Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/10/2004 08:02 AM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 394-COMMISSION ON AGING                                                                                                    
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that the  first order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 394. "An  Act extending the Alaska  Commission on                                                               
Number 0099                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM moved  to  adopt  HB 394  as  a work  draft.                                                               
There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
Number 0116                                                                                                                     
BARBARA COTTING,  Staff to Representative Jim  Holm, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, presented  HB 394 on behalf  of Representative Holm,                                                               
sponsor.   She told the  committee that HB  394 is a  simple bill                                                               
that would  extend the sunset  date for the Alaska  Commission on                                                               
Aging for  four more years, until  June 30, 2008.   She turned to                                                               
the  sponsor statement,  in which  she  said the  mission of  the                                                               
commission is written [included in the committee packet].                                                                       
MS.  COTTING  turned  to  the  audit done  [by  the  Division  of                                                               
Legislative Audit  - a 42-page  report included in  the committee                                                               
packet].    She  pointed  to  page 13,  the  end  of  the  second                                                               
paragraph,  which  read  as  follows:   "We  recommend  that  the                                                               
legislature   adopt   legislation    extending   ACoA's   [Alaska                                                               
Commission on Aging's]  termination date to June 30,  2008."  She                                                               
mentioned  Section 305  of the  Older Americans  Act and  Section                                                               
3026 of  the U.S. Code,  and said  that the commission  does meet                                                               
both of those federal requirements.                                                                                             
Number 0396                                                                                                                     
PAT  DAVIDSON, Legislative  Auditor, Legislative  Audit Division,                                                               
Legislative Agencies  & Offices, stated  that the purpose  of the                                                               
audit  was  to  determine  that   the  termination  date  of  the                                                               
commission should be extended.   The conclusion, she said, was to                                                               
recommend that  the date be  extended to  the statute-recommended                                                               
four years.                                                                                                                     
MS.  DAVIDSON said  the commission  has  helped older  [Alaskans]                                                               
lead dignified, independent,  and useful lives.   She stated that                                                               
the commission is  designated as the single  planning and service                                                               
area agency, which means it is  the only agency recognized by the                                                               
federal government to  be responsible to plan,  fund, and oversee                                                               
federally funded services to seniors statewide.                                                                                 
MS. DAVIDSON  turned to the appendices  at the back of  the audit                                                               
report.   She said  that it primarily  shows surveys  of grantees                                                               
that received  funding through  the commission.   She  also noted                                                               
that  it shows  a general  trend of  support for  the commission.                                                               
She continued as follows:                                                                                                       
     The one area of concern has  to do with the grant award                                                                    
     procedures.   And  we believe  that ...  the degree  to                                                                    
     which  people  believe  that   they're  fair  ...  [or]                                                                    
     unreasonable  has  to  do with  their  changing.    The                                                                    
     commission  had  met  and  had   changed  some  of  the                                                                    
     criteria -  had changed  some of  the weighting  of the                                                                    
     factors.  And I think  that what you see here reflected                                                                    
     in those survey results  is indeed that discomfort with                                                                    
     the change.                                                                                                                
Number 0572                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked what the  positive or negative effect would                                                               
be if the legislature did not extend the commission.                                                                            
MS.  DAVIDSON stated  that she  thinks  representatives from  the                                                               
Department of Health  & Social Services could  answer better what                                                               
the negative effect would be.   She surmised that it would create                                                               
problems  in funding  senior  services programs.    She said  the                                                               
Department of Health  & Social Services was trying  to modify the                                                               
state plan "for  the department to be recognized  rather than the                                                               
commission to be recognized"; however,  at the time of the audit,                                                               
that  state   plan  had  not   been  submitted  to   the  federal                                                               
government.   She  added that  she  doesn't know  if the  federal                                                               
government would have accepted that plan or not.                                                                                
MS. DAVIDSON,  in response  to a  question from  Chair Weyhrauch,                                                               
stated her  belief that the  federal government is looking  for a                                                               
single agency to  deal with, and that agency is  supposed to deal                                                               
with the grantees.   She said it is common  throughout the nation                                                               
that a  single commission  such as  [Alaska Commission  on Aging]                                                               
exists; however,  she said  she doesn't know  if the  federal law                                                               
would prohibit "any other form of organization to deal with it."                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH said  he  is on  the  [House Finance  Committee]                                                               
subcommittee  for the  Department  of Health  & Social  Services'                                                               
budget.  In doing a  reorganization of the department, Disability                                                               
Services  and Senior  Services  have been  combined  to form  the                                                               
Senior and  Disability Services.   He said he finds  it offensive                                                               
that the  two entities are  treated as if  they are "one  and the                                                               
same."   He  asked, "If  the  Alaska Commission  on Aging  didn't                                                               
exist, could ...,  say, the Senior ...  Disability Services serve                                                               
the same granting function?"                                                                                                    
MS. DAVIDSON responded that she doesn't know.                                                                                   
Number 0833                                                                                                                     
BANARSI  LAL,  Chair,  Alaska  Commission   on  Aging,  told  the                                                               
committee that he wishes someone  from the Department of Health &                                                               
Social Services  was present, but he  will do his best  to answer                                                               
the committee's questions.   In response to a  prior question, he                                                               
stated  that  the  federal law  requires  that  states  receiving                                                               
federal funds  to provide  services to  seniors should  have some                                                               
agency that is  designated to address senior issues.   He said he                                                               
thinks it was in deference to  that that the Alaska Commission on                                                               
Aging was established.                                                                                                          
MR.  LAL   noted  that  [Governor  Frank   Murkowski]  issued  an                                                               
executive  order   which  transferred   some  functions   of  the                                                               
Department  of  Administration  to  the Department  of  Health  &                                                               
Social  services;  both  the senior  services  function  and  the                                                               
[Alaska]   Commission  [on   Aging]  were   transferred  to   the                                                               
Department  of Health  & Social  Services.   He added,  "The only                                                               
difference was that the grant-making  functions of the commission                                                               
were  transferred   to  the  Division  of   Senior  &  Disability                                                               
Services."     He   clarified  that   the  commission   is  still                                                               
responsible for  developing a senior  services plan and  for "the                                                               
administration of the statewide plan."                                                                                          
MR. LAL stated that, at the  time of the merger, a four-year plan                                                               
had  been  completed  and submitted  to  the  governor's  office.                                                               
However,  the decision  was made  that  at that  time, since  the                                                               
administration  was new,  a  one-year plan  was  preferred.   The                                                               
commission has  since reviewed the  state plan again and,  at its                                                               
upcoming  meeting  in  Juneau  on  February  18-20,  it  will  be                                                               
finalizing the submission  of a state plan which  would cover the                                                               
period of 2004-2007.                                                                                                            
MR.  LAL stated  that the  other  major function  [of the  Alaska                                                               
Commission  on Aging]  is to  hold public  hearings statewide  on                                                               
issues  that are  critical to  the senior  population.   He noted                                                               
that,  at   the  beginning  of   the  legislative   session,  the                                                               
commission  holds a  public hearing  on all  legislation that  is                                                               
related to senior  services or would affect seniors  in some way.                                                               
He  stated that,  over the  years,  the commission  has been  the                                                               
voice  for senior  issues.   In the  past, it  has offered  grant                                                               
support  to  senior  advocacy  groups,  such  as  AGENET  [Alaska                                                               
Geriatric Exchange Network] and  Senior Advocacy Coalition, which                                                               
have widespread  membership.  It  has also supported  the efforts                                                               
of  the agencies,  such  as  the Older  Persons  Action Group  in                                                               
Anchorage.   He said [the  commission] continues to  advocate for                                                               
services [for  seniors] in all  parts of the  state, particularly                                                               
focusing on those  services that either are not  available or are                                                               
needed "in the light of established needs."                                                                                     
Number 1124                                                                                                                     
MR.   LAL  said   that,  whenever   funds  are   available,  [the                                                               
commission] travels at  least once a year to a  (indisc.) site to                                                               
experience the work  that's being done and to  determine the work                                                               
that needs  to be  done.   He stated  that [the  commission] will                                                               
continue to  be a strong voice  for all seniors.   It publishes a                                                               
monthly  newsletter, which  is also  available  on the  Internet,                                                               
entitled, Alaskan Seniors: Living Longer, Growing Stronger.                                                                   
MR. LAL noted that the only  thing that has changed following the                                                               
previously noted  transfer of services  is that  the commissioner                                                               
requested the  grant-making functions be transferred  over to the                                                               
Department of Health & Social  Services, and the Region 10 office                                                               
has agreed  to do that.   He indicated that the  commissioner has                                                               
also  submitted a  letter to  "legislative  audit" regarding  the                                                               
streamlined  functions  and  the  concerns listed  in  the  audit                                                               
report, especially relating to the  grant-making functions of the                                                               
MR.  LAL  stated  his  belief  that  Section  305  of  the  Older                                                               
Americans Act requires  each state to designate an  agency as the                                                               
sole estate  agency to develop  an administrative state  plan, to                                                               
coordinate  all  the  state  activities   related  to  the  Older                                                               
Americans Act, and to serve  as an effective and visible advocate                                                               
for the elderly.  He concluded as follows:                                                                                      
     Those are the three  functions that are still enshrined                                                                    
     in the  activities of the  Alaska Commission  on Aging.                                                                    
     For that  ... reason, and  for being such a  ... strong                                                                    
     voice  for  the seniors,  I  request  your support  for                                                                    
     extension of the Alaska Commission  on Aging until June                                                                    
     30, 2008.   I am not  so sure what would  happen if the                                                                    
     legislature was to decide otherwise.                                                                                       
Number 1310                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON referred  to the  analysis section  of the                                                               
fiscal note,  which shows  that the  Section 305  provisions that                                                               
Mr. Lal had previously indicated  were "with the commission"; yet                                                               
the  following sentence  says  that the  Department  of Health  &                                                               
Social [Services]  is designated  as the sole  state agency.   He                                                               
asked,  "Has that  designation been  removed from  the commission                                                               
and   transferred  to   [the  Department   of  Health   &  Social                                                               
MR.  LAL   responded,  "I  am   certain  that  those   have  been                                                               
transferred  to the  Department of  Health &  Social Services  in                                                               
agreement with the  federal agency.  So the fiscal  note that you                                                               
are  looking at  is  essentially the  operation  of the  [Alaska]                                                               
Commission on Aging."                                                                                                           
Number 1379                                                                                                                     
MR. LAL, in response to  questions from Chair Weyhrauch, said the                                                               
commission  currently   has  seven   members  appointed   by  the                                                               
governor;  four  of  them,  including  him,  have  been  recently                                                               
reappointed.    There  are three  other  designated  members,  he                                                               
noted,  who represent  the commissioners  of  [the Department  of                                                               
Administration,   the   Department   of  Community   &   Economic                                                               
Development, and  the Department of Health  and Social Services].                                                               
He  noted that  the representative  of the  commissioner for  the                                                               
Department of  Health and Social  Services is Steven Ashman.   He                                                               
stated that  there is an  executive director, and  applicants are                                                               
currently being  reviewed for the  position, which has  been open                                                               
since  December [2003].    The last  executive  director was  Dr.                                                               
Robert Gaylor,  and "he was  the executive director in  an acting                                                               
capacity for  about a  year, and  ... in  a regular  capacity for                                                               
about six months."                                                                                                              
Number 1518                                                                                                                     
PAULA  RECCHIA,  Staff  for  the   Alaska  Commission  on  Aging,                                                               
Department  of Health  & Social  Services,  clarified that  while                                                               
being  under  the department,  [the  commission]  is not  in  the                                                               
Division  of Senior  & Disability  Services.   In  response to  a                                                               
question from Representative Gruenberg,  she said she had nothing                                                               
to do with the preparation of the fiscal note.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said  he has  concerns  regarding  the                                                               
numbers in the fiscal note.                                                                                                     
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  said  he  plans to  hear  from  the  department                                                               
regarding  the fiscal  note.   He said  he is  supportive of  the                                                               
bill, but  he explained  that he wants  to understand  the global                                                               
context and "how this fits in with state policy."                                                                               
MS. RECCHIA  pointed out that  page 3  of the audit  report lists                                                               
that  an  additional  duty  of  the  commission  is  that  it  is                                                               
designated by  the Alaska Mental  Health Trust Authority  to plan                                                               
for  services for  people with  Alzheimer's  disease and  related                                                               
disorders.   She  said the  funds go  to the  department and  the                                                               
commission assists with  the development of the state  plan.  She                                                               
added that the Older Americans Act  specifies that "we do need to                                                               
have a plan about how their  federal funds are distributed."  She                                                               
specified  that  [the commission]  is  the  planning agency  that                                                               
develops the  formulas for nutrition and  transportation services                                                               
for the Older Workers' fund and the Family Caregiver program.                                                                   
Number 1725                                                                                                                     
MS.  RECCHIA, in  response to  a question  from Chair  Weyhrauch,                                                               
said the  long-term care  ombudsman is  actually with  the Mental                                                               
Health Trust Authority - a transfer  that she said she thinks was                                                               
done a couple  of years ago.  The funds  from the Older Americans                                                               
Act do go to the Mental Health Trust.                                                                                           
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH   asked,  "The   long-term  care   ombudsman  is                                                               
different  than  any sort  of  senior  ombudsman.   Does  such  a                                                               
position exist in state government?"                                                                                            
MS. RECCHIA  replied, "I  don't know that  a senior  ombudsman --                                                               
but the  long-term care ombudsman  is a requirement of  the Older                                                               
Americans  Act, so  that position  is related  to the  funds that                                                               
come from  the Older  Americans Act."   In response  to follow-up                                                               
questions  from  Chair Weyhrauch,  she  said  the long-term  care                                                               
ombudsman  does deal  with facilities  that offer  long-term care                                                               
for  seniors  and  is  also  responsible  for  investigating  any                                                               
reports about problems in assisted living homes, for example.                                                                   
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked  if a family member with  a complaint about                                                               
the Alaska  Pioneers' Home,  for example, would  go to  the long-                                                               
term care ombudsman.                                                                                                            
MS. RECCHIA answered  yes they could.  In response  to a question                                                               
from Chair  Weyhrauch, she said  the long-term care  ombudsman is                                                               
with the Department of Revenue.                                                                                                 
Number 1800                                                                                                                     
MS.  RECCHIA,  in  response to  a  question  from  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, said she  did not attend the hearing that  was held by                                                               
the  House Special  Committee on  Military and  Veterans' Affairs                                                               
over  the  interim; however,  the  chair  of the  commission  was                                                               
there,  as  well as  the  chair  of  the Alaska  Pioneers'  Home.                                                               
Furthermore, she  said she is  unable to speak to  the corrective                                                               
actions that were taken as a result of that hearing.                                                                            
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH suggested that that  could be addressed during an                                                               
overview with the Department of Administration.                                                                                 
Number 1853                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  it appears  from the  fiscal note                                                               
that the commission  makes a profit of about $57,000  a year.  He                                                               
asked if that's correct.                                                                                                        
MS.  RECCHIA  answered  that  she   has  had  no  involvement  in                                                               
preparing the  budget.  She  stated that  she did see  the budget                                                               
for  this  year  and  it  was "still  in  formation  even  before                                                               
Christmas."   She indicated  that [the  fiscal note]  is probably                                                               
[based upon] new information.                                                                                                   
Number 1934                                                                                                                     
MARIE  DARLIN, Representative  to AARP  Capital City  Task Force,                                                               
referred to  [Chair Weyhrauch's]  previous comment  regarding the                                                               
combining  of  Disability Services  and  Senior  Services in  the                                                               
reorganization  of  the  department.    She  indicated  that  the                                                               
commissioner's  rationale behind  that move  had to  do with  the                                                               
fact  that  there  was  overlap  in  services  "between  the  two                                                               
different segments."                                                                                                            
MS. DARLIN noted  that one of the responsibilities  of the Alaska                                                               
Commission  on  Aging is  to  present  the  plan for  the  Senior                                                               
Services annually.  She indicated  that AARP feels that there has                                                               
to be something  like the Alaska Commission on Aging  to keep the                                                               
senior aspect  of "all of this"  separate and distinct -  to deal                                                               
absolutely  and  solely with  senior  issues,  including all  the                                                               
issues that go  into the aspect of the  department's planning and                                                               
Number 2000                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  asked  Ms. Recchia  to  provide  the  committee                                                               
members with "a plan for our files."                                                                                            
MS.  RECCHIA  responded  that  there  is  a  plan  that  will  be                                                               
submitted to  the federal government.   She indicated that  it is                                                               
the  interim  plan  that  [the   commission]  is  working  under;                                                               
however, she said a draft plan could be made available.                                                                         
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  opined  that  the committee  would  benefit  by                                                               
seeing the products produced.                                                                                                   
MS.  RECCHIA  noted that  the  draft  plan  is available  on  the                                                               
state's web site.  She revealed that it is a lengthy plan.                                                                      
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH, in  response, asked for a table  of contents and                                                               
executive  summary only.   He  asked Ms.  Recchia if  there is  a                                                               
central number to call to find out about services for seniors.                                                                  
Number 2121                                                                                                                     
MS. RECCHIA replied that there  is an 800 number provided through                                                               
the Division of Senior & Disability  Services.  She noted that it                                                               
is a  fairly new number and  was [provided as] part  of the whole                                                               
senior  care  initiative that  the  governor  put forward.    She                                                               
stated  that  the  Older  Person's  Action  Group  (OPAG)  has  a                                                               
directory that it updates annually,  which is segmented according                                                               
to services and  also by areas.  She also  mentioned that the web                                                               
site lists all the services offered through the division.                                                                       
Number 2212                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  stated that  it seems  that society  has reached                                                               
"the vanishing point  of decision making," where no  one wants to                                                               
or will make a decision.   Voice mail, he remarked, has become "a                                                               
great  facilitator  of that."    He  related personal  experience                                                               
[being  passed around]  with voice  mail systems.   He  suggested                                                               
that  before any  state agency  is  allowed to  have voice  mail,                                                               
everyone has to call his/her own  number and "deal with it."  For                                                               
somebody who  is a  senior, he emphasized,  it becomes  even more                                                               
important to  have [a  system] that he/she  can understand  and a                                                               
[real person] to speak to, or  somebody who will call back when a                                                               
message is left.                                                                                                                
MS. RECCHIA  responded, "I would  say that they have  hired staff                                                               
to actually answer  the phone, so the person  who's answering the                                                               
phone should  be able to  give information about what  the person                                                               
needs and ... follow up."  She  added that she can't say how well                                                               
it's  working, but  she assured  the committee  that when  people                                                               
call her for  information, she always tells them  who can address                                                               
their concern,  and she tells them  to call her back  if they are                                                               
not able to get services.                                                                                                       
Number 2323                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM  noted that  his mother is  older and  is not                                                               
computer literate.   He said she has had a  couple of strokes and                                                               
doesn't see very  well, so she has difficulty  using a telephone.                                                               
He  stated that  it  is very  frustrating for  her  to deal  with                                                               
roundabout  [menu options  on voice  mails].   He concurred  with                                                               
Chair  Weyhrauch's  previously  stated  concerns  regarding  this                                                               
MS. RECCHIA stated  that there currently is an  effort being made                                                               
to make  information and services  available to caregivers.   She                                                               
continued as follows:                                                                                                           
     Frequently, caregivers  - in addition to  being spouses                                                                    
     - will be children, and  there is a lot of information,                                                                    
     too, that's available to  them in different modalities,                                                                    
     so that there's  ... hopefully kind of  a cross section                                                                    
     in the information that can get out in different ways.                                                                     
Number 2410                                                                                                                     
MS.  DARLIN, in  response  to a  question  from Chair  Weyhrauch,                                                               
confirmed that AARP is in support  of the extension to the sunset                                                               
provision, which is what the  bill would provide.  She reiterated                                                               
the need for  [the Alaska Commission on Aging] to  look after the                                                               
specific needs and concerns of seniors.                                                                                         
Number 2415                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  stated   his  understanding  that  $13                                                               
million would  be lost if the  sunset is not extended.   He asked                                                               
if that is correct.                                                                                                             
MS. DARLIN  responded that  she doesn't know  the answer  to that                                                               
MS. RECCHIA offered the following:                                                                                              
     That [$13  million] would be  the amount of  money that                                                                    
     would  be in  the  nutrition, transportation  services,                                                                    
     and the  family caregiver  program, and also  the Elder                                                                    
     Worker program - Title 5 program.                                                                                          
MS.   RECCHIA,  in   response  to   a  follow-up   question  from                                                               
Representative Gruenberg, said that  the commission does not have                                                               
any connection  with the administration  of the  longevity bonus.                                                               
She  said, "They're  in  a different  division  and they  operate                                                               
[separately] from the commission."                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked if,  therefore, the commission had                                                               
no say  in the planning of  that longevity bonus or  the planning                                                               
to eliminate it.                                                                                                                
MS. RECCHIA responded as follows:                                                                                               
     The  commission ...  did pass  a resolution  asking for                                                                    
     more study  with regards to  the loss of  the longevity                                                                    
     bonus.  ... That was  the position that they took; they                                                                    
     would  like  more  information about  what  the  impact                                                                    
     would be.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said  he  wonders  if  the  commission                                                               
should have  any greater  say in "these  kinds of  services which                                                               
now include senior care."  He  asked if [the Alaska Commission on                                                               
Aging] is the only commission "dealing with those problems."                                                                    
Number 2536                                                                                                                     
MR. LAL  responded that [the  Alaska Commission on Aging]  is the                                                               
main commission.  He added, "Under  the statute ..., this is also                                                               
the only  commission that is  responsible for [the]  planning and                                                               
administration of the senior services."   He noted that there may                                                               
be other  commissions that  may have the  authority to  deal with                                                               
aspects  of  issues  that  concern  the  senior  citizens  -  for                                                               
example, the  Alaska Pioneers' Home advisory  board would address                                                               
issues  specific  to  those facilities.    However,  [the  Alaska                                                               
Commission   on   Aging]  is   the   one   commission  that   has                                                               
comprehensive responsibilities for planning  services.  He added,                                                               
"Most of those are listed under the Older Americans Act."                                                                       
MR. LAL  offered some examples of  recommendations the commission                                                               
recently  gave to  the  director  of the  Division  of Senior  [&                                                               
Disability] Services.   He stated that  there is a lot  that goes                                                               
on that, in the absence of  the Alaska Commission on Aging, would                                                               
certainly have to be delegated  to some staff function within the                                                               
Department of  Health & Social  Services.  As a  citizens' group,                                                               
he said, the commission certainly  can be [the legislators'] eyes                                                               
and ears.   He  proffered that  in the absence  of such  a public                                                               
advocacy group there  probably would not be  a full understanding                                                               
of what's happening in the public.                                                                                              
Number 2661                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG stated  that a  number of  Alaskans are                                                               
concerned about the cuts that  have, possibly unfairly, fallen on                                                               
the  backs of  the seniors,  and  they do  not want  to see  that                                                               
process perpetuated.   He said he  is wondering what the  role of                                                               
the  commission  could be  to  ensure  that that  doesn't  happen                                                               
again.   He questioned  whether the  statutory framework  for the                                                               
commission should be  reviewed to see if the  commission could be                                                               
"given some authority in this area."                                                                                            
Number 2759                                                                                                                     
MR. LAL  noted that although  there has  been some loss  of funds                                                               
for senior  services, the saving  grace is that  federal receipts                                                               
have not been reduced.  The  state must produce "a certain amount                                                               
of match" to receive those funds,  which is something he said the                                                               
state is quite capable of doing.  He continued as follows:                                                                      
     I do  believe that  the seniors  in the  community have                                                                    
     been  concerned  about ...  lack  of  services in  some                                                                    
     areas.   There are  some that were  provided in  FY 04,                                                                    
     which I am assured by  the division director and others                                                                    
     ...  that they  would certainly  be maintained  at that                                                                    
     level.   But,  the  senior population  is  one of  your                                                                    
     fastest growing populations.   And in light  of that, a                                                                    
     provision  has  to  be  made  ahead  of  time  ...  for                                                                    
     expansion of  services, and certainly not  reduction in                                                                    
     any way.  So, please keep that in mind.                                                                                    
     And  I  think the  [Alaska]  Commission  on Aging  does                                                                    
     serve a very significant  function in highlighting some                                                                    
     of  those  needs  through   its  planning  process  and                                                                    
     through  the review  of the  plan every  ... year,  and                                                                    
     every  two [to]  three years.   So,  that's a  document                                                                    
     that  certainly is  of value,  if you  are the  one ...                                                                    
     looking at what is available  and what needs to be made                                                                    
     available to fully address the needs of the seniors.                                                                       
Number 2833                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG offered his  understanding that there is                                                               
no  requirement  that  any  cuts like  the  longevity  bonus,  or                                                               
implementation of  things like senior  care, be done  through the                                                               
commission  and integrated  into the  plan.   He  stated that  he                                                               
would like [the  commission] to consider whether  there should be                                                               
such a requirement.                                                                                                             
MR.  LAL said  the commission  would  consider that  at its  next                                                               
Number 2867                                                                                                                     
MS. RECCHIA noted  that a commission meeting would  take place on                                                               
February 18-20 at the Prospector Hotel.                                                                                         
Number 2890                                                                                                                     
MS. DARLIN, regarding the meeting,  said, "They will be traveling                                                               
that Tuesday."                                                                                                                  
Number 2900                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that HB 394 was heard and held.                                                                       

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