Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/21/2017 01:30 PM Senate LABOR & COMMERCE
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HB 48-ARCHITECTS, ENGINEERS, SURVEYORS: EXTEND BD 1:36:22 PM CHAIR COSTELLO brought the meeting back to order and announced the first hearing of HB 48. 1:36:44 PM REPRESENTATIVE SAM KITO, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of SB 48, explained that the bill extends the termination date of the State Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors (AELS) of which he is a licensee as a civil engineer. The Division of Legislative Audit found that the AELS Board meets the public need and recommends an eight-year extension. He noted that the bill also changes the status of the current landscape architect seat from a nonvoting temporary to a full, voting member. The bill contains no additional costs. 1:38:47 PM CHAIR COSTELLO welcomed Senator Gardner. CHAIR HUGHES asked why the landscape architect seat has been a non-voting member for 20 years. REPRESENTATIVE KITO explained the interest in keeping that position temporary until there were licensed landscape architects in Alaska. He said the Board has tried twice to change this provision since there are now about 50 landscape architects in Alaska. 1:40:58 PM SENATOR MEYER asked if the audit found a surplus in the Board's budget. REPRESENTATIVE KITO confirmed there is a surplus. The budget is calculated annually, but adjusted every two years. The fees are adjusted accordingly in that two-year cycle. SENATOR MEYER suggested the fees could or should be reduced if there actually is a $1.6 million surplus. REPRESENTATIVE KITO said that is how it works. If there is a surplus the subsequent biennium fee will be adjusted. CHAIR COSTELLO noted those available to answer questions. 1:43:26 PM KRIS CURTIS, Legislative Auditor, Legislative Audit Division, explained the results of the sunset review dated April 2016. She said, overall, the audit found that the Board is serving the public's interest and they recommended an eight-year extension, the maximum allowed. The audit had no recommendations. She reported on the schedule of revenue expenditures on page 7 of the audit report, as of February 2016. At the end of FY13 there was a deficit and the fees were increased; at the end of February 2016 there was a surplus of over $1.6 million. They discussed this with the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing the decision was to re-evaluate the fees. She referred to page 8 of the audit - the schedule of license fees - and page 5 - a list of all occupations that are licensed by the AELS Board and the count of the numbers of licensees or registrants. MS. CURTIS noted the audit also discussed Board composition. All occupations that are licensed by the Board are represented except for the landscape architect. They interviewed 7 of 10 Board members about that issue and found that all 7 were in support of making the landscape architect position permanent. CHAIR COSTELLO asked how many members are on the Board. MS. CURTIS said 10. CHAIR COSTELLO asked if the even number of members is a problem. MS. CURTIS said they did not have an opinion on that and did not come out with a recommendation. She said it was a policy call. She explained the reasons for interviewing 7 members. 1:46:51 PM SENATOR GARDNER referred to page 7 of the audit and asked for examples of other revenue sources. She also asked whether the fluctuation in spending is related to the number of complaints that are investigated. MS. CURTIS said they did not have an explanation for the other fund sources; that information comes from the agency. The fluctuation is mainly in the area of services under direct expenditures. The agency may be able to answer that question, she said. 1:47:58 PM SENATOR MEYER asked if Legislative Audit recommended an 8-year extension because they are comfortable with the Board. MS. CURTIS answered yes. SENATOR MEYER asked about a concern on page 4 regarding registrants completing continuing education. MS. CURTIS said it is not a concern now due to a new licensing system that includes continuing education documentation. 1:49:20 PM ALYSIA JONES, Executive Administrator, Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors, Division of Corporations, Businesses, and Professional Licensing, Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED), introduced herself. SARA CHAMBERS, Operations Manager, Division of Corporations, Businesses, and Professional Licensing, Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED), introduced herself. SENATOR MEYER questioned the $1.6 million surplus. 1:50:30 PM MS. CHAMBERS explained that all fees paid by registrants stay with their boards. An annual review is done to adjust the fees for the next biannual renewal. They try to keep the fees level to limit investigative costs. 1:52:05 PM SENATOR MEYER asked for examples of typical complaints. MS. CHAMBERS shared several examples, such as violations of licensing laws and the use of an inappropriate person for a job. 1:53:02 PM MS. JONES listed several other examples, such as building violations, or unlicensed persons. SENATOR MEYER asked if it is a serious offense if a person claims to be a professional engineer (PE) and is not. MS. JONES said yes. 1:54:39 PM CHAIR HUGHES said PEs are paying for the cost of investigation of those who claim to be a PE and are not. She asked if there is a way to recoup those costs. MS. CHAMBERS replied that there is no provision currently in statute to recoup those costs. 1:55:24 PM SENATOR GARDNER referred to page 7, income licensing fees, and asked what the other sources of income are. 1:55:42 PM MS. CHAMBERS explained that those are third-party travel reimbursements for associations that fund travel for Board members and staff to maintain their education and for collaboration with other state boards. She said the latest financial information through the end of the second quarter of this fiscal year lists the Board surplus as $1.1 million. 1:56:15 PM CHAIR COSTELLO opened public testimony on HB 48. 1:56:24 PM COLIN MAYNARD, PE, SE, Alaska Board of Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors, said he has been on the Board the last five years and served as chair during the audit. The Board was pleased with the audit results. He discussed the resolution of the continuing education issue. He described an incident ten years ago regarding internet renewals that caused a surplus and another example that caused a deficit. CHAIR COSTELLO noted that the audit suggested an eight-year extension and posited that it may indicate that the concern about fluctuating fees has been addressed. 2:00:46 PM MICHELLE ALPERS, Landscape Architect, Engineering Public Works Department, City and Borough of Juneau, Member, Alaska Professional Design Council stated support for the provision in SB 48 to make the seat on the Board for landscape architects a permanent voting position. 2:02:31 PM CHAIR COSTELLO closed public testimony and held HB 48 in committee for further consideration.