Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/02/2003 09:00 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL NO. 124 "An Act relating to grants for alcoholism and drug abuse programs; and providing for an effective date." AT EASE 10:06 AM / 10:07 AM This was the first hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance Committee. Co-Chair Wilken explained that this bill, sponsored by the Governor, proposes to increase the required local match levels for alcohol and drug abuse programs from ten percent to twenty-five percent. He noted that this change would result in a $1.61 million reduction in State spending. ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, Department of Health and Social Services, affirmed Co-chair Wilken's explanation of the bill, and he added that this is "the appropriate time" to change the level of local match specified in statute. He stated that while the statute regarding the local match level would be changed, language would remain "that would allow the Department to waive the local match in whole or in part, upon a determination that it would not be feasible in fact for the grantee to generate that local match." He referenced the Department of Health and Social Services seven-page listing of grant programs titled "SB 124\HB 167 Increase Local Match Requirement for Substance Abuse Grants (Revised 3/12)" [copy on file] that would be subject to the provisions of this bill. He noted that some entities, specifically small rural based programs such as rural based suicide prevention programs, would be exempt from the local match requirement. Additionally, he qualified, some programs such as the substance abuse treatment programs for women and children would be held harmless from the increase. Senator Taylor surmised that tax-based communities would be subject to the increased match levels; however, he noted, most other entities are exempt. Mr. Lindstrom expressed that while there is no expectation that "local governments would necessarily be stepping in to provide the local match; …there is an underlying assumption that larger communities, where many of these non-profits organizations operate, have a greater ability to raise funds." Senator Taylor asked how local match funds are currently provided. Mr. Lindstrom responded that client fees, grants, foundation funding, and local community fundraising are among the variety of methods that non-profits use to raise funds. He acknowledged that while the increased match level would be a challenge for some programs, he opined that, "the programs would be successful…in generating this additional match." Senator Bunde asked why the Anchorage domestic violence program, as specified on page four of the aforementioned list of grantees, would be exempt from the local match requirement. Mr. Lindstrom verified that the program is exempt from the local match. He explained that certain programs for women and children would be exempted; although he was uncertain whether this program is one of them. Senator Bunde further questioned why the suicide prevention program on St. George Island, as specified on page six of the list, was exempt from the match, as he contended, the community's gambling revenue equates to $15,000 per person per year. He suggested that the list of grantees be further reviewed. Senator Olson specified that the gambling revenue referred to was in response to a fundraising endeavor. Senator Taylor asked why an Anchorage program for Services for Families-Women with Children was exempt from the local match as identified on page four of the list, while a similar program in the smaller community of Sitka was specified for the ten percent match level. Co-Chair Wilken asked for information regarding the 10%(A) and 10%(B) notations designated on the grantee listing. Mr. Lindstrom explained that these notations are footnoted on page seven of the aforementioned grantee list as follows: "10%(A) Community Action against Substance Abuse programs receiving grant awards of $30,000 or less; and 10%(B) designates treatment for youth, woman and children and special projects." KAREN PEARSON, Acting Director, Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Department of Health and Social Services responded to Senator Taylor's question regarding the equitable methodology for determining which programs are exempt or specified to remain at the ten percent level by responding that she was newly appointed to this position and would supply the requested information to the Committee upon further research. Co-Chair Wilken asked that the Fairbanks Native Association program, another similar program specified at the ten percent level listed on page three of the report, also be included in the research. Co-chair Wilken ordered the bill HELD in Committee.