                               
to a paid family member, so  they can go out and provide services                                                               
to  someone else.    The  division is  saying  that  it will  not                                                               
respite a  paid care provider, he  commented.  There is  a higher                                                               
dependence   on  family   members,  in   that  the   division  is                                                               
eliminating the  use of  respite and  chores services  and saying                                                               
that if there is someone in  that household who can provide those                                                               
services,  then he/she  needs to  be  doing them.   Our  proposed                                                               
regulations [which  reflect those changes]  have gone out  to the                                                               
public for comment, and should be adopted shortly.                                                                              
CHAIR WILSON  reiterated that  she is not  saying that  people do                                                               
not need a  break, but that perhaps a neighbor  could come in and                                                               
help out and it would not cost anything.                                                                                        
MR. ASHMAN responded that the  division is limiting respite to 10                                                               
hours per week or  520 hours per year.  He  said he believes that                                                               
is  fair  and  consistent  with   what  other  states  have  been                                                               
providing.   He  agreed that  there certainly  should be  respite                                                               
MS. COTTING  told the members  that she has  a copy of  the draft                                                               
plan  for  the next  four  years,  which  was obtained  from  the                                                               
Department of Health and Social Services.                                                                                       
Number 2018                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF replied that he would  like a copy.  He asked                                                               
Mr.  Ashman  to  elaborate  on the  regulations  that  are  being                                                               
MR.  ASHMAN  asked if  he  and  one of  his  staff,  who is  very                                                               
knowledgeable, could meet with him  to discuss the regulations in                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  shared that this past  summer his mother-in-                                                               
law  had  a  stroke,  and  said that  he  was  surprised  by  the                                                               
discouraging attitude his family  encountered in choosing to care                                                               
for her at home.   He said this was a  family stepping-up to care                                                               
for her; it was not going to  cost anyone anything.  He asked Mr.                                                               
Ashman to comment on that prevailing attitude.                                                                                  
Number 2086                                                                                                                     
MR. ASHMAN  commented that his  response would be dangerous.   He                                                               
shared that his  family recently did the same thing.   His father                                                               
passed away  in his own  home, he said.   When his  wife's mother                                                               
was dying, during the last six  months of her life his wife cared                                                               
for her for four months.  He said  he believes that it is the way                                                               
a person  is raised, more  than anything  else.  Mr.  Ashman said                                                               
that is  where personal beliefs  come in.   He said he  could not                                                               
say  why  [Representative  Wolf's  family  was  discouraged  from                                                               
caring for  his mother-in-law].   He reiterated that  he believes                                                               
it is how a person is raised.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  shared that his mother-in-law  taught school                                                               
for 36  years in California.   She's 74  years old now  and upset                                                               
that this is happening  to her.  He said it took  a while for him                                                               
to convince  her that she  is on the biggest  teaching assignment                                                               
that she  ever encountered, because  now she's teaching  her kids                                                               
compassion.  It is a very valuable lesson.                                                                                      
Number 2168                                                                                                                     
MARIE DARLIN, Coordinator, Capital  City Task Force, AARP Alaska,                                                               
testified in support  of HB 374.  She told  the members that AARP                                                               
Alaska  fully  supports the  continuation  of  the Commission  on                                                               
Aging.    Over  the  years   AARP  Alaska  has  worked  with  the                                                               
commission  on  may  issues  and  looks to  them,  and  hopes  to                                                               
continue to  look to them, as  a group that will  be working with                                                               
organizations such  as AARP to ensure  that there is a  plan that                                                               
will meet  the needs of  communities.  Ms. Darlin  explained that                                                               
currently AARP Alaska  is one of the groups  the commission works                                                               
with in determining what the needs  are.  Many of the issues that                                                               
have been  discussed today are  concerns of AARP Alaska  as well.                                                               
She added that  she served on the Juneau Commission  on Aging for                                                               
about six  years, and  said that  it is  important for  the state                                                               
commission  to  go  to  the   local  commissions  on  aging  when                                                               
determining the needs of the  community.  Some communities do not                                                               
have a local  commission, but most communities  are interested in                                                               
having one, she added.                                                                                                          
Number 2255                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  commented that  he believes  every member                                                               
should attend at least one commission debate.                                                                                   
Number 2263                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA moved  to report  CS HB  394, 23-LS1534\D,                                                               
Mischel,    2/19/04,   out    of   committee    with   individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no  objection, CS  HB  394(HES)  was reported  out  of the  House                                                               
Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                       

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