Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

03/24/2017 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 144 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved HB 86 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
          HB 144-EXTEND BOARD OF VETERINARY EXAMINERS                                                                       
3:19:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO  announced that the  first order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 144,  "An Act extending  the termination  date of                                                               
the  Board   of  Veterinary  Examiners;  and   providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
3:19:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRYSTAL KOENEMAN,  Staff, Representative  Sam Kito,  III, Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, advised  that  HB 144  extends  the Board  of                                                               
Veterinarian  Examiners  eight  full  years until  2020,  at  the                                                               
request of the Division of Legislative Audit.                                                                                   
3:20:22 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 3:19 p.m. to 3:21:21 p.m.                                                                    
3:21:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO, after  ascertaining no one wished  to testify, closed                                                               
public testimony on HB 144.                                                                                                     
3:21:38 PM                                                                                                                    
DOCTOR   RACHAEL  BERNGARTT,   Veterinarian,   Alaska  Board   of                                                               
Veterinary Examiners, said she was available for questions.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON asked  what  the board  could do  about                                                               
improving veterinary medicine in rural Alaska.                                                                                  
DR.  BURNGARTT  answered  that the  Alaska  Board  of  Veterinary                                                               
Examiners are charged  with regulating licensees and  it does not                                                               
specifically know  where licensees will practice.   She suggested                                                               
that  an   appropriate  resource  to  work   with  in  increasing                                                               
veterinary  care  in  rural  Alaska would  be  the  Alaska  State                                                               
Veterinary   Medical    Association,   which   speaks    to   all                                                               
veterinarians.   Historically,  people submit  their credentials,                                                               
the  board reviews  it, "and  that's it."   She  opined that  the                                                               
board has  never denied  a courtesy  license, commenting  that it                                                               
recently completed more than 20,  less than 50, courtesy licenses                                                               
for the Iditarod  and veterinarians were stretched  out into very                                                               
remote areas  of Alaska.   She reiterated  that the  board simply                                                               
looks at credentials  to be certain license  applicants adhere to                                                               
the regulations, and  while she understands the  need to increase                                                               
veterinary assess  in rural  Alaska, she  expressed that  that is                                                               
not the job of the Alaska Board of Veterinary Examiners.                                                                        
3:24:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  asked Dr. Burngartt to  explain a courtesy                                                               
DR.  BURNGARTT answered  that a  courtesy license  is issued  for                                                               
special events  such as,  the Iditarod,  a spay/neuter  clinic, a                                                               
marine mammal conference,  and such, where the desire  is to draw                                                               
in outside  experts or  more manpower.   The courtesy  license is                                                               
issued for  a specific  event only,  at a  reduced rate,  with an                                                               
Alaskan  veterinarian  as  a  sponsor.   The  board  also  offers                                                               
temporary licenses  up to  60 days  to help  folks that  may only                                                               
need short-term coverage.                                                                                                       
3:26:21 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES surmised that  courtesy licenses are issued                                                               
to existing veterinarians, who may not be Alaskan residents.                                                                    
DR.  BURNGARTT responded  that the  veterinarians who  are issued                                                               
courtesy licenses are not Alaska residents.                                                                                     
3:26:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked whether  the people who have expressed                                                               
opposition to HB 144 believe the  role of the board is other than                                                               
what it is, that maybe  the board's role should provide services,                                                               
or whether they  oppose HB 144 because they view  the board as an                                                               
impediment to more rural services.                                                                                              
DR. BURNGARTT  responded that  she could  not speculate  why they                                                               
are  unhappy, but  the  board has  not denied  a  license to  any                                                               
veterinarian meeting the credentials.                                                                                           
3:27:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked  whether it would be fair  to say [the                                                               
unhappy people]  were unsure  of the board's  role, which  is not                                                               
DR. BURNGARTT speculated,  "Yes," and commented that  they do not                                                               
understand the  role of the board  and the folks living  in rural                                                               
Alaska want care for their pets.   She said she would like to see                                                               
a cardiologist in  rural Alaska, and many other  things, but that                                                               
is not the job of the Alaska Board of Veterinary Examiners.                                                                     
CHAIR  KITO   advised  Representative  Knopp  that   one  of  the                                                               
challenges is  that there  does not  appear to  be a  place where                                                               
people can  call when they do  not receive adequate service.   He                                                               
further  advised  that that  issue  is  definitely something  his                                                               
office is interested  in working on over the  interim and invited                                                               
the  members  of  the  committee  to  participate  in  collecting                                                               
information as to different ways  the state could help facilitate                                                               
additional care for animals in rural Alaska.                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO reopened public testimony on HB 144.                                                                                 
3:29:23 PM                                                                                                                    
DOCTOR ERIC  JAYNE, Veterinarian, advised he  is the veterinarian                                                               
who worked throughout  rural Alaska for 10  years, 1999-2009, and                                                               
is intimately  knowledgeable about the  issues.  He  advised that                                                               
he  prepared  a 2004  survey  through  the University  of  Alaska                                                               
Fairbanks,  looking at  veterinary  needs and  asking people  for                                                               
solutions.  One recommendation was  to increase education because                                                               
people  in  the  villages  were performing  veterinary  care  for                                                               
animals  with  zero  training  and   simply  guessing  about  the                                                               
procedures.  The  University of Alaska tried to  start a training                                                               
program  and even  though  the board's  only  described role  was                                                               
approving or denying  of licenses, he pointed out  that the board                                                               
actually did  intervene in that  training.  He stressed  that the                                                               
board will  intervene in issues, and  the issue at that  time was                                                               
training people how to perform  emergency care, and the board did                                                               
not feel  the training  was appropriate.   The 2004  survey found                                                               
that a "crazy number" of animals  died every year in rural Alaska                                                               
due to the  lack of veterinary care, and he  estimated the number                                                               
was  in excess  of 50,000  animals dying  from lack  of care,  or                                                               
being shot.   He  explained that  a huge issue  for him  in these                                                               
small  isolated  villages  is that  the  individuals  caring  for                                                               
animals have  no choice, and when  there is an excess  of strays,                                                               
or animals  that cannot  be treated,  the animal  are shot.   The                                                               
call goes  out in the villages  for people to tie  up their dogs,                                                               
which means  any loose dogs will  be shot.  During  that time, he                                                               
articulated, the  children may  not actually  see the  dogs being                                                               
shot, but they hear the gunshots  which is a source of trauma for                                                               
the children in villages.  He  expressed that the board should be                                                               
more involved because  there is a rule in  the veterinarian board                                                               
regulations calling  for the  board to  perform surveys,  and the                                                               
board has  never performed  a survey.   Also,  he pointed  out, a                                                               
rural member  should be admitted  to the  board, so the  needs of                                                               
rural Alaskans can  be heard, except there are  policies now that                                                               
are tweaked  against rural veterinarians.   He clarified  that by                                                               
rural veterinarians, he meant non-profit veterinarians.                                                                         
3:31:42 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. JAYNE related that there is  a real hesitation on the part of                                                               
Alaska to allow outside non-profit  veterinarians into the state,                                                               
which  is happening  all across  America, and  whether the  board                                                               
wants  to  admit  it  or  not, it  is  a  resource  being  denied                                                               
Alaskans.    He   acknowledged  that  the  board   is  fine  with                                                               
everything up  to a  point, except the  survey suggested  that at                                                               
least  10,000 spays  and neuters  are necessary  in rural  Alaska                                                               
just to  stay even, and  when rising up  to that number  of spays                                                               
and  neuters,  a  lot  of   veterinarians  will  feel  threatened                                                               
economically.    The  manner  in  which  the  board's  rules  are                                                               
interpreted   currently,  "allows   easy  access   to  harass   a                                                               
veterinarian,  which  is  exactly  what  happened  to  me."    He                                                               
explained  that he  recently withdrew  his  application "so  this                                                               
could be  talked about, I guess  this was keeping the  issue from                                                               
being talked about,  and I'd be happy to talk  with anybody about                                                               
what has happened  to me," and there are many  things in the "vet                                                               
board rules"  allowing the problems  to happen.  For  example, he                                                               
said,  there  is no  time  limit  to  file  a complaint,  and  in                                                               
reapplying for  a license,  he actually  had a  complaint brought                                                               
forward from  12-years prior and he  was asked to respond  to the                                                               
complaint, "which is crazy," he expressed.                                                                                      
3:33:08 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. JAYNE explained that among  the many things that are actually                                                               
legal in Alaska,  the state allows a veterinarian  to euthanize a                                                               
pet if  the owner cannot  pay the bill, which  happens oftentimes                                                               
in rural Alaska.   For example, in Chalkyitsik,  an elderly woman                                                               
sent  her little  white dog  into town  to have  one small  front                                                               
tooth  removed, the  veterinarian removed  it, and  told her  the                                                               
cost would be $500 or they would  euthanize the dog.  She came up                                                               
with the  money, paid  the fee  and paid for  both flights.   The                                                               
veterinarian put  one stitch  in that tooth  - the  empty socket,                                                               
and  Dr. Jayne  said  he had  never  seen a  stitch  put in  that                                                               
location.   The veterinarian  "literally told  her she  could not                                                               
take the stitch out herself, that  that was against the law, that                                                               
she  had to  fly the  dog back  in to  have the  stitch removed."                                                               
Fortunately,  he said,  he was  in  Chalkyitsik at  the time  and                                                               
removed the  stitch, the elder  was frantic and almost  in tears,                                                               
he related.  There are stories  such as that happening all of the                                                               
time.   Also,  he advised,  he has  seen many  cases where  rural                                                               
Alaskans do  not feel  protected by the  board because  they have                                                               
received  poor  quality medicine,  were  sent  drugs without  the                                                               
correct labeling, and  such.  Dr. Jayne stressed  that there were                                                               
so  many things  the board  could do  if it  took an  interest in                                                               
rural Alaska,  and the best  way to accomplish that  result would                                                               
be to add a true rural Alaska member.                                                                                           
3:34:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO  encouraged Dr. Jayne  to allow Chair Kito's  staff to                                                               
work with him  over the interim to try to  come up with different                                                               
ideas to bring back before the committee next year.                                                                             
DR.  JAYNE said,  "That would  be  great," and  advised that  the                                                               
reason  he  reapplied was  absolutely  to  bring this  issue  out                                                               
because he  is "haunted by  the memory  of the children  in rural                                                               
Alaska and the effect this has on them."                                                                                        
CHAIR KITO closed public testimony on HB 144.                                                                                   
3:35:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL moved to report  HB 144, Version 30-LS0596\A,                                                               
out  of   committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  the                                                               
accompanying fiscal notes.  There  being no objection, HB 144 was                                                               
moved from the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB170 DCCED Presentation 3.23.17.pdf HL&C 3/24/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 170
HB170 Fiscal Note DHSS-SDSA 3.17.17.pdf HL&C 3/24/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 170
HB170 Fiscal Note DCCED-DBS 3.13.17.pdf HL&C 3/24/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 170
HB170 Repealers List 3.21.17.pdf HL&C 3/24/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 170
HB170 Sectional Analysis 3.21.17.pdf HL&C 3/24/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 170
HB170 Sponsor Statement 3.21.17.pdf HL&C 3/24/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 170
HB086 ACPE Response HLAC 3.23.17.pdf HL&C 3/24/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 86
HB141 DOLWD Response HLAC 3.10.17.pdf HL&C 3/24/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 141
HB170 DCCED Whitepaper 3.20.17.pdf HL&C 3/24/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 170
HB170 DCCED Presentation 3.23.17.pdf HL&C 3/24/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 170