Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/01/2004 04:14 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*** Immediately Following Session ***
+ SJR 34 TAIWAN STATUS AND PRESIDENT TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSJR 34(WTR) Out of Committee
+ SCR 25 STATE CONSTRUCTION/MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS TELECONFERENCED
<Above Item Removed from Agenda>
+ HB 379 OFFICE OF CITIZENSHIP ASSISTANCE TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 379 Out of Committee
+ HB 366 ANIMAL CLASSICS CHARITABLE GAMING TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 366(FIN) Out of Committee
+ HB 490 EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ACT AMENDMENTS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 490(JUD) am Out of Committee
+ HB 309 PROHIBIT RELEASE OF PREDATORY FISH TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 309(JUD) am Out of Committee
+ HB 351 CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTION DEVICES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 351(JUD) Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
+= HB 405 SCHOOL PERFORMANCE DESIGNATION/REPORT TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 405(EDU) Out of Committee
+= HB 373 STATE TREASURY WARRANTS TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 373 Out of Committee
            HB 379-OFFICE OF CITIZENSHIP ASSISTANCE                                                                         
                                                                                                                              
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS announced HB  379 to be up  for consideration                                                               
and  noted that  the committee  heard similar  legislation during                                                               
the previous session.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
TERRY   HARVEY,   staff   to  Representative   Bruce   Weyhrauch,                                                               
acknowledged  that  the Chair  was  correct.  The legislation  to                                                               
establish the Office of Citizenship  Assistance in the Department                                                               
of  Labor and  Workforce  Development  was originally  introduced                                                               
during  the  22nd Legislature.  The  difference  between the  two                                                               
bills  is that  the fiscal  note for  the current  legislation is                                                               
reduced to $86,000 annually.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Naturalized  citizens   and  those  pursuing   citizenship  could                                                               
receive assistance  in immigration  and employment  services. The                                                               
office  would be  available to  help individuals  find affordable                                                               
legal services, medical  services, and educational opportunities.                                                               
Information  would also  be available  on discrimination,  sexual                                                               
harassment, and unsafe working conditions.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Generally  they've  received  broad statewide  support  for  this                                                               
office, he  said. The  only negative debate  has centered  on the                                                               
argument  that  this  is  a duplication  of  services,  but  they                                                               
disagree.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BERT STEDMAN asked why  the bill didn't pass the previous                                                               
session.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARVEY  said that in  recent years  it's been a  challenge to                                                               
create new  positions in  the state. Also,  he said,  it's likely                                                               
that it  would have passed  last session if  a bit more  time and                                                               
effort had been expended.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  STEDMAN asked  for a  rough  estimate of  the number  of                                                               
immigrants that  arrive in Alaska  each year and where  they come                                                               
from.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARVEY  said he didn't  have that  number, but he  could find                                                               
out. They do  feel that the office would  assist several thousand                                                               
people  every  year.  People immigrate  to  Alaska  from  Mexico,                                                               
Central and  South America, Africa, Europe,  the Philippines, and                                                               
parts of Asia.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR JOHN COWDERY asked where the office would be located.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HARVEY replied  it  would  be located  in  Juneau, but  they                                                               
wouldn't be  opposed to  locating it in  another central  part of                                                               
the state.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COWDERY opined  it  might be  more  properly located  in                                                               
Anchorage then asked whether there are similar federal offices.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARVEY said  there are individual offices that  deal with the                                                               
individual  paperwork  and  documentation,   but  not  a  central                                                               
position that serves as a navigational aid.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COWDERY  asked whether  anyone  in  Alaska helps  people                                                               
become citizens.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARVEY informed  him that the Catholic  Community Services in                                                               
Juneau and one  main organization in Anchorage both  do what they                                                               
can in this area.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COWDERY remarked that both  the Senate and the House have                                                               
World  Trade Committees  and his  office has  fielded calls  from                                                               
immigrants that  have experienced trouble with  visa applications                                                               
since 911.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HARVEY  said  that's  why  this  proposed  service  is  most                                                               
important.  The  challenges  are  enormous for  those  trying  to                                                               
navigate through the system.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COWDERY  suggested that a  lot of the issues  are federal                                                               
rather  than state  and perhaps  the Alaska  delegation could  be                                                               
encouraged to act.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GARY  STEVENS remarked  that  the  fishing and  processing                                                               
industry  in  particular  is heavily  dependent  on  legal  alien                                                               
workers.  Since  1970  he's  found   it  rewarding  to  watch  as                                                               
immigrants  move  from  introductory  positions  in  the  fishing                                                               
industry to owning their own businesses.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS  stated for the record  that Anchorage has                                                               
92 languages represented  in the school district,  which gave her                                                               
reason to echo Senator Cowdery's  suggestion that Anchorage might                                                               
be a  better location for  the office. There's a  tremendous need                                                               
for  such assistance,  she said,  but  her constituents  wouldn't                                                               
have access to such an office if it were located in Juneau.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
She asked whether they had  discussed addressing safety issues as                                                               
well because domestic violence and  sexual assault is a big issue                                                               
in  the  immigrant  community. Women  need  to  understand  their                                                               
rights and the state laws and to  know that there is a place they                                                               
can go if there is a need.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARVEY  said those safety  issues are an important  aspect of                                                               
the assistance available.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GUESS said it would  be stronger if domestic violence and                                                               
sexual assault  were specifically addressed because  our laws are                                                               
different than a number of other countries.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COWDERY  asked what  the  qualifications  and pay  range                                                               
would be for the job.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARVEY replied Mr. Bell could answer those questions.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
GUY  BELL, Director  of the  Division of  Administrative Services                                                               
with the  Department of Labor and  Workforce Development (DOLWD),                                                               
explained that the envisioned position  is a range 17, employment                                                               
security  analyst. That's  a  general  classification within  the                                                               
employment security  division and  these employees  are generally                                                               
assigned  to  job  centers.  The  position  would  require  basic                                                               
understanding   of  the   job  market,   wage   and  hour   laws,                                                               
occupational  safety  and   health  issues,  citizenship  issues,                                                               
strong   communication  skills,   and  probably   some  bilingual                                                               
capability. What  is a bit unusual  is that the position  will be                                                               
assigned to the commissioner's office.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COWDERY  asked  if  the office  would  be  dealing  with                                                               
citizens or those trying to become citizens.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BELL  replied  it's  the  people  that  are  working  toward                                                               
citizenship.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY STEVENS  noted that an employment  security analyst is                                                               
a  range 17  and  earns $64,000  a year.  He  asked whether  that                                                               
includes retirement and health benefits.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELL said it does.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ANDREE  McLEOD  testified via  teleconference  saying  she is  an                                                               
immigrant from  Lebanon and she  didn't support the  bill because                                                               
it's discriminatory based on national origin.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There was no further testimony or questions.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN  motioned to  report HB  379 from  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  attached  fiscal  notes.  There                                                               
being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects