Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/02/2017 01:30 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSSB 15(L&C) Out of Committee
Moved SB 29 Out of Committee
          SB  51-EXTEND BOARD OF VETERINARY EXAMINERS                                                                       
2:52:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO  announced the consideration  of SB 51.  She noted                                                               
that this  is the  first hearing;  the intention  is to  hear the                                                               
bill,  take members  questions, take  public testimony,  and hold                                                               
the bill for further consideration.                                                                                             
2:53:34 PM                                                                                                                    
SHAREEN CROSBY,  Staff, Senator Natasha  von Imhof,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, introduced SB  51 on behalf of  the sponsor speaking                                                               
to the following sponsor statement:                                                                                             
     SB  51 extends  the termination  date of  the Board  of                                                                    
     Veterinary Examiners  (BVE). Currently, the  board will                                                                    
     sunset on  June 30,  2017. SB 51  extends this  date by                                                                    
     eight years, to June 30, 2025.                                                                                             
     I  encourage   all  of  the   members  to   review  the                                                                    
     Legislative Audit  summary and  the full  audit report.                                                                    
     Your will see that in  the opinion of our auditors, the                                                                    
     BE  is serving  the  public's  interest by  effectively                                                                    
     licensing and  regulating veterinarians  and veterinary                                                                    
     technicians. The board monitors  licensees and works to                                                                    
     ensure    only    qualified    individuals    practice.                                                                    
     Additionally  it  was  found, the  board  develops  and                                                                    
     adopts  regulations  to  improve the  veterinarian  and                                                                    
     veterinary technician occupations in Alaska.                                                                               
     The  BVE serves  an  important role  in protecting  the                                                                    
     health  and  safety  of Alaska's  many  pets  and  farm                                                                    
     animals. From  lap dogs to  sled dogs, ball  pythons to                                                                    
     sleigh-pulling  work horses,  our pets  and animals  in                                                                    
     Alaska deserve  qualified veterinarians  and veterinary                                                                    
     technicians   for  their   care  and   well-being.  The                                                                    
     continuation of the board is very important.                                                                               
MS. CROSBY noted the individuals available to answer questions.                                                                 
SENATOR NATASHA  VON IMHOF, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor of                                                               
SB 51, said  this is an excellent board that  does good work. She                                                               
deferred questions to her staff and the auditor.                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO  clarified that testimony should  be restricted to                                                               
the bill itself.                                                                                                                
2:56:37 PM                                                                                                                    
KRIS CURTIS, Legislative Auditor,  Division of Legislative Audit,                                                               
Alaska State  Legislature, stated  that the division  conducted a                                                               
sunset audit of  the Board of Veterinary  Examiners and concluded                                                               
that  the board  is serving  the public  interest by  effectively                                                               
licensing   and    regulating   veterinarians    and   veterinary                                                               
technicians  and is  appropriately regulating  the industry.  The                                                               
audit  recommends   that  the  legislature  extend   the  board's                                                               
termination date eight years to June 30, 2025.                                                                                  
She directed attention  to Exhibit 2 on page 5  of the audit that                                                               
reports that  as of  February 2016 this  board had  670 licenses.                                                               
She noted  this is a  57 percent  increase since the  last sunset                                                               
audit in  2008. Exhibit 3  on page 5 reports  that at the  end of                                                               
FY2013 the board  had a $108,829 surplus. Fees  were decreased at                                                               
that time so  at the end of FY2015 the  surplus was $22,735. Fees                                                               
were not adjusted  and at the end of February  2016 the board was                                                               
running  a [$25,828]  deficit.  At  the time  of  the audit,  the                                                               
Division  of Corporations,  Business  and Professional  Licensing                                                               
indicated plans to reassess fees at the end of FY2016.                                                                          
MS. CURTIS directed attention  to the administrative housekeeping                                                               
recommendation  on page  7  for  the board  chair  to review  the                                                               
annual  report   for  accuracy  and  completeness   before  final                                                               
submission  to   the  Department  of  Commerce,   Community,  and                                                               
Economic Develop. It  was an oversight of DCBPL  staff that every                                                               
year for the last four years  the board reported on the status of                                                               
the Board of  Dental Examiners rather than those of  the Board of                                                               
Veterinary Examiners.                                                                                                           
2:59:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER asked if the  board addressed the fee increase at                                                               
the end of FY2016.                                                                                                              
MS. CURTIS said she didn't know  and deferred the question to the                                                               
SENATOR MEYER  asked about  the 69 open  complaints, 18  of which                                                               
resulted in investigations.                                                                                                     
MS. CURTIS  said that is discussed  on the bottom of  page 3. She                                                               
paraphrased the following:                                                                                                      
     There were  69 complaints  open or opened  between July                                                                    
     1,    2012,   and    February   15,    2016.   Eighteen                                                                    
     investigations resulted  from the complaints,  of which                                                                    
     14 were  closed during  the period. The  remaining four                                                                    
     open  investigations  were  open for  less  than  eight                                                                    
     months as of February 2016.                                                                                                
She  explained  that  this  review   is  done  to  assess  timely                                                               
investigations   and  the   conclusion  was   there  was   not  a                                                               
significant problem with timeliness.                                                                                            
SENATOR   GARDNER   asked   if  the   complaints   that   weren't                                                               
investigated were  not pursued because  they were  unfounded, out                                                               
of jurisdiction, or some other reason.                                                                                          
MS.  CURTIS said  the audit  doesn't report  the reason,  but the                                                               
myriad  of  codes  for  not   going  forward  include  those  she                                                               
SENATOR  GARDNER asked  if  those numbers  are  in the  auditor's                                                               
comfort range.                                                                                                                  
MS. CURTIS said the risk-based  approach to auditing indicated it                                                               
didn't warrant expending resources.                                                                                             
CHAIR COSTELLO  asked what  the threshold  is for  identifying an                                                               
area as a risk worth investigating.                                                                                             
MS. CURTIS explained that during  the planning survey phase of an                                                               
audit they review board meeting  minutes and annual reports, they                                                               
interview board members and department  licensing staff, and they                                                               
get statistics  from the investigative  section. If  that process                                                               
shows complaints  aren't followed up  or there are  concerns with                                                               
investigations in general, they will  identify that as an area of                                                               
risk and do detailed audit work on it.                                                                                          
SENATOR GARDNER  asked if unusually  high expenses  accounted for                                                               
the rapidly declining surplus between  FY2013 and FY2015, because                                                               
licenses increased 57 percent in that timeframe.                                                                                
MS. CURTIS  said the  detail expenditures in  Exhibit 3  were not                                                               
identified  as   an  area  of  concern.   She  acknowledged  that                                                               
increasing licenses typically reduces a deficit.                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO  asked when  the board was  established and  if an                                                               
eight-year extension is a typical for this board.                                                                               
MS.  CURTIS  said  this board  received  the  maximum  eight-year                                                               
extension  after  the  2008  sunset audit.  She  noted  that  the                                                               
recommendations from  the prior audit are  at the top of  page 7.                                                               
One  recommendation was  to review  and decrease  licensing fees,                                                               
which   is   an  indication   there   was   a  surplus.   Another                                                               
recommendation  was to  fill  vacant seats  in  a timely  manner.                                                               
Those recommendations were addressed.                                                                                           
3:05:40 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
3:05:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COSTELLO   reconvened  the   meeting  and   opened  public                                                               
testimony on SB 51.                                                                                                             
3:06:46 PM                                                                                                                    
RACHEL   BERNGARTT,  Member,   Board  of   Veterinary  Examiners,                                                               
reported that  in July 2016  the cost  to renew all  licenses for                                                               
this board  increased dramatically;  for veterinarians  a license                                                               
jumped  from  $300 to  $500.  The  board suggested  numbers  they                                                               
thought would  significantly address  the deficit, but  the state                                                               
had a different idea. She predicted  that the board would soon be                                                               
well in the black.                                                                                                              
She pointed out that the audit  found the board to be functional,                                                               
necessary and unique.                                                                                                           
SENATOR  MEYER asked  the  cost  of a  veterinary  license and  a                                                               
veterinary technician license.                                                                                                  
MS. BERNGARTT  said the  veterinary license  renewal is  $500 and                                                               
the veterinary technician license renewal  is $100. Prior to 2016                                                               
the numbers were $300 and $50 respectively.                                                                                     
SENATOR  HUGHES   asked  if   there  is   still  a   shortage  of                                                               
veterinarians in Alaska.                                                                                                        
MS. BERNGARTT replied the state is  in much better shape now than                                                               
a  few years  ago.  She  advised that  the  University of  Alaska                                                               
Fairbanks has  a veterinarian  program now;  after two  years the                                                               
students  transfer to  a sister  program at  a university  in the                                                               
Lower  48. She  added that  the board  is very  cognizant of  the                                                               
shortage  and  strives  to  get   veterinary  services  to  rural                                                               
SENATOR HUGHES said that's encouraging to hear.                                                                                 
3:11:24 PM                                                                                                                    
PAMELA  SAMASH,  representing  herself,  Nenana,  Alaska,  stated                                                               
opposition to SB 51 because the  current board has done little to                                                               
help people in  rural communities. Her community is  going on the                                                               
fourth year of having no  veterinary care, which includes no spay                                                               
or  neutering  and   no  rabies  vaccines.  This   is  a  problem                                                               
throughout Alaska  and it  stems from the  fact that  the current                                                               
board has no rural representation.                                                                                              
She  proposed starting  with an  entirely new  board where  rural                                                               
people have a voice.                                                                                                            
SENATOR GARDNER asked if she  has suggestions about how the board                                                               
can increase the number of veterinarians in rural Alaska.                                                                       
MS. SAMASH  said it would  help to have  a couple of  people from                                                               
rural communities on  the board. They would actually  look at the                                                               
licenses of  traveling vets who  apply and decide whether  or not                                                               
to  approve the  applications.  That isn't  happening right  now;                                                               
it's generally known that itinerate  vets have difficulty getting                                                               
a license in Alaska.                                                                                                            
SENATOR GARDNER asked if she  is saying that traveling or out-of-                                                               
state veterinarians don't get the  necessary approval to practice                                                               
in Alaska.                                                                                                                      
MS. SAMASH said that's been her experience.                                                                                     
CHAIR COSTELLO asked if her  reference to traveling veterinarians                                                               
means  about  veterinarians within  Alaska  who  would travel  to                                                               
rural  communities  to  provide services  or  veterinarians  from                                                               
outside the state who would do the same.                                                                                        
MS. SAMASH  said all the  above although it's more  difficult for                                                               
veterinarians  from   outside  the   state  to  get   a  license.                                                               
Veterinarians  within  the  state  generally  charge  full  price                                                               
despite   the  limited   resources  of   many  rural   residents.                                                               
Veterinarians  from outside  often come  from organizations  that                                                               
help  with supplies  so the  cost to  the consumer  is less.  She                                                               
highlighted  the  problem  of expired  rabies  vaccines  and  the                                                               
dearth of rabies  clinics in rural Alaska. It's  becoming a human                                                               
health risk, she said.                                                                                                          
3:18:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MARGIE RILEY, representing herself,  Nenana, Alaska, testified in                                                               
opposition to SB 51. She reported  on the lack of health care for                                                               
animals  throughout  the Interior.  She  asked  the committee  to                                                               
reconsider  the  composition  of  the  board  and  recognize  the                                                               
importance  of  having veterinarians  who  will  travel to  rural                                                               
3:20:38 PM                                                                                                                    
ANGIE FITCH,  representing herself, Fairbanks, Alaska,  urged the                                                               
committee to  either vote no  on SB 51 or  amend it to  add rural                                                               
3:21:27 PM                                                                                                                    
LEA MCKENZIE, representing herself,  Sutton, Alaska, testified in                                                               
opposition to  SB 51.  She described  her experience  with animal                                                               
rescue and  working in  a clinic  with a  traveling veterinarian.                                                               
Based on that  experience she does not believe that  the board is                                                               
serving  the public  interest.  She urged  the  committee not  to                                                               
extend  the board  until  changes are  made  such that  traveling                                                               
veterinarians are approved to work in remote villages.                                                                          
3:23:18 PM                                                                                                                    
BRIAN BERUBE,  representing himself, Rural, Alaska,  advised that                                                               
he has helped set up  veterinary clinics in rural communities and                                                               
he  believes  that the  veterinary  board  has made  progress  in                                                               
trying  to solve  the problems  in  rural communities  associated                                                               
with access to care. However, it's  clear that a large portion of                                                               
the  state  doesn't  have adequate  access  to  veterinary  care.                                                               
Having rural representation on the  board would be beneficial for                                                               
those  areas  and  the  entire   state  and  improve  the  public                                                               
CHAIR COSTELLO held SB 51  in committee for further consideration                                                               
with public testimony open.                                                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
2017.03.02 Sen. L&C - SB 15 - Summary of Changes Ver. A to Ver. R.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 15
DOL&WD Response to Senator's Questions - Budget Charts.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
DOL&WD Response to Senator's Questions.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
CSS15 Ver. O.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 4 Support Documents.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 4 Support Letters.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 15 ver. R.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 15
SB 40 - Slide Presentation.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 40
SB 45 - DCCED Response to Senator's Questions.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 45
SB 51 Bill Version A.PDF SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB 51 Fiscal Note - DCCED.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB 51 Sponsor Statement.PDF SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB 51 Supporting Documents-Legislative Audit.PDF SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SSSB 4 Fiscal Note - DCCED.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SSSB 4 Fiscal Note - DEC.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SSSB4 Sectional Analysis.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SSSB4 Sponsor Statement.pdf SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SSSB4 Ver. J.PDF SL&C 3/2/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 4