Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

03/17/2009 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Bill Postponed To 3/19/09
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
    CSHB  63(FIN)-COUNCIL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: MEMBERS, STAFF                                                                 
9:56:27 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD announced the consideration CSHB 63(FIN).                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE   ANNA  FAIRCLOUGH,   Alaska  State   Legislature,                                                               
speaking as sponsor, said Alaska  has ranked number one in sexual                                                               
assault in the nation  for 28 out of the last  30 years. "We have                                                               
some  horrific  numbers  in  this  state ...  when  it  comes  to                                                               
violence." The 25th legislature created  a taskforce to relook at                                                               
how Alaska  delivered services to people  who experience domestic                                                               
violence and sexual assault. The  taskforce created a report. She                                                               
was chair  of the  taskforce and sponsor  of the  legislation. It                                                               
had  bipartisan and  bicameral  support.  Senator Elton  endorsed                                                               
CSHB 63(FIN).                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH said  the bill  changes the  number of                                                               
council  members from  seven  to  nine. It  adds  one new  public                                                               
member and  a member  from the  Department of  Corrections (DOC).                                                               
The Department  of Health and  Human Services previously  had the                                                               
DOC under  it. This  will give the  taskforce the  opportunity to                                                               
start talking about prevention as  well as accountability, and go                                                               
through the  full spectrum about  what happens to the  victim and                                                               
the  perpetrator.  The  bill  also requires  one  of  the  public                                                               
members to  be from a  rural community,  and the CS  defines that                                                               
community as having a population of 7,500 or less.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH  said the  bill  changes  the term  of                                                               
office from  two to  three years  because council  members didn't                                                               
get  adequate  training and  only  sometimes  saw a  budget  once                                                               
during   their  term.   It  will   give   them  more   historical                                                               
perspective.  There was  great controversy  in previous  years in                                                               
funding the  council. There was  concern that the  Alaska Network                                                               
on Domestic Violence  and Sexual Assault is  currently written in                                                               
statute that the governor "shall"  talk to the network and review                                                               
nominations from the  council. There is consensus  to change that                                                               
"shall"  to  "may".  She  encourages  the  governor  to  use  the                                                               
resources of the  network, which is a membership  program with 19                                                               
entities  throughout Alaska.  The  bill clarifies  that a  public                                                               
member  can't be  a state  employee. When  she was  the executive                                                               
director it seemed like everyone  was a state employee. They were                                                               
all doing a  good job, but it  didn't feel like there  was a true                                                               
public member.                                                                                                                  
10:02:16 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said many  of the described changes are                                                               
in  Section  1  of  the   bill.  Section  3  changes  the  quorum                                                               
requirements.  Section 4  changes  the employment  status of  the                                                               
council staff,  except for the  executive director,  to nonexempt                                                               
positions. Section 5 modifies the  language in statute that deals                                                               
with exempt  employees. Section 6  adds a new  subsection dealing                                                               
with the appointment of a new member on the council.                                                                            
10:03:44 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH  said there  is  a  question if  staff                                                               
would  have  to  take  a   pay  decrease  to  move  to  nonexempt                                                               
positions. She  also doesn't know  if the employees would  have a                                                               
waiting   period  for   health  insurance   and  if   preexisting                                                               
conditions will  be covered.  She has  a conceptual  amendment to                                                               
strip that part of  the bill and find out if  she can rewrite it.                                                               
It can  also be worked  on in committee. The  taskforce supported                                                               
the change because  the council staff should not  be exposed when                                                               
governors change,  because continuity  is important.  She doesn't                                                               
want people to lose benefits or  wages. "We were trying to secure                                                               
their positions currently as they  exist today, and let them have                                                               
that nonexempt position."                                                                                                       
CHAIR MENARD said she could reschedule the bill for Thursday.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH  suggested  having the  changes  refer                                                               
only to future employees, but that could create an inequity.                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN asked why the definition of "rural" is 7,500.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH  said the  other body wanted  Bethel to                                                               
be  considered  a  rural  community.  There  are  five  different                                                               
definitions  of  rural  in state  statute.  That  definition  may                                                               
increase the number of applicants to the council.                                                                               
CHAIR MENARD held HB 63 in committee.                                                                                           

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