Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
01/30/2018 01:00 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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HB 121-OCC. HEALTH AND SAFETY CIVIL PENALTIES 2:24:38 PM CHAIR COSTELLO announced the consideration of HB 121. 2:24:41 PM REPRESENTATIVE SAM KITO III Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, stated that HB 121 is a House Labor and Commerce Committee bill that was introduced at the request of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD). He spoke to the following sponsor statement: House Bill 121 brings Alaska's Occupational Safety and Health (AKOSH) state plan into compliance with federal requirements, ensuring continued eligibility for federal grant funds and helping to protect workers from workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. In 2015, Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act, requiring many federal agencies to adjust penalties for inflation going back to 1990, and requiring subsequent yearly adjustments according to changes in the Consumer Price Index. Occupational Safety and Health Administration complied by adjusting their maximum penalties in July 2016, including a six-month grace period for states to comply. In order to comply with federal program requirements, AKOSH must have at least equivalent maximum and minimum penalties. AKOSH fell out of compliance with this requirement on January 1, 2017, when the six-month buffer period expired. Maximum and minimum penalties for violations of Alaska's occupational safety and health laws are specified in AS 18.60.095, the Penalties section of Prevention of Accident and Health Hazards. House Bill 121 allows the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to set penalty amounts by regulation and limits the penalties to corresponding federal maximums for each violation type. This enables the department to adjust to federally required changes while placing a cap on increases. Please join me in supporting House Bill 121 to maintain over $2 million in yearly federal grant funds that serve working Alaskans by reducing workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. 2:25:45 PM DEBORA KELLY, Director, Division of Labor Standards & Safety, Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD), Juneau, explained that AKOSH is Alaska's state plan through which it receives federal grants and ensures the safety and health standards that protect most Alaskan workers. She listed the following benefits of having a state plan: • Industries have direct input into developing safety and health standards. • State and municipal employees gain safety and health protections. • Citation appeals go through a local administrative process. To maintain the state plan, AKOSH must be at least as effective as federal OSHA. That includes statutory maximum penalties. In 2015, Congress passed legislation that caused a lot of federal agencies to inflation adjust their penalties. OSHA did so in 2016 and required all state plans to follow suit. Alaska fell out of compliance January 1, 2017 and HB 121 is the remedy. It requires DOLWD to adopt maximum penalty amounts by regulation and limits the amounts to the corresponding federal amounts for each violation type. CHAIR COSTELLO asked when the department became aware that it was out of compliance. MS. KELLY replied it was when OSHA inflation-adjusted its penalties and required state plans like AKOSH to do the same. That is when DOLWD began working to develop the bill CHAIR COSTELLO commented on the effective date of the Act. MS. KELLY directed attention to Section 9 on page 3. It states that Section 8 of the Act takes effect immediately. 2:29:06 PM At ease 2:29:10 PM CHAIR COSTELLO reconvened the meeting. SENATOR GARDNER requested clarification that the bill does not change the health and safety standards. It simply changes the penalty for being in violation of the inspection requirements. MS. KELLY agreed. SENATOR MICCICHE observed that Sections 1, 3, and 4 use the term may" and Section 2 uses the term shall. He asked what is different in Section 2 that would require a "shall. REPRESENTATIVE KITO said he didn't know the reason that shall was used in Section 2. CHAIR COSTELLO asked Ms. Kelly if she could respond. MS. KELLY offered to do follow-up research on the history of the statutory language. SENATOR MICCICHE said he'd like to know if it was a mistake. He also expressed concern that the legislature has no control over the amount of the maximum civil penalties if it is determined by regulation. CHAIR COSTELLO asked the sponsor if someone from the department could respond. REPRESENTATIVE KITO deferred to the department. He returned to the question about the use of "shall versus may" and advised that it is existing law that HB 121 does not change. CHAIR COSTELLO asked Senator Micciche if he wanted to hold the bill or pass it along to finance and get the answer there. SENATOR MICCICHE said he'll see it in finance. 2:33:40 PM SENATOR MICCICHE moved to report HB 121 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). CHAIR COSTELLO stated that without objection, HB 121 moves from Senate Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.