Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/30/2004 09:04 AM Senate FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 394(HES)                                                                                             
     "An Act extending the termination date of the Alaska                                                                       
     Commission on Aging and making technical revisions to                                                                      
     citations related to the commission."                                                                                      
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Co-Chair  Wilken explained  that this legislation  would extend  the                                                            
Alaska  Commission  on Aging  until  June 30,  2008.  A Division  of                                                            
Legislative  Audit  report  [copy on  file]  dated October  1,  2003                                                            
supports the extension.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE JIM HOLM,  the bill's sponsor, informed the Committee                                                            
that this bill  would extend the Alaska  Commission on Aging  beyond                                                            
its  termination   date.  This  Commission   functions  within   the                                                            
Department of  Health and Social Services and is charged  with broad                                                            
responsibilities  including  providing  assistance  to  seniors  and                                                            
informing  Alaskans  of  the  needs  of  this  older  community.  It                                                            
provides dignity  and independence  to seniors through programs  and                                                            
services  funded by  the Commission,  and  allows  more than  53,000                                                            
seniors to lead useful  and meaningful lives. He urged the Committee                                                            
to support the bill.                                                                                                            
Co-Chair Wilken  announced that as per the Committee's  request, Pat                                                            
Davidson,  Legislative Auditor,  Legislative  Audit Division,  is in                                                            
attendance to respond to questions regarding the Audit.                                                                         
Senator  Dyson  asked   the  Department's  reaction   to  the  Audit                                                            
STEVE  ASHMAN,  Director,   Division  of  Senior  and  Disabilities                                                             
Services, Department  of Health and  Social Services, testified  via                                                            
teleconference   from  Anchorage   and  stated  that  some   of  the                                                            
deficiencies   highlighted  in  the   Audit  pertaining   to  senior                                                            
employment services  and other components have either  been or would                                                            
be corrected.  The Division  was re-organized  within the past  year                                                            
and  that efforts  are  being undertaken  to  insure that  it is  in                                                            
compliance with State and federal program regulations.                                                                          
Senator  Dyson,  noting  that  the  Legislature   could  extend  the                                                            
termination date beyond  the year 2008, asked whether this should be                                                            
a  consideration  as the  issues of  concern  are known,  are  being                                                            
addressed, and  the aging population of the State  would continue to                                                            
Representative  Holm agreed  that the Commission  is addressing  its                                                            
problems;  however, he stated  that due to  the fact that the  Audit                                                            
does reflect  that there are concerns,  extending the Commission  to                                                            
the year 2008 is appropriate  at this time. He stated that a longer-                                                            
term extension might be considered in the year 2008.                                                                            
Co-Chair  Green, in  response to  Senator Dyson's  question,  stated                                                            
that it might  be possible in the future to consolidate  groups that                                                            
address aging  and senior care issues. Therefore,  she supported the                                                            
extension  date,  as proposed,  in  order to  allow  for merging  of                                                            
boards and commissions in the future, as deemed appropriate.                                                                    
Co-Chair Green  offered a motion to  report the bill from  Committee                                                            
with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal note.                                                                   
There  being  no  objection,  CS  HB  394(HES)   was  REPORTED  from                                                            
Committee  with fiscal note  #2 in the amount  of $417,900  from the                                                            
Department of Health and Social Services.                                                                                       

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