Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/10/2003 01:32 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            SB 124-ALCOHOLISM AND DRUG ABUSE GRANTS                                                                         
CHAIR DYSON announced SB 124 to be up for consideration.                                                                        
MR.   ELMER   LINDSTROM,   Special  Assistant   to   Commissioner                                                               
Gilbertson,  Department of  Health  and  Social Services  (DHSS),                                                               
said SB 124 is very  straightforward. He thought these grants are                                                               
the only  ones that require  a state  match that is  specified in                                                               
statute.  Typically,  the local  match  is  25%. [SB  124]  would                                                               
actually save state  general funds with the  expectation that the                                                               
state grant  funds would be  replaced by larger  matches provided                                                               
by local communities. He said the  bill has four fiscal notes and                                                               
a spreadsheet is available that  lists all of the grants provided                                                               
by the division based on FY 03 activity.                                                                                        
CHAIR DYSON  asked which  programs are  protected from  the match                                                               
increase from 75% to 90%.                                                                                                       
MR. LINDSTROM referred the committee  to the second column of the                                                               
spreadsheet  entitled   "Notes,"  [which   lists]  a   number  of                                                               
exemptions from  the match.  They are grants  of $30,000  or less                                                               
with the  assumption that they  would have a very  difficult time                                                               
making any  local match requirement.  For the most part  they are                                                               
associated with  the community  based suicide  prevention program                                                               
($10-$17,000  grants) and  grants to  the very  small communities                                                               
throughout Alaska.  A number of items  are in the 10%  column and                                                               
those  have been  held harmless  for  the increase  in the  local                                                               
match  requirement. Those  are  programs  that provide  treatment                                                               
services for families, particularly  for women with children. The                                                               
fiscal note was predicated on those assumptions.                                                                                
MR. LINDSTROM noted  that under existing law,  the department has                                                               
the  ability to  waive the  local match  requirement and  that is                                                               
their intent - as indicated  on the spreadsheet. He thought there                                                               
would  be requests  from other  grantees  to waive  the match  in                                                               
whole or  in part. Any relief  given to another grantee  would by                                                               
definition be at the expense of  someone else and he assumed what                                                               
would happen  would be  very close  to what  is described  on the                                                               
SENATOR DAVIS  asked if he  would consider  in-kind contributions                                                               
or volunteer labor as a match to make up the 25%.                                                                               
MR. LINDSTROM  said he  didn't know for  certain, but  he thought                                                               
some types of in-kind support might be accepted.                                                                                
2:05 p.m.                                                                                                                     
MS. KAREN  PEARSON, Acting Director,  Division of  Alcoholism and                                                               
Drug  Abuse,  added that  the  in-kind  match could  probably  be                                                               
managed, but  because of the change  in the fiscal note,  it will                                                               
mean a decrease in actual dollars going to that grantee.                                                                        
SENATOR GUESS asked her how DHSS determined who would be exempt.                                                                
MR. LINDSTROM  replied that  he thought the  rule was  $30,000 or                                                               
less or  providing treatment  services to  families, particularly                                                               
women  with children.  He asked  her if  she was  referring to  a                                                               
unique situation.                                                                                                               
SENATOR  GUESS  said  the  Alaska   Military  Youth  Academy  and                                                               
Community  Prevention [grants]  were less  than $30,000  but they                                                               
still have a match. She was trying to understand that.                                                                          
MR. LINDSTROM admitted  she was correct and said he  would try to                                                               
find out why.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS added  there are a handful of such  cases and asked                                                               
why the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital was held harmless.                                                                          
MR. LINDSTROM said he didn't know, but would find out.                                                                          
SENATOR GUESS said  she wouldn't waste the  committee's time, but                                                               
would give  him a list  of her  concerns afterwards and  he could                                                               
get back  to her with information.  She asked how 25%  was chosen                                                               
and not something based on wealth in a community.                                                                               
MR. LINDSTROM replied the reason is  because that tends to be the                                                               
norm in the department.                                                                                                         
SENATOR GUESS asked how many waivers DHSS provides now with 10%.                                                                
MR.  LINDSTROM  replied  that   he  thought  the  community-based                                                               
suicide  projects have  historically been  waived from  the local                                                               
community  match.  The  ASAP  programs   have  not  had  a  match                                                               
historically, but  he thought  the grantees  had a  provision for                                                               
sliding fee  scales. He knew  that some  of them had  been fairly                                                               
aggressive in that  respect, but it hadn't been shown  as a match                                                               
requirement. Those  are the  two that  leapt out  at him  when he                                                               
reviewed the document.                                                                                                          
SENATOR GUESS asked  how many on the list  that normally received                                                               
waivers in the  past would not receive waivers  under the $30,000                                                               
MR. LINDSTROM said he would have to tabulate that for her.                                                                      
SENATOR GUESS asked how he determined the $30,000.                                                                              
MR. LINDSTROM  replied that it  was as  simple as looking  at the                                                               
total project cost  that determined whether or  not something was                                                               
greater or lesser than $30,000.                                                                                                 
SENATOR GUESS asked why DHSS picked $30,000 as a number.                                                                        
MR. LINDSTROM replied that he didn't know.                                                                                      
SENATOR GUESS  asked if it  was a  policy call by  the department                                                               
and whether  anything in regulation  or statute says there  is no                                                               
match for grants that are $30,000 or less.                                                                                      
MR. LINDSTROM  replied that is  correct, but  the community-based                                                               
suicide  prevention projects  have historically  been exempt  for                                                               
the  local match  requirement  and they  are  all under  $20,000.                                                               
There will be  an administrative process where  the division will                                                               
petition the commissioner  for approval to waive  the local match                                                               
requirement and the commissioner would make the decision.                                                                       
SENATOR GUESS  asked if that  is the current process  and whether                                                               
DHSS is changing it.                                                                                                            
MR. LINDSTROM replied DHSS is not changing the process.                                                                         
SENATOR GUESS  referred to the department's  statement that there                                                               
would be no  impact on services at the community  level and asked                                                               
whether DHSS had  done an analysis of any  decreases. She thought                                                               
local communities would have to  either raise taxes or, in places                                                               
like Anchorage with a tax cap,  choose to fund those services and                                                               
not fund something  else. She asked if DHSS had  done an estimate                                                               
of the services he thought would be impacted.                                                                                   
MR. LINDSTROM replied  that DHSS had not done so  and that she is                                                               
correct, but  it was  DHSS's belief that  by exempting  the small                                                               
grantees, the others  would have the ability to come  up with the                                                               
local match. He  based that assumption on  DHSS's experience with                                                               
other grant programs.                                                                                                           
CHAIR DYSON  noted that very  few of  the programs fall  close to                                                               
the $30,000 rule.                                                                                                               
SENATOR GUESS asked  whether the community match  funds come from                                                               
a  city or  a borough.  Basically, she  wanted to  know what  the                                                               
restrictions  are  for  the match  relating  to  Senator  Davis's                                                               
question about in-kind matches.                                                                                                 
MS. PEARSON responded that the  grantee has the responsibility to                                                               
find the  match. Grantees  sometimes get  the funds  from another                                                               
entity, but  the administrative entity  handling the cash  has to                                                               
be the grantee.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR DYSON announced an at-ease from 2:05 to 2:06 p.m.                                                                         
SENATOR GREEN moved  to pass SB 124 with  its accompanying fiscal                                                               
notes from committee with  individual recommendations. There were                                                               
no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                            

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