Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/25/2010 01:30 PM Senate LABOR & COMMERCE
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SCR 16-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLANNING COMMISSION 1:35:26 PM CHAIR PASKVAN announced SCR 16 to be up for consideration. JEFF STEPP, staff to Senator Paskvan, said this resolution is an opportunity to follow through on a recommendation mentioned in an earlier committee overview of economic development in the state of Alaska. He recalled that one thing that has been universally identified among the states is that input from the private sector is lacking. In collaborating with Representative Austerman's office the Labor and Commerce Committee has submitted SCR 16, the main goal of which is to facilitate input from the private sector in the implementation of state economic development policy. He said a committee substitute (CS) arrived in their office just a few minutes before the meeting started. But they would talk about the changes and have the CS and the fiscal note for the committee next time. 1:38:06 PM SENATOR JOE THOMAS joined the committee. 1:38:23 PM ERIN HARRINGTON, staff to Representative Austerman, said she had been working with Mr. Stepp on this initiative and explained that SCR 16 creates an Economic Development Planning Commission within the Legislature. It would be a 10-member task force that would work to integrate the Legislature into some of the on- going economic development initiatives in the state. In January efforts were discussed such as Alaska Forward and the Governor's Legacy Initiative. The idea is to make sure the Legislature has the opportunity to participate in those and particularly to participate in the implementation of any ideas that developed through the processes. She said her presentation addresses the expected CS. 1:40:08 PM This commission would report suggested strategies and legislation to the Governor, the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee (LB&A), and to the Legislative Council. Their activities would sunset at the end of fiscal year 2012. They do not want to duplicate any long term economic development efforts that might be created through Alaska Forward or others, but to just create a very specific working group within the Legislature so it can be engaged and implement them as the processes move forward. MS. HARRINGTON said SCR 16 allows the Legislature to monitor ongoing initiatives and it creates a mechanism for it to collaborate with the private sector on issues related to economic development, and to identify where legislation is necessary. Representative Austerman's work suggested that the state isn't going to necessarily lead economic development but in many cases it has the tools to support it. It also demonstrates the Legislature's ongoing commitment to economic development initiatives. Finally, it responds to some identified shortcomings from previous economic development efforts. She referenced a letter from Senator Torgerson which included a copy of the Alaska Forward Phase 1 Report noting that previous efforts sometimes fell apart at the implementation stage either with the administration or because legislative action was needed but there hadn't been good communication about what that might be. This tries to address that proactively. MS. HARRINGTON said the current processes are Alaska Forward, which has been organized with the Alaska Partnership for Economic Development, and the Legacy Process which has been running out of the Governor's Office. Alaska Forward was funded with $500,000 from the Denali Commission to support their efforts to do a statewide strategic plan related to economic development. Phase 1 is done and they are in the fundraising and kick off stage of phase 2. In phase 1 they spent only $350,000- 375,000, so they have some money left over; they'll be spending roughly twice that on the next stage. The Legacy Process that was established by the Executive Order from the former governor has been continued in under Governor Parnell's leadership. This process is morphing and is expected to run parallel to the Alaska Forward process so that they are mutually supportive. Other regional and industry specific economic development efforts are going on in the state and are mentioned in the report. Kinds of opportunities the commission might identify are tax incentives, loan programs, and targeting economic clusters that could benefit from additional support or need an additional boost from state efforts. She said the Commission would work to draft legislation in advance of each of the two upcoming legislative sessions so action could be taken if appropriate. This could include restructuring of departments, tax incentive or loan programs. 1:45:40 PM ROB ERAL, staff to Representative Herron, remarked that slide 7 showed the various appointment authorities for the Commission; the Finance co-chairs have a large roll. The last two commissioners are automatically ex officio members. All members would serve until the sunset date. They just received the Alaska Forward Phase 1 report that stated the commission could start work April 30 at the earliest. The first reporting deadline would at the beginning of the 2011 session. Phase 2 of Alaska Forward will be a summit in the spring or fall. A second reporting deadline is before the 2012 session. Then it would sunset June 30, 2012. He said that all agencies found a lack of cohesive thinking on economic development in Alaska and think the commission could be a filter and a bridge to take that information from diverse sources and present it to the Legislature. Legislators on the commission could have access to Legislative Legal to draft legislation and could recommend policy changes to the governor. MR. EARL said the forthcoming fiscal note will be about $130,000 - most of it for commission staff at range 21, step C, with a little bit of travel per diem. 1:48:29 PM SENATOR BUNDE asked if it wouldn't be more efficient to bring the report straight to the Labor and Commerce chairs. MS. HARRINGTON responded that Legislative Legal suggested that LB&A interact with administration on issues related to the budget and agencies, and the Legislative Council, being the policy body for the Legislature, could perhaps provide a broader reach. It is open to discussion. SENATOR BUNDE said the creation of this commission seems to anticipate proposing some legislation, and they should remove filters rather than adding additional ones. If the Legislature is not in session, perhaps Legislative Council might be the right route. He didn't understand LB&A's role in this. CHAIR PASKVAN said they are looking for the comments of private enterprise and he thought that Labor and Commerce was appropriately involved in that. 1:50:22 PM SENATOR BUNDE said he hears from business and enterprise people all the time and asked why these business people can't talk to their elected representatives. Wouldn't that be a lot cheaper? MS. HARRINGTON agreed, but the concern this resolution is attempting to address is the one that has been vocalized that at times it doesn't seem that the three stakeholders in these kinds of processes are equally engaged. Sometimes in the past the administration and public have been engaged they have been told, but the Legislature hasn't been. Or the Legislature and public have been engaged but the administration hasn't. This resolution seeks to address that concern by assuring that the Legislature has a direct route of engagement in implementation of these processes. SENATOR BUNDE said you're battling the inherent three branches of government. SENATOR MEYER said Anchorage has the Economic Development Association that has legislators as ex officio members as well as the Anchorage Assembly. CHAIR PASKVAN said Fairbanks has an Economic Development Authority, as well. SENATOR MEYER said the Valley does, too; so the bulk of the population is already covered by some economic group. He shared Senator Bunde's concern about having so many commissions. What did she think about using local economic development organizations? MS. HARRINGTON answered that was an excellent point. The Alaska Partnership for Economic Development (APED) has been the lead organization on the Alaska Forward planning process and is actually an umbrella organization of these regional Alaska Regional Development Organizations (ARDORS). The lack of integration on statewide concepts was identified and that is what led them to the development of the APED organization and the Alaska Forward move. The president of AEDC is on the APED Board, Marty Mativa from the Mat-Su RDC is actually the president of APED right now. This commission is not intended to replace the leadership of that organization and their statewide vision; it is intended to make sure they, the private sector and the groups that are going to be involved in Alaska's long term economic development and have a direct line of contact with the Legislature and, moreover, have some of the tools and support that would be needed in actually creating legislation where it would be appropriate. 1:55:05 PM SENATOR THOMAS said he has heard concerns that there hasn't been as much activity as one would expect when you have a Department of Economic Development. Making sure services aren't duplicated would be helpful as well as figuring out why the state isn't moving forward as fast as it should be. 1:57:54 PM CHAIR PASKVAN recognized Commissioner Curtis Thayer, Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED), sitting in the audience. He said SCR 16 would be held for further work.