Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/02/2003 09:00 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                            
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                                                            
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                                                            
Co-chair Wilken ordered the bill HELD in Committee.                                                                             

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