Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/17/2004 03:20 PM House L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 402-LABOR & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT FEES                                                                                     
CHAIR ANDERSON  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  BILL  NO.  402,  "An Act  relating  to  fees  for  the                                                               
inspection of  recreational devices, for certificates  of fitness                                                               
for  electrical   wiring  and  plumbing,  for   filing  voluntary                                                               
flexible work hour plans, and  for licenses for boiler operators;                                                               
and providing for  an effective date."  [HB 402  was sponsored by                                                               
the House Rules Standing Committee by request of the governor.]                                                                 
Number 1853                                                                                                                     
GREY MITCHELL,  Director, Division  of Labor Standards  & Safety,                                                               
Department  of  Labor  &   Workforce  Development,  presented  an                                                               
informational   flowchart  that   detailed  the   collection  and                                                               
expenditure of  state fees  for recreational  device inspections,                                                               
boiler   operator  licensing   fees,   electrician  and   plumber                                                               
certificate  of fitness  fees,  and flex-plan  filing  fees.   He                                                               
     The  recreational device  inspection fees  are paid  by                                                                    
     the operators  of these  recreational devices.   People                                                                    
     who  are operating  ski  lifts or  a  go-cart ride  ...                                                                    
     would be  required to  pay a fee  for the  inspector to                                                                    
     check  that  ride  out.    Those  fees  would  then  be                                                                    
     deposited  into  the  building  safety  account  [BSA],                                                                    
     which  is   a  subaccount  in  the   general  fund  ...                                                                    
     legislatively   earmarked   to  fund   the   mechanical                                                                    
     inspection program.  ... The  legislature then  gives a                                                                    
     certain   amount  of   authority   to  the   Mechanical                                                                    
     Inspection   Program   to   spend  the   money   that's                                                                    
     collected. ... The funding would  be used for inspector                                                                    
     certification and  the cost  of travel  associated with                                                                    
     getting these certifications. ...                                                                                          
     The   second  section   deals   with  boiler   operator                                                                    
     licenses.    And  we  are   proposing  a  fee  for  the                                                                    
     licensing of  boiler operators.   At the time  of their                                                                    
     application they would  pay a $200 fee,  which would be                                                                    
     good  for three  years.   The funds  for those  license                                                                    
     fees  would, again,  be  deposited  into this  building                                                                    
     safety account,  which is used  to fund  the Mechanical                                                                    
     Inspection   Program,   subject  to   the   legislative                                                                    
     authority  that is  established by  you.   That funding                                                                    
     amount would be  used for the program  costs, which are                                                                    
     involved   with  reviewing   the  credentials   of  the                                                                    
     applicants, testing the applicants  when they apply for                                                                    
     a license,  issuing the  licenses, and  maintaining the                                                                    
     records on those license holders.                                                                                          
Number 1722                                                                                                                     
MR. MITCHELL continued:                                                                                                         
     Section 3  deals with certificate-of-fitness  fees that                                                                    
     are  paid   by  plumbers  and  electricians   who  hold                                                                    
     certificate of fitness cards or  licenses.  At the time                                                                    
     of their  application for that license,  they would pay                                                                    
     a fee for  the license.  Currently, they do  pay a fee,                                                                    
     and  our proposal  is simply  to increase  that fee  to                                                                    
     cover our  existing costs  and increase  one electrical                                                                    
     inspector position.   The funds that  are collected for                                                                    
     those certificate-of-fitness  fees, again, go  into the                                                                    
     building  safety account,  which is  then used  to fund                                                                    
     the Mechanical Inspection Program. ...                                                                                     
     The  last  one:  ...  flex-plan filing  fees  would  be                                                                    
     charged to an employer at  the time that they apply for                                                                    
     flexible  work hour  plan, which  is an  exemption from                                                                    
     overtime  that basically  allows  employees  to work  a                                                                    
     four 10-hour day schedule instead  of the normal 8-hour                                                                    
     standard  that applies  for overtime  in Alaska.   Then                                                                    
     again,  these funds  would just  be deposited  into the                                                                    
     general fund,  so they  aren't program  specific funds.                                                                    
     This is more of a revenue-generating proposal.                                                                             
Number 1648                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked if the BSA is the same account for                                                                   
all four of the sections on the flowchart or whether each                                                                       
section is a subaccount of the BSA.                                                                                             
MR. MITCHELL replied that the first three sections are all in                                                                   
the BSA, and the last section's fees go into the general fund.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  asked  if  this bill  requires  that  each                                                               
recreational-device  inspector travel  to  California or  Florida                                                               
for  training  or  if  one individual  could  get  the  necessary                                                               
training, return to Alaska, and train other inspectors.                                                                         
MR.  MITCHELL replied,  "The cost  would really  only be  for our                                                               
inspectors to  go to certification  training in  those locations.                                                               
Then they would come back  and, with their knowledge, inspect the                                                               
devices for these operators."                                                                                                   
Number 1584                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  asked how long  it would take to  add an                                                               
additional electrical inspector after the fees were raised.                                                                     
MR. MITCHELL said  there are two positions being held:   one is a                                                               
new position,  not in  the governor's budget,  and would  only be                                                               
created when  HB 402 passes; the  other is being held  because of                                                               
current insufficient  funding in the BSA.   He hoped to  fill the                                                               
second position  first and believed  there would be  enough funds                                                               
at the beginning of the fiscal year if HB 402 passed.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD stated his  intent to increase the number                                                               
of electrical  inspectors and wondered how  the legislature could                                                               
accomplish this goal.                                                                                                           
MR. MITCHELL said he couldn't  commit to filling the new position                                                               
immediately  because the  program is  funded from  collected fees                                                               
and the distribution process for these fees is complex.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD reiterated  that  electricians agree  to                                                               
pay  extra fees  so  there are  adequate  inspections; he  sought                                                               
assurance that these fees would go for the inspector positions.                                                                 
MR. MITCHELL replied:                                                                                                           
     The plan  is to  increase by two  positions.   So we're                                                                    
     going  to  fill  a  vacancy and  then  we're  adding  a                                                                    
     position with  this legislation,  and we would  fill it                                                                    
     if  we  had  the  revenue  available to  do  it.    Our                                                                    
     projections  show  that  we will.    So  if  everything                                                                    
     aligns, then we're going to  fill this position shortly                                                                    
     after the start of the fiscal year.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO called  attention to  page 2,  lines 19-20,                                                               
"Nothing in  this section creates  a dedicated fund  or dedicates                                                               
the money in  the account for a specific purpose."   He expressed                                                               
concern that the fees could be used for some other purpose.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  clarified that  this language  exists to                                                               
avoid   constitutional   conflicts   because   of   the   [state]                                                               
constitutional prohibition  on dedicated funding.   He said, "You                                                               
want to try  and direct it here,  but you have got  to express in                                                               
the statute that it is not dedicated."                                                                                          
MR.  MITCHELL said  the BSA  statute, AS 44.31.025,  contains the                                                               
authority to deposit in and charge against the BSA.                                                                             
Number 1307                                                                                                                     
MIKE   NOTAR,    Assistant   Business   Manager,    Local   1547,                                                               
International   Brotherhood   of   Electrical   Workers   (IBEW),                                                               
     I'm here  to speak  to the  proposed increasing  of the                                                                    
     fees charged  for electrician certificates  of fitness.                                                                    
     Journeymen  electricians and  apprentices, in  order to                                                                    
     perform electrical  work in the  state of  Alaska, must                                                                    
     qualify  for,   test  for,   obtain,  and   possess  an                                                                    
     electrical certificate  of fitness  or license.   Also,                                                                    
     electrical  contractors performing  work  in our  state                                                                    
     are  required  to test  for  and  obtain an  electrical                                                                    
     administrator's   license.      For   the   committee's                                                                    
     information,   certificate-of-fitness  holders   cannot                                                                    
     perform electrical  work unless they are  employed by a                                                                    
     licensed electrical contractor.                                                                                            
     We  are  here  to  speak in  support  of  the  proposed                                                                    
     statute  change if  the revenues  collected are  placed                                                                    
     into  the building  safety account  and will  allow the                                                                    
     Department of Labor &  Workforce Development to enforce                                                                    
     certificate-of-fitness    requirements   and    perform                                                                    
     inspections.   At the  present time,  there is  but one                                                                    
     electrical   inspector  statewide   to  enforce   these                                                                    
     requirements and  do inspections.   As a  result, these                                                                    
     things  are  not  being  done to  the  extent  that  we                                                                    
     believe they should be.                                                                                                    
     We   believe  that   a  certificate   of  fitness   for                                                                    
     electricians has societal value,  both in protection of                                                                    
     life  and property,  when the  integrity of  electrical                                                                    
     installations is  inspected and required to  conform to                                                                    
     the minimum standards allowed by  law in our state.  We                                                                    
     also believe that, from  an enforcement standpoint, the                                                                    
     public   interest   is   well   served   by   requiring                                                                    
     electricians   and   apprentices   to   be   qualified,                                                                    
     licensed, adequately trained,  and continually educated                                                                    
     in the  national electrical code,  which is  adopted in                                                                    
     statute, which further protects life and property.                                                                         
     The Department of Labor  & Workforce [Development] also                                                                    
     through  these  inspections  and enforcement,  has  the                                                                    
     ability   to  enforce   the  electrical   administrator                                                                    
     requirements,  thus  assuring   the  public  that  both                                                                    
     qualified  contractors   and  electrical   workers  are                                                                    
     responsible  for  the  work being  performed  and  that                                                                    
     standards that assure public safety are being met.                                                                         
Number 1212                                                                                                                     
MR. NOTAR continued:                                                                                                            
     Another point  that I don't believe  has been mentioned                                                                    
     is  that  other  states -  specifically  Oregon,  South                                                                    
     Dakota,   North   Dakota,  Utah,   Nebraska,   Wyoming,                                                                    
     Washington, Idaho,  Montana, Minnesota,  Colorado, and,                                                                    
     most    recently,   California    -   have    licensing                                                                    
     requirements  for electricians.   The  State of  Alaska                                                                    
     reciprocates  licensing  with   each  of  these  states                                                                    
     except for  California at  present, to  the best  of my                                                                    
     knowledge.   What this  means is  that if  work becomes                                                                    
     slow in  certain areas  or states,  or if  work becomes                                                                    
     overly plentiful  in another  area or state  that lacks                                                                    
     an  adequate electrical  workforce, this  reciprocation                                                                    
     of  licensing allows  portability, both  for the  areas                                                                    
     and the electrical workers that  may need it.  Although                                                                    
     the fee  increase does not affect  these relationships,                                                                    
     I felt it was good information for the committee.                                                                          
Number 1129                                                                                                                     
CHAIR ANDERSON asked for clarification on Mr. Notar's position                                                                  
on HB 402.                                                                                                                      
MR. NOTAR replied: "We are supportive of the increase to our                                                                    
licensing fees if it, in fact, will go into the building safety                                                                 
account.  And I understand that there is not a dedication."                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked whether it was Mr. Notar's                                                                        
testimony that the certified electricians should be paying for                                                                  
building inspectors,  rather than  having real  estate developers                                                               
or building owners pay for them.                                                                                                
MR. NOTAR replied no.  He  said these inspectors have the ability                                                               
to  inspect for  the integrity  of the  work, but  also have  the                                                               
ability to enforce licensure of contractors.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG characterized  the certificate of fitness                                                               
as  a "tax  on workers"  and  asked Mr.  Notar if  there was  any                                                               
controversy  among the  membership  of the  IBEW  with regard  to                                                               
paying a fee for this certificate.                                                                                              
MR. NOTAR replied:                                                                                                              
     I don't believe I could  represent to this committee or                                                                    
     anyone else  that all  my members  are always  happy at                                                                    
     any one time regarding any issue.   I would have to say                                                                    
     that,  yes,  they  are generally  supportive  of  this.                                                                    
     There is some controversy  regarding the certificate of                                                                    
     fitness.   Probably  the major  controversy is  what is                                                                    
     spurring me  to provide this testimony  today, that is,                                                                    
     why would  we pay the  fee if there is  not enforcement                                                                    
     or inspection being done.                                                                                                  
Number 0950                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG expressed concern  that the Department of                                                               
Labor   &  Workforce   Development  planned   to  hire   building                                                               
inspectors with funds from the BSA.   He said he felt these costs                                                               
should be  borne by the  developers, the building owners,  or the                                                               
state agencies that hire inspectors, rather than the workers.                                                                   
MR. NOTAR stated:                                                                                                               
     To be very  candid, we have been paying  these fees for                                                                    
     30 years.  We feel they  are beneficial not only to our                                                                    
     members.   We feel  they are  beneficial to  the public                                                                    
     safety, the  public good.   Our members and  others are                                                                    
     generally comfortable  in the licensing fees,  and they                                                                    
     don't feel that they are exorbitant.                                                                                       
Number 0796                                                                                                                     
CLAIRE  MORTON, Owner,  Golden Wheel  Amusements, testified  that                                                               
her  company annually  hires  nationally certified,  professional                                                               
inspectors  from outside  to inspect  her recreational  equipment                                                               
and provide  safety training  to her  employees.   She questioned                                                               
the  prudence  of  the  $200-per-ride  inspection  fee  when  she                                                               
already pays  for an  outside firm  to do  the inspections.   She                                                               
questioned the  liability of the state  and suggested third-party                                                               
inspection might be more prudent.                                                                                               
Number 0550                                                                                                                     
STEVE    BOYD,   Manager,    National   Electrical    Contractors                                                               
Association,   noting  that   he  is   a  licensed   electrician,                                                               
     On behalf of myself  as a certificate-of-fitness holder                                                                    
     and on  behalf of  the National  Electrical Contractors                                                                    
     Association,  I'd like  to go  on record  as supporting                                                                    
     this fee increase.  Recognizing  the challenges that we                                                                    
     all  face, we  feel  that the  increase is  reasonable,                                                                    
     given the  length of time  since the last  increase and                                                                    
     the necessary work that has to be done.                                                                                    
     The  building  safety   account  would  ensure  funding                                                                    
     certificates of fitness and  inspections of the covered                                                                    
     work.   These programs  are beneficial to  the industry                                                                    
     and the general  public.  They help  ensure an adequate                                                                    
     level  of  compliance  of public  safety.    For  these                                                                    
     reasons,  we  support  the program  and  the  necessary                                                                    
     increase in fees.                                                                                                          
Number 0446                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked Mr.  Mitchell if the current system                                                               
of   inspections  allows   for  third-party   certified,  outside                                                               
MR. MITCHELL  replied that  the Division  of Labor  Standards and                                                               
Safety  has worked  with third-party  inspectors at  Golden Wheel                                                               
Amusements for  a number  of years.   He stated,  "The amusement-                                                               
ride inspections  that are done  by out of state  inspectors that                                                               
would come in,  or certified inspectors, which are  done with our                                                               
people, could be exempt from the  fee.  After all, our inspectors                                                               
would not do the inspection."                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG noted  that a  company with  10 machines                                                               
would  pay  $2,000  to  the  state in  addition  to  the  outside                                                               
MR.  MITCHELL   responded  that   if  the  inspector   doing  the                                                               
inspection was from his division, that would be true.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked whether Mr. Mitchell  would accept                                                               
a  certified  outside inspector  approved  by  the Department  of                                                               
Labor &  Workforce Development doing  the inspection  and waiving                                                               
the fee.                                                                                                                        
MR. MITCHELL said that's what  the department is currently doing;                                                               
however, it is not in regulation.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if the  statute could be amended to                                                               
include the  approved use of  certified, outside inspectors.   He                                                               
also asked  how much it costs  to process a one-page  request for                                                               
voluntary flextime work plan at this time.                                                                                      
MR.  MITCHELL replied  that there  is no  fee at  this time,  but                                                               
acknowledged  that some  flex plans  are complicated  and require                                                               
more time to process than others.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  asked for the primary  reason underlying                                                               
the $100 fee for a flex plan in the proposed legislation.                                                                       
MR. MITCHELL said it generates fee revenue.                                                                                     
TAPE 04-28, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0008                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  moved to  adopt Conceptual  Amendment 1,                                                               
to add  a subsection (d)  to Section  1 that says  the department                                                               
will  waive  any  fees  for  approved  and  nationally  certified                                                               
inspections for the  devices under this section.   There being no                                                               
objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                                   
Number 0079                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  moved to adopt Amendment  2, labeled 23-                                                               
GH2111\A.1, Bannister, 2/27/04, which read:                                                                                     
     Page 1, line 2:                                                                                                            
          Delete "for filing voluntary flexible work hour                                                                     
     Page 2, lines 6 - 9:                                                                                                       
          Delete all material.                                                                                                  
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
CHAIR ANDERSON objected for purposes of discussion.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  explained that for the  title for filing                                                               
voluntary  flexible work  hours, page  2, lines  6-9, Section  4,                                                               
this just  deletes the $100  fee for  filing for a  flexible work                                                               
hour plan.                                                                                                                      
CHAIR ANDERSON asked for a  "thumbs up" if the department agreed.                                                               
He then remarked, "OK, there's a thumbs up for the record."                                                                     
Number 0165                                                                                                                     
CHAIR ANDERSON  removed his objection.   He announced  that there                                                               
being no other objection, Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                              
Number 0178                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO moved  to report HB 402, as  amended, out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal  notes.   There  being  no  objection, CSHB  402(L&C)  was                                                               
reported from the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                  

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