Legislature(2019 - 2020)SENATE FINANCE 532

03/13/2019 09:00 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SB 53 UNIVERSITY REPORTING REQUIREMENTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ SB 43 EXTEND BIG GAME COMMERCIAL SERVICES BOARD TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
+= SB 36 EXTEND BOARD OF NURSING TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 36 Out of Committee
SENATE BILL NO. 43                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act extending the termination  date of the Big Game                                                                    
     Commercial  Services   Board;  and  providing   for  an                                                                    
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:41:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair von Imhof relayed that  previous discussions on the                                                                    
bill  had  concerned  guides keeping  their  licenses  while                                                                    
under  investigation. She  reminded the  committee that  the                                                                    
division staff,  board members,  and legislators,  could not                                                                    
comment  on any  specific  details on  any issues  currently                                                                    
being  investigated,   or  in  an   administrative  process,                                                                    
including appeals.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:42:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator David  Wilson, Sponsor,  spoke to  SB 43.  He stated                                                                    
that the bill was originally  thought to be simple, but many                                                                    
issues had arisen. He reminded  that the bill only concerned                                                                    
a board extension.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Wilson read  from the  sponsor  statement (copy  on                                                                    
file):                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Senate  Bill 43  extends the  termination date  for the                                                                    
     Big  Game Commercial  Services Board  until June  30th,                                                                    
     2025.  The board  consists of  two licensed  Registered                                                                    
     Guide-Outfitters,   two   licensed  Transporters,   two                                                                    
     private  landholders,  two   public  members,  and  one                                                                    
     member from the Board of Game.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Legislative Audit conducted their  review of this board                                                                    
     and  determined  that  "The audit  concluded  that  the                                                                    
     board  served  the   public's  interest  by  conducting                                                                    
     meetings in  accordance with applicable  laws, amending                                                                    
     regulations  to improve  occupations under  the board's                                                                    
     purview, and  supporting changes  by the  Department of                                                                    
     Law  to  improve  the timeliness  of  the  disciplinary                                                                    
     process.  In accordance  with  AS 08.03.010(c)(9),  the                                                                    
     board is  scheduled to terminate  on June 30,  2019. We                                                                    
     recommend  that  the  legislature  extend  the  board's                                                                    
     termination to June  30, 2025, which is  two years less                                                                    
   than the eight-year maximum allowed for in statute."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     The  Big  Game  Commercial   Services  Board  plays  an                                                                    
     important   role   in   managing  the   activities   of                                                                    
     commercial game hunters in the  interest of the State's                                                                    
     wildlife resources.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
   Thank you for your consideration of this legislation.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wilson  noted that Legislative Audit  had made three                                                                    
recommendations for improvement to  the board. He noted that                                                                    
the recommendations were not only  the purview of the board,                                                                    
but   of  the   Division  of   Corporations,  Business   and                                                                    
Professional Licensing. He read  the recommendations on page                                                                    
1  of the  document "A  Sunset Review  of the  Department of                                                                    
Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Big   Game                                                                       
Commercial   Services Board (board)," (copy on file):                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     1.   The  Division   of  Corporations,   Business,  and                                                                    
     Professional   Licensing's   (DCBPL)  director   should                                                                    
     improve  management  oversight   procedures  to  ensure                                                                    
     required  documentation  is   obtained,  reviewed,  and                                                                    
     retained to support licensure.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     2.   DCBPL's   chief   investigator   should   increase                                                                    
     oversight to improve the timeliness of investigations.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     3. The  Office of the Governor,  Boards and Commissions                                                                    
     director  should  work  with   the  board  to  identify                                                                    
     potential applicants in a timely manner.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wilson continued that DCBPL  had recognized the need                                                                    
for  additional  supervisory   support  to  provide  quality                                                                    
control. Also, DCBPL had added  supervisors - an addition to                                                                    
examiner's  work in  improving training  and procedures.  In                                                                    
addition,  there  was  a new  chief  investigator,  and  two                                                                    
senior investigators  to provide more quality  assurance. He                                                                    
asserted  that  the  division had  heard  the  message  from                                                                    
Legislative  Audit and  was  working  to hold  investigators                                                                    
accountable for paperwork.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:45:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Wilson directed  attention to  a letter  from Jason                                                                    
Bunch, a member  of the Big Game  Commercial Services Board,                                                                    
(copy on  file) that addressed  open cases. He  relayed that                                                                    
in FY 2015, the board  carried a deficit of approximately $1                                                                    
million, but  would end FY  2018 with a positive  balance of                                                                    
approximately  $100,000.  He  said  that the  board  had  56                                                                    
current open cases, 19 of  which were prepared for review by                                                                    
the  board  in  April  2019.  He said  that  13  cases  were                                                                    
currently  active with  Alaska Wildlife  Troopers, 10  cases                                                                    
were at some level of  litigation, 2 cases were complete and                                                                    
awaiting  action,  12  cases  were  ongoing.  He  said  that                                                                    
investigations  could  be  lengthy  and  consisted  of  many                                                                    
levels  of scrutiny.  He said  that once  DPS closed  a case                                                                    
they would  contact the division with  direction for guides.                                                                    
He noted  that the duties of  the board were outlined  in AS                                                                    
08.54.60.  He mentioned  that the  main  issue stemmed  from                                                                    
imposing disciplinary  sanctions upon licensees.  He thought                                                                    
that perhaps  the issue  could be  addressed in  a different                                                                    
bill and was not addressed in SB 43.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:50:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wilson  reviewed the did a  brief sectional analysis                                                                    
of the bill. He said that  Section 1 would extend the sunset                                                                    
date  to  June 30,  2025,  and  Section  2 provided  for  an                                                                    
immediate effective date.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:50:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  noted that the  board extension  was proposed                                                                    
for  six  years.  He  wondered   about  the  length  of  the                                                                    
extension and asked whether the  proposed extension had come                                                                    
from the auditor's report.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wilson had relied upon  expertise of the Division of                                                                    
Legislative  Audit and  had considered  their recommendation                                                                    
when crafting the bill.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:51:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  von  Imhof reminded  that  there  would be  public                                                                    
testimony. She relayed the list of invited testifiers.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:52:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KRIS  CURTIS,   LEGISLATIVE  AUDITOR,  ALASKA   DIVISION  OF                                                                    
LEGISLATIVE AUDIT,  addressed the document "A  Sunset Review                                                                    
of  the  Department  of Commerce,  Community,  and  Economic                                                                    
Development,  Big Game  Commercial Services  Board (board),"                                                                    
(copy on  file). She  stated that  the audit  concluded that                                                                    
the  board  served  the   public's  interest  by  conducting                                                                    
meetings  in  accordance   with  applicable  laws,  amending                                                                    
regulations  to   improve  occupations  under   the  board's                                                                    
purview, and supporting changes by  the Department of Law to                                                                    
improve   the  timeliness   of  the   disciplinary  process.                                                                    
Additionally,  the board  worked  to eliminate  the over  $1                                                                    
million deficit reported in the prior 2015 sunset audit.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Curtis furthered  that the  audit  also concluded  that                                                                    
board licenses  were not consistently supported  by adequate                                                                    
documentation,   a  high   number   of  investigations   had                                                                    
unjustified   periods  of   inactivity,   and  three   board                                                                    
positions were  vacant for an  extended period.  She relayed                                                                    
that  the division  recommended a  6-year extension  for the                                                                    
board.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Curtis referenced Page 8 of the audit:                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     As of May  31, 2018, there was a total  of 1,219 active                                                                    
     licensees, representing a 20  percent decrease from the                                                                    
     1,532 reported in the 2015  sunset audit.5 According to                                                                    
     the  board chair,  the  decrease is  due,  in part,  to                                                                    
     guides  retiring   and  a   reduced  interest   in  the                                                                    
     profession.  Additionally,  the  chair  reported  there                                                                    
     were   less  transporters   because  many   changed  to                                                                    
     operating   as  air   taxis  to   avoid  the   licensed                                                                    
     transporter reporting requirements and fees.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     As of April 2015,  there were 151 licensed transporters                                                                    
     compared  to  90 as  of  May  2018, representing  a  40                                                                    
     percent  reduction  in   the  number  of  transporters.                                                                    
     Auditors also  noted a large  drop in  assistant guides                                                                    
     and  registered   guide-outfitters.  The   prior  audit                                                                    
     reported  742  and  399 licensees  respectively  as  of                                                                    
     April 2015.  The numbers dropped  to 583 and 322  as of                                                                    
     May 2018.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Curtis  noted the schedule of  revenues and expenditures                                                                    
on Page  10. She  relayed that  the board  had a  surplus of                                                                    
just  over  $132,000  at  the  end of  FY  2018,  which  was                                                                    
significant  because the  board had  been able  to eliminate                                                                    
and over $1 million deficit.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Curtis read the recommendations for improvements found                                                                      
on Page 14:                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Recommendation No. 1:                                                                                                    
     DCBPL's  director should  improve management  oversight                                                                  
     procedures   to   ensure  required   documentation   is                                                                  
     obtained, reviewed, and retained to support licensure.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The audit  found that DCBPL staff  did not consistently                                                                    
     license   individuals   according   to   statutes   and                                                                    
     regulations. Fourteen  of 25 new licenses  (56 percent)                                                                    
     tested as  part of  the audit  did not  have sufficient                                                                    
     documentation to support  licensure and four applicants                                                                    
     had  more  than  one deficiency  identified.  Deficient                                                                    
     documentation included:                                                                                                    
          .notdef seven license files were missing   or  had                                                                    
          outdated   background  checks   required  by   law                                                                    
         (public safety or wildlife enforcement);                                                                               
          .notdef two lacked  adequate    investigatory   or                                                                    
          supervisory  review  and   one  lacked  additional                                                                    
          board  approval  of   applicants  potentially  not                                                                    
          meeting    professional    fitness    requirements                                                                    
          required by AS 08.01.075(c) and DCBPL policy;                                                                         
          .notdef one license lacked a board majority vote to                                                                   
          support  licensure  when  an  investigation  of  a                                                                    
          professional fitness  question was  completed. Per                                                                    
          DCBPL  policy, the  application  should have  been                                                                    
          approved by the board;                                                                                                
          .notdef one lacked a valid first aid certification                                                                    
          required by 12 AAC 75.130(a)(3); and,                                                                                 
          .notdef one lacked verification of an out-of-state                                                                    
          license  in  good  standing  required  by  12  AAC                                                                    
          75.130(a)(8).                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     In 2005 the  board delegated to DCBPL  the authority to                                                                    
     review   applications  and   issue  licenses.   Per  AS                                                                    
     08.01.050(a)(3),  (9), and  (14), DCBPL  is responsible                                                                    
     for overseeing  the licensing  activity for  the board.                                                                    
     The  deficiencies  were  caused,   in  part,  by  DCBPL                                                                    
     management's lack  of adequate oversight  procedures to                                                                    
     ensure all  board required documentation  was obtained,                                                                    
     reviewed,   and   retained    to   support   licensure.                                                                    
     Additionally,  seven  of  the 25  new  licensing  files                                                                    
     lacked  complete  application  checklists.  Application                                                                    
     checklists  are  DCBPL's  internal  control  to  ensure                                                                    
     files are  complete and that  all requirements  are met                                                                    
     prior  to  licensure.  According to  DCBPL  management,                                                                    
     there  was turnover  in  the  staff position  providing                                                                    
     support  for   this  board  that  contributed   to  the                                                                    
     deficiencies.  Not licensing  in  accordance with  laws                                                                    
     increases  the risk  to public  safety and  the State's                                                                    
     wildlife resources.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     We  recommend   DCBPL's  director   improve  management                                                                    
     oversight procedures  to ensure  required documentation                                                                    
     is   obtained,  reviewed,   and  retained   to  support                                                                    
     licensure.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:56:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms.   Curtis    continued   to   discuss    the   divisions                                                                     
recommendations:                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Recommendation No. 2:                                                                                                    
     DCBPL's  chief investigator  should increase  oversight                                                                  
     to improve the timeliness of investigations.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The audit  reviewed 22 of  145 cases open for  over 180                                                                    
     days between July  2015 and May 2018. Twenty  of the 22                                                                    
     cases  were  found  to   have  unjustified  periods  of                                                                    
     inactivity  ranging  from  two  months  to  18  months.                                                                    
     According  to   the  chief  investigator,   periods  of                                                                    
     inactivity were  due, in  part, to  a lack  of adequate                                                                    
     resources  to  investigate  the  large  case  load  and                                                                    
     supervisors not adequately monitoring cases.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Per  AS  08.01.050(a)(19),  DCBPL  is  responsible  for                                                                    
     investigating  and  monitoring  occupational  licensing                                                                    
     activity. Investigations  and complaints that  sit idle                                                                    
     for  extended  periods  increase  the  risk  to  public                                                                    
     safety and the State's wildlife resources.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     We  recommend   DCBPL's  chief   investigator  increase                                                                    
     oversight to improve the timeliness of investigations.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Recommendation No. 3:                                                                                                    
     The  Office of  the  Governor,  Boards and  Commissions                                                                  
     director  should  work  with   the  board  to  identify                                                                  
     potential applicants in a timely manner.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                              
     From   July  2015   through   May   2018,  a   licensed                                                                    
     transporter  board position  and  a private  landholder                                                                    
     board position  were vacant  for six  months due  to an                                                                    
     inability    to    identify   interested    applicants.                                                                    
     Furthermore, one  board position  occupied by  a member                                                                    
     of  the  Board of  Game  was  vacant for  eight  months                                                                    
     because Office of the  Governor, Boards and Commissions                                                                    
     staff  were   not  notified  of  the   vacancy.  As  of                                                                    
     September 2018, all board  positions were filled except                                                                    
     one landholder position.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Per AS 08.54.591, the board  is statutorily required to                                                                    
     consist  of nine  members  covering  specific areas  of                                                                    
     expertise   and  experience   including  two   licensed                                                                    
     transporters  and  two  members who  represent  private                                                                    
     landholders  affected by  guided hunting  activities or                                                                    
     transportation   services.   The   private   landholder                                                                    
     positions  must   not  hold  a  guide   or  transporter                                                                    
     license.  According  to   the  Boards  and  Commissions                                                                    
     staff, the  two licensed  transporters and  two private                                                                    
     landholder positions  have been  difficult to  fill due                                                                    
     to  a limited  pool  of  qualified candidates.  Private                                                                    
     land  affected  by  guided  hunting  or  transportation                                                                    
     activities is often owned  by large private landholders                                                                    
     which   limits  the   pool  of   potential  applicants.                                                                    
     Additionally,  the  number   of  licensed  transporters                                                                    
     decreased  40  percent from  FY  15  to FY  18  further                                                                    
     limiting the pool of potential applicants.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Board vacancies  reduce input from the  specific groups                                                                    
     represented  by  the  vacant positions.  Vacancies  may                                                                    
     also result  in a  lack of quorum  and an  inability to                                                                    
     efficiently conduct board business.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     We recommend  the Boards and Commissions  director work                                                                    
     with the  board to  identify potential applicants  in a                                                                    
     timely manner.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Curtis stated  that response to the audit  began on Page                                                                    
23. She relayed  that the commissioner of  DCCED agreed with                                                                    
recommendations 1 and 2 and  had taken steps to resolve both                                                                    
recommendations. The Office of  the Governor  response could                                                                    
be found on  Page 27; they agreed to work  to fill vacancies                                                                    
in  a timely  manner. She  concluded that  the chair  of the                                                                    
boards  response  was on Page  29. The chair agreed  to work                                                                    
with  the governors   office to  fill vacancies  and assured                                                                    
the division  that at  the time of  the response,  all board                                                                    
seats were filled.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:57:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair von Imhof solicited questions from the committee.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:57:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked  why the  6-year  extension was  chosen                                                                    
over a shorter sunset timeframe.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Curtis stated  that the  most recent  sunset audit  had                                                                    
been three  years previously, which  was a  short extension.                                                                    
She stated  that due to  the deficit the  recommendation had                                                                    
been for the shorter extension  of 3 years. She related that                                                                    
the board was serving the  public interest but did typically                                                                    
have  issues   with  investigations.  She  noted   that  the                                                                    
licensing  issues  were  new.  She  said  that  rather  than                                                                    
recommending the maximum  extension of 8 years,  6 years had                                                                    
been determined in recognition of the two lingering issues.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:59:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wielechowski thought that  there had been continuing                                                                    
problems with  the board. In  2011, the board had  only been                                                                    
extended for  4 years,  and for  3 in  2015. He  thought the                                                                    
issues   had   been   substantial.  He   asked   about   the                                                                    
recommendation  for   the  6-year  extension   and  wondered                                                                    
whether  there this  was because  of  improvements in  board                                                                    
practices.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Curtis  responded  that the  board  had  addressed  the                                                                    
matter   of   hunt  records,   which   were   now  used   by                                                                    
municipalities  in the  assessment of  taxes. She  noted the                                                                    
board  had  addressed  the  deficit   and  stated  that,  in                                                                    
general, the board had improved.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:00:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wielechowski asked whether  the board had placed the                                                                    
responsibility of its issues on the DCBPL.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms.   Curtis  thought   it  was   a  fair   assessment  with                                                                    
recommendations  1  and  2.  She said  that  the  board  had                                                                    
delegated the responsibility for  issuing licenses to DCBPL,                                                                    
but  the board  was still  accountable for  issues and  were                                                                    
required to provide oversight.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:01:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Wielechowski  asked  how  to fix  the  problems  of                                                                    
deficiencies at DCBPL.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Curtis stated  that the  Division of  Legislative Audit                                                                    
would  not  be  looking  at   DCBPL  for  another  6  years,                                                                    
regarding   this  board.   She  stressed   that  DCBPL   was                                                                    
investigated every year for sunset  audits for various other                                                                    
boards.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:02:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Shower was  concerned about  the continuing  issues                                                                    
with the board. He wondered  whether the extension should be                                                                    
shorter than 6 years. He  asked what mechanism was available                                                                    
to  consider  the  issues  after the  passage  of  a  6-year                                                                    
extension.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Curtis stated  that  consideration  through the  sunset                                                                    
audit process  would not  be available  for six  years after                                                                    
the passage of  the bill, however, a special  audit could be                                                                    
done.  The  legislature  could always  go  directly  to  the                                                                    
department for updated information.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Senator   Shower  wondered   whether  special   audits  took                                                                    
additional time and money.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Curtis  stated that  the  performance  audit would  not                                                                    
increase the budget of the division.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair von Imhof noted that  Ms. Curtis had several audits                                                                    
to  balance and  was only  one layer  in evaluating  various                                                                    
boards.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:05:24 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SARA CHAMBERS, DIRECTOR,  DIVISION OF CORPORATIONS, BUSINESS                                                                    
AND   PROFESSIONAL   LICENSING,  DEPARTMENT   OF   COMMERCE,                                                                    
COMMUNITY  AND ECONOMIC  DEVELOPMENT,  stated  that she  had                                                                    
been  asked to  provide a  response from  the administration                                                                    
and   focus  on   some  concerns   that  had   been  raised,                                                                    
particularly  regarding  investigations.   She  stated  that                                                                    
DCBPL  oversaw  21  licensing   boards,  and  22  additional                                                                    
professions that  were managed  without a board,  within the                                                                    
division. She  stated that  the division  always appreciated                                                                    
the audit process and agreed  with the audit findings. There                                                                    
had  been  significant  turnover  in  the  single  licensing                                                                    
position for  the program,  as well  as the  supervisor that                                                                    
oversaw the program. she relayed  that the audit, as well as                                                                    
other audits  of other boards, had  shared similar concerns;                                                                    
it was a matter of  balancing keeping government lean, while                                                                    
being able to  do mandated work. Since she  was appointed as                                                                    
director, she  felt accountable for her  staff responding to                                                                    
audit concerns.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Chambers thought  Senator Wilson  had provided  a great                                                                    
overview of  some of the  concerns about  investigations and                                                                    
the  governor had  recently authorized  Administrative Order                                                                    
306, which  provides for the consolidation  of investigative                                                                    
activities and personnel in the  Department of Law during FY                                                                    
2020. She shared that the  division would be partnering with                                                                    
other  agencies   during  the  transition  to   assure  that                                                                    
everyone  understood   the  expectations   of  investigative                                                                    
responsibilities.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:08:42 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Chambers addressed  the subject  of investigations  and                                                                    
noted  that  concerns  raised  in  the  audit  pertained  to                                                                    
documentation.    There   could    be    long   delays    in                                                                    
investigations, but if the  matters were well-monitored, the                                                                    
delays  could  be  substantiated and  justified.  Since  the                                                                    
closure  of the  May 2018  audit period,  standard operating                                                                    
procedures  required mandatory  documentation  of each  case                                                                    
must be  completed every 30  to 45 days; meaning  that there                                                                    
would be no  case, in any of the 43  professions, that would                                                                    
go longer  than 45  days without written  justification. She                                                                    
said that  a supervisory  review was  mandated for  every 90                                                                    
days, at which time every  supervisor would sit down with an                                                                    
investigator  to assess  the cases  in each  profession. She                                                                    
believed  that maintaining  management accountability  would                                                                    
alleviate the issue.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:10:44 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Chambers asserted  that there could be  many reasons for                                                                    
delays in investigations. She thought  there had been public                                                                    
concern over the  length of delays. She  thought due process                                                                    
could  delay  the process.  She  said  that Alaska  Wildlife                                                                    
Troopers  were  often  pursuing  criminal  indictments  that                                                                    
would  ten  result  in  a  licensing  finding.  Because  the                                                                    
division was  not trained to  be criminal  investigators, it                                                                    
partnered  with the  Department of  Public Safety  (DPS) and                                                                    
put  cases   in  a   monitor  status    in  case  management                                                                    
software, updating them every 30 to 45 days.                                                                                    
10:12:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Chambers continued  to say  that  the criminal  process                                                                    
could take  up to two  years but stressed that  the division                                                                    
recognized   the   responsibility   to  review   the   cases                                                                    
regularly.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:12:25 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Chambers relayed  that any  board was  able to  issue a                                                                    
summary  suspension   if  it  were  found   that  there  was                                                                    
immediate  danger,  or  risk   of  danger,  to  the  public.                                                                    
Examples  of a  summary  suspensions  included a  healthcare                                                                    
provider accused  of sexual assault  of a patient.  She used                                                                    
the example  of a real  case that included the  discovery of                                                                    
child pornography  on a physicians  computer.  She said that                                                                    
in such  cases summary suspensions  were swift. She  did not                                                                    
often  find that  wildlife violations  posed the  same risk.                                                                    
She explained that if a  licensee wounded a fellow guide, or                                                                    
brandished a  weapon, that would be  strictly scrutinized by                                                                    
the  board.  She added  that  wonton  waste  of game  was  a                                                                    
serious  concern  in  the  state   and  was  an  example  of                                                                    
something that  happened that was  not of immediate  risk to                                                                    
the public.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:14:40 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Chambers  said that  often the  process could  be slowed                                                                    
with the  wait of  a response from  a defendant.  She stated                                                                    
that defendants  sometimes did not  want to respond  or were                                                                    
waiting on an  attorney. She relayed that  a reviewing board                                                                    
member  would meet  with investigators  and  then provide  a                                                                    
professional review.  She said  that without the  board, the                                                                    
division would  have to hire  out for that  expertise, which                                                                    
would increase cost to the state and licensees.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:15:52 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Chambers  continued, citing  a  delay  in board  action                                                                    
regarding  the appeal  process. She  reminded the  committee                                                                    
that  the license  was a  property  right and  could not  be                                                                    
easily curtailed  or taken  away. She  noted that  the board                                                                    
took  disciplinary   action  on  a  license   when  one  was                                                                    
warranted by the states administrative process.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:17:20 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  von Imhof  thanked Ms.  Chambers for  the thorough                                                                    
report. She  pointed out the  two layers  to investigations:                                                                    
criminal and civil. She thought  it was important to discuss                                                                    
the differences  between criminal and  civil investigations;                                                                    
and acknowledge  that there should be  more frequent updated                                                                    
to pending files.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair von  Imhof continued her remarks.  She related that                                                                    
wildlife  violations  were  not  seen as  risky  as  medical                                                                    
license  violations. She  wondered whether  the grounds  for                                                                    
revocation   of  wildlife   licenses  could   be  found   in                                                                    
regulation  or statute.  She  felt  that hunters  recreating                                                                    
outside of  season, or outside  designated areas,  could put                                                                    
the public in harms way.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:19:45 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wielechowski referenced the audit:                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     The audit  reviewed 22 of  145 cases open for  over 180                                                                    
     days between July  2015 and May 2018. Twenty  of the 22                                                                    
     cases  were  found  to   have  unjustified  periods  of                                                                    
     inactivity  ranging  from  two  months  to  18  months.                                                                    
     According  to   the  chief  investigator,   periods  of                                                                    
     inactivity were  due, in  part, to  a lack  of adequate                                                                    
     resources  to  investigate  the  large  case  load  and                                                                    
     supervisors not adequately monitoring cases.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wielechowski  stated that there had  been no mention                                                                    
of  waiting  for  criminal   investigation  or  the  appeals                                                                    
process. He  asked whether Ms.  Chambers disagreed  with the                                                                    
findings and whether the division  had adequate resources to                                                                    
monitor cases.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Chambers thought  the findings  were reflective  of her                                                                    
testimony. She  had checked with the  senior investigator to                                                                    
ask whether  there were  enough investigative  resources and                                                                    
that they did not believe that  there was a current need for                                                                    
additional investigators  for the program. She  assured that                                                                    
committee that cross training work was being done.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:21:48 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Micciche  referenced a case where  wildlife troopers                                                                    
had  incurred  significant  cost  investigating  a  case  of                                                                    
wonton  waste and  falsification of  hunt records.  He noted                                                                    
that  the   defendants  license  was  currently   valid.  He                                                                    
wondered  whether the  defendants license  should have  been                                                                    
revoked while under investigation.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:22:58 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:24:06 AM                                                                                                                   
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair von Imhof requested the  current status of the case                                                                    
referenced by Senator Micciche.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Chambers  stated  that  the case  was  in  process  and                                                                    
currently  with the  Office  of  Administrative Hearings  as                                                                    
part  of  the  civil  process. She  could  not  specifically                                                                    
address the case.  In general, there was an  ability for the                                                                    
board to act  and any licensee to have  that action reviewed                                                                    
by an administrative law judge.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:25:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Micciche  asked  if hypothetically,  in  a  similar                                                                    
case, the  department would make a  recommendation to revoke                                                                    
or suspend the license.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Chambers  stated  that  once  a  criminal  process  was                                                                    
concluded, and the  licenses was found guilty  of a criminal                                                                    
violation,  the  board  would  review  the  information  and                                                                    
documentation and  make a  recommendation for  discipline up                                                                    
to revocation if necessary. She  thought the board had shown                                                                    
great leadership in setting forth  a disciplinary matrix and                                                                    
would  take appropriate  action. The  licensee could  appeal                                                                    
any decision.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:27:44 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  von Imhof  hoped Henry  Tiffany could  clarify the                                                                    
disciplinary matrix written in statute.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bishop  asked if  Ms. Chambers  had seen  the letter                                                                    
from  BGCSB board  member  Jason Bunch  (copy  on file).  He                                                                    
quoted the letter:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     As a member  of the Big Game  Commercial Services Board                                                                    
     (BGCSB), I am  amazed at the amount of mis- information                                                                    
     that  is  placed  on  public  record  during  committee                                                                    
     hearings.   I would  like to  respond to  one statement                                                                    
     that has been made repeatedly during public testimony.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     "The BGCS  Board has an  extensive case backlog  with a                                                                    
     resounding 200 plus investigations open".                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Currently, the  Investigative Division of  the Division                                                                    
     of Commerce  who provides  services for  licenses which                                                                    
     are under  the purview  of the BGCSB  has approximately                                                                    
     56 open  cases.  It  is important to realize  case logs                                                                    
     are  ongoing, some  will close  soon while  others will                                                                    
     surface.    The  number  of open  cases  is  constantly                                                                    
     changing due to the  consistent and extremely efficient                                                                    
     work completed daily by                                                                                                    
     investigations.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     The  following is  an account  of the  current 56  open                                                                    
     cases.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     19 Cases  prepared for board  review and  ruling during                                                                    
     the next annual meeting April 2-4, 2019                                                                                    
     13  Cases currently  active  with  the Alaska  Wildlife                                                                    
     Troopers.  (Investigations is monitoring awaiting AWT                                                                      
     action)                                                                                                                    
     10 Cases  are at some  level of litigation  through the                                                                    
     Office of Administration Hearings.                                                                                         
       2  Cases  are  complete  and  in  the  hands  of  the                                                                    
     respondents to  accept or  reject the  proposed actions                                                                    
     in                                                                                                                         
     accordance with the administrative process.                                                                                
     12  Cases  are  ongoing;   7  are  Breach  of  Contract                                                                    
     Complaint issues, 4 are license application problems.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     As you can see by  this factual information provided by                                                                    
     the Division of  Commerce Investigations division, much                                                                    
     information is being provided that is blatantly false.                                                                     
     I send  you this letter  because I truly believe  it is                                                                    
     our    responsibility    to    identify    fact    from                                                                    
     unsubstantiated claims when  making decisions that will                                                                    
     effect the people of Alaska and its natural resources.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Chambers  felt that sometimes information  was presented                                                                    
to legislators  by people who  were not fully  informed. She                                                                    
agreed with  Mr. Bunch's documentation of  numbers of active                                                                    
cases.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bishop had  heard the bill previously  in the Senate                                                                    
Resources  Committee.  He  found it  troubling  that  guides                                                                    
might  not be  held  to the  highest  ethical standards.  He                                                                    
asked whether  the caseload was  out of  the norm or  was on                                                                    
par with other boards.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Chambers offered to follow  up with Senator Bishop later                                                                    
to   review   investigative   statistics  and   a   caseload                                                                    
comparison.  She  stated  that each  profession  had  wildly                                                                    
differing   number  of   licensees.  She   thought  that   a                                                                    
comparison  from  profession  to  profession  regarding  the                                                                    
investigative caseload  could be  helpful to  the committee.                                                                    
She wondered  whether a review  of the  statutory thresholds                                                                    
for guiding could be in order in the future.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:32:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
HENRY  TIFFANY,  CHAIRMAN;   BIG  GAME  COMMERCIAL  SERVICES                                                                    
BOARD, FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), testified in support                                                                    
of the bill.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  von Imhof  asked  Mr. Tiffany  to  comment on  the                                                                    
board's  statutory disciplinary  matrix and  whether it  was                                                                    
enough  to address  the wide  variety of  violation seen  in                                                                    
current cases.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Tiffany stated  that  the matrix  was  now referred  to                                                                    
Disciplinary  Guidelines and  Precedence.  He asserted  that                                                                    
the board  and members  were very concerned  with individual                                                                    
licensees   due   process.  He  relayed  that   it  was  not                                                                    
allowable for the  board to seek action on  a license unless                                                                    
the  issue   was  brought  before   the  board   through  an                                                                    
investigative  arm  or  a  complaint  made  directly  to  an                                                                    
investigator.  He shared  that there  was a  simple form  to                                                                    
fill out to  alert investigators to issues and  the form was                                                                    
an accountability measure. He said  that he might hear about                                                                    
a  possible violation  but until  the complain  went through                                                                    
proper due process no board action could be taken.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:36:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Tiffany   continued  to  discuss  violations   and  the                                                                    
disciplinary  matrix.  He  said  that the  matrix  had  been                                                                    
developed  to be  fair and  unbiased  in the  doling out  of                                                                    
appropriate sanctions.  He thought  the matrix  worked well.                                                                    
He  said  that  if  an individual  felt  they  were  treated                                                                    
unfairly the matrix could be referenced for clarity.                                                                            
Co-Chair von Imhof noted that  there were 4 people signed up                                                                    
for public  testimony. She asked  whether Mr.  Tiffany could                                                                    
stand by for questions.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Tiffany replied in the affirmative.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:38:54 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair von Imhof OPENED public testimony.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JASON  BUNCH, MEMBER,  BIG GAME  COMMERCIAL SERVICES  BOARD,                                                                    
KODIAK  (via teleconference),  testified in  support of  the                                                                    
bill. He opined  that the sunset process  was time consuming                                                                    
for board  volunteers. He  said that the  time spent  on the                                                                    
sunset process  could be  better used  by board  members. He                                                                    
shared that  he had put in  many hours on the  sunset issue.                                                                    
He  asserted  that  licensees  under  the  board  were  good                                                                    
businessmen.  He  noted that  the  139  open cases  did  not                                                                    
necessarily represent 139 different individuals.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:42:05 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SAM   ROHRER,   PRESIDENT,   ALASKA   PROFESSIONAL   HUNTERS                                                                    
ASSOCIATION,  KODIAK (via  teleconference), spoke  in strong                                                                    
support of the bill. He felt  that the board was critical to                                                                    
the  health the  guiding industry  in Alaska.  He reiterated                                                                    
the  boards  work  in getting  out of  significant debt.  He                                                                    
spoke to  the beneficial work  done by the board.  He feared                                                                    
that  if the  board  were not  renewed, licensing  standards                                                                    
would  suffer. He  added that  the board  provided the  only                                                                    
interface between the Division  of Licensing and the guiding                                                                    
industry.  Without the  board the  public would  have little                                                                    
opportunity to  influence the  regulations that  control the                                                                    
guiding industry.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:44:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MARK  RICHARDS,  EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR,  RESIDENT  HUNTERS  OF                                                                    
ALASKA,  FAIRBANKS   (via  teleconference),  spoke   to  the                                                                    
investigative issues  raised by the  audit. He spoke  to his                                                                    
letter  (copy  on  file).  He  expressed  concern  with  the                                                                    
current  matrix   used  in  the  disciplinary   process.  He                                                                    
believed that there  were serious issues within  the Title 8                                                                    
statutes  that   should  be  seriously  looked   at  by  the                                                                    
legislature. He supported only a  two-year extension for the                                                                    
board.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:48:02 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SCOTT  OGAN, FORMER  MEMBER,  BIG  GAME COMMERCIAL  SERVICES                                                                    
BOARD, JUNEAU, testified in support  of the bill. He offered                                                                    
some history of  his relationship with the  board. He feared                                                                    
that eliminating the board would embolden unethical guides.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:50:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair von Imhof CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:50:23 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Tiffany  fully  supported  the  six-year  extension  as                                                                    
proposed  in the  bill.  He thought  the  board provided  an                                                                    
asset in  the publics  best  interest. He thought  the board                                                                    
had a clear  record of transparency. He  referenced a letter                                                                    
from Mr. Robert  Cassell (copy on file).  He considered that                                                                    
the  issue raised  in the  letter was  out-of-date. He  said                                                                    
that   he   had   investigated  Mr.   Cassells    case   and                                                                    
investigators  revealed   that  his  3  licenses   had  been                                                                    
revoked.  He  said   that  Mr.  Cassell  had   not  been  in                                                                    
compliance with the requirements  laid out by the Department                                                                    
of Fish  and Game and  would not  be able to  practice until                                                                    
her did so. He stressed that  the issue would not be brought                                                                    
before the  board until due  process had been  concluded. He                                                                    
clarified that the  board could not address  issues that had                                                                    
not been  formally brought before  them. He  reiterated that                                                                    
the backlog of 200 cases was not factual information.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:54:21 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair von  Imhof summarized the committee  discussion for                                                                    
SB 43.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SB  43  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB053_UA_Accred_Reporting_SponsorStatement_20Feb2019.pdf SEDC 2/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 53
SB053_UnivAK_AccreditReporting_Research_CAEP Report_Dec2018.pdf SEDC 2/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 53
SB053_UnivAK_AccreditReporting_Research_CAEP_RevocationLetter_11JAN2019.pdf SEDC 2/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 53
SB053_UnivAK_AccreditReporting_Research_Existing UA Accred Summary_21Feb2019.pdf SEDC 2/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 53
07_SB053_UnivAK_AccreditReporting_Research_BOR Policy_April2014.pdf SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 53
11_SB053_UnivAK_AccreditReporting_Sectional_VersionU.pdf SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 53
12_SB053_UA_Accred_Reporting_ExplainChanges_Version A to U.pdf SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 53
SB 43 Sponsor Statement.pdf SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 43
SB 43 Big Game Commercial Services Board Sunset Review Audit.pdf HRES 5/3/2019 1:00:00 PM
SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 43
SB 43 Letters of Opposition.pdf HRES 5/3/2019 1:00:00 PM
SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 43
SB 43 Letters of Support.pdf SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 43
SB 43 Senator von Imhof.docx SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 43
SB 43 RHAK Letter Senate Finance - Extend Big Game Commercial Services Board.pdf SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 43
SB 43 CBPL Timeline of Investigations.pdf SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 43
SB 36 Letter of Support APRN 3-4-19.pdf HL&C 4/24/2019 3:15:00 PM
SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 36
SB 43 Bunch Testimony.pdf HRES 5/3/2019 1:00:00 PM
SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 43
SB 43 Additional Testimony Huttunen.pdf HRES 5/3/2019 1:00:00 PM
SFIN 3/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 43