Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/07/2004 08:44 AM Senate FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
     HOUSE BILL NO. 559 am                                                                                                      
     "An Act extending the termination of the state training and                                                                
     employment program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                  
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Co-Chair Wilken  noted that HB 559 am, Version 23-LS1954\A.A,  would                                                            
extend the State's employment  training program until the year 2008.                                                            
He noted that  a Department of Labor and Workforce  Development zero                                                            
fiscal note accompanies the legislation.                                                                                        
GREG  O'CLARAY,  Commissioner,  Department  of Labor  and  Workforce                                                            
Development,  informed   that this  legislation   would  extend  the                                                            
State's  "successfully implemented"  State  Training and  Employment                                                            
Program (STEP)  for unemployed workers. He noted that  approximately                                                            
18,000 unemployed  workers "who were unable to be  served by federal                                                            
or  other programs,"  have  received  training through  the  program                                                            
since its inception.  He urged the Committee members  to support the                                                            
Senator  Dyson commented  that the  ultimate success  of a  training                                                            
program is not  determined by the number of individuals  who receive                                                            
training,  but   is  rather  determined  by  the  number   of  those                                                            
individuals who obtain employment.                                                                                              
Commissioner O'Claray communicated  that more than 90-percent of the                                                            
individuals who completed  the training obtained jobs as outlined in                                                            
a Workforce  Investment System report  [copy not provided]  that was                                                            
distributed  to Legislators earlier  in the year. He noted  that the                                                            
success of this  program supports Governor Frank Murkowski's  Alaska                                                            
Hire program. The specifics  of that program, he continued, are that                                                            
the person  must desire to  work; the person  must be a resident  of                                                            
the State with  the intention to remain in the State;  and must have                                                            
been previously  employed in a job that was covered  by unemployment                                                            
insurance. Continuing,  he shared that the intent of this program is                                                            
to reduce the number of people who are collecting unemployment.                                                                 
Senator  Bunde asked  regarding  the  job market  opportunities  for                                                            
persons who complete the training.                                                                                              
Commissioner  O'Claray  responded  that one  component  of the  STEP                                                            
program was  to evaluate the job market  in order to determine  what                                                            
jobs exist and  to attempt to establish "a pre-committed  job" prior                                                            
to training  being conducted. He attested  that this pre-commitment                                                             
is a factor  of the "most successful"  training programs.  He shared                                                            
that 4,500  new jobs were  created by the  State's economy  in 2003,                                                            
and that  the continued  development  of such things  as the  mining                                                            
industry  would  provide  sustainable   employment,  "which  is  the                                                            
ultimate goal."                                                                                                                 
Senator Bunde  voiced comfort in knowing that the  training provided                                                            
was appropriate to the job market.                                                                                              
Senator  Dyson  moved  to  report  the  bill   from  Committee  with                                                            
individual recommendations and accompanying zero fiscal note.                                                                   
There being no objection,  HB 559am was REPORTED from Committee with                                                            
zero fiscal  note #1, dated  April 22, 2004  from the Department  of                                                            
Labor and Workforce Development.                                                                                                

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