Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/18/2010 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 260 ELECTRIC & TELEPHONE COOPERATIVES' VOTING TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 260 Out of Committee
*+ SB 261 ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL BD MEMBERS TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 261 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
          SB 261-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL BD MEMBERS                                                                      
                                                                                                                              
9:18:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD said the next item  to come before the committee was                                                               
SB 261.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
TIM BENINTENDI,  aide to Senator  Olson, said SB 261  responds to                                                               
the   array  of   alcohol  related   problems  unique   to  small                                                               
communities  in rural  Alaska. Wellness  services cannot  keep up                                                               
with the adverse impact of  alcohol related problems. The profile                                                               
of  these problems  needs  to be  raised.  The state's  Alcoholic                                                               
Beverage Control  Board (ABC) is  comprised of five  members, two                                                               
of  whom  must be  actively  engaged  in the  alcoholic  beverage                                                               
industry and three  of whom represent the general  public. SB 261                                                               
would require  one of  the three general  public positions  to be                                                               
filled  by a  resident of  a rural  area. SB  261 defines  "rural                                                               
area" as  a community with a  population of 4500 or  less that is                                                               
not  connected by  road  or  rail to  Anchorage  or Fairbanks.  A                                                               
defined  rural board  member could  affect policy  discussion and                                                               
ABC Board decisions in a positive way.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MEYER  asked  for examples  of  communities  that  would                                                               
qualify.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BENINTENDI listed  several communities  that would  qualify:                                                               
Dillingham,  Unalaska, any  community  in  the Lincoln  Peninsula                                                               
Borough, Nome  and Kotzebue. He  noted he is referring  to cities                                                               
or communities as opposed to census  areas. He stated that SB 261                                                               
would  not take  effect until  the next  available public  member                                                               
seat turns over.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:22:49 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER  noted some  areas under  4500 are  dry communities                                                               
and asked  if someone from a  dry community should be  on the ABC                                                               
Board.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BENINTENDI  replied yes,  an applicant  from a  dry community                                                               
would  be valid.  He  explained that  while  dry communities  are                                                               
officially  dry, they  still have  alcohol  related problems  and                                                               
rural representation  on the ABC  Board could bring  attention to                                                               
these problems and some specific focus into the forum.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH said he questioned how  to define a rural area. He                                                               
asked if our  statutes define "community" and how big  of an area                                                               
a community is.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. BENINTENDI replied that he  originally looked at a definition                                                               
of a small community as 5500  people. He said communities of that                                                               
size  have   more  resources;  SB   261  is  aiming   at  smaller                                                               
communities and their issues.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  if  Auke  Bay or  Douglas,  in the  Juneau                                                               
region, are smaller communities.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. BENINTENDI replied  that Auke Bay and Douglas  are within the                                                               
Juneau City and Borough and would not be eligible.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  said someone  from the  greater Juneau  area, for                                                               
example,  should not  be  the rural  representative.  He said  he                                                               
supports the  idea of  SB 261 but  is concerned  that "community"                                                               
could be interpreted as a subset of a city or a borough.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:26:08 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MENARD asked  about Southeast  communities  that would  be                                                               
eligible.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BENINTENDI replied  he thought  any community  outside of  a                                                               
borough in Southeast  would qualify. He noted  that Ketchikan and                                                               
Sitka would be too big but Skagway and Angoon would be eligible.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DALE FOX,  President and CEO,  Alaska Cabaret,  Hotel, Restaurant                                                               
and  Retailers  Association  (CHARR),  noted only  ten  days  had                                                               
passed  since SB  261 was  posted online  and CHARR'S  Government                                                               
Affairs  Committee has  not  had  a chance  to  review it.  CHARR                                                               
members have  expressed, through initial emails,  that they don't                                                               
think a problem  exists and that governors have done  a great job                                                               
of balancing  boards. He  said the five  current ABC  members are                                                               
from Anchorage,  Fairbanks, Juneau and Cordova.  Belen Cook, from                                                               
Cordova,   would   fit   the  definition   of   rural   community                                                               
representative according  to SB  261. He noted  that Ms.  Cook is                                                               
Chair of the  annual Sobriety Celebration in Cordova  and is very                                                               
concerned about  alcohol issues.  He asked  the committee  not to                                                               
pass SB 261  out until the industry has an  opportunity to review                                                               
and discuss it.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:29:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD  said SB 261 goes  to Labor and Commerce  next which                                                               
would allow ample opportunity for CHARR to weigh in.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT FROEHLE,  Superintendant, Nome Youth Facility  and member,                                                               
Regional Wellness Forum (RWF), said  the RWF is in strong support                                                               
of SB  261. He said he  appreciates that the ABC  Board currently                                                               
has a  member from Cordova  and would  like to ensure  that small                                                               
communities continue to  get representation. He said  he sees the                                                               
effects of  alcohol on  daily basis on  the community's  kids and                                                               
families.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BIRDIE  TRAINOR,  Director,  Coed Wellness  Program  and  Suicide                                                               
Prevention Program,  testified on behalf of  Berda Willson, Chair                                                               
of the Regional Wellness Forum  (RFW). Ms. Trainer read a written                                                               
statement from Ms. Willson.  Ms.  Willson wrote that she has seen                                                               
the ravages  that alcohol and  substance abuse are  inflicting on                                                               
her people.  She wrote that  the RWF supports the  Safety Patrol,                                                               
made up  of about 150  volunteers, which patrols during  the PFD,                                                               
New Year's  Eve and the  Iditarod to keep residents  and visitors                                                               
safe  and  to  reduce  suicides, missing  persons  and  death  by                                                               
accident or freezing when people are intoxicated.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:33:17 AM                                                                                                                    
She wrote that  the RWF's next meeting will be  held at the Anvil                                                               
Mountain Correctional  Center where  inmates will talk  about how                                                               
RWF   can   help   them   prevent   repeating   their   mistakes.                                                               
Anecdotally,   90  percent   of  the   prisoners  would   not  be                                                               
incarcerated if alcohol  abuse were not a factor.  She wrote that                                                               
rural communities need a voice on  the ABC Board from someone who                                                               
understands rural  problems like  suicide, child  abuse, domestic                                                               
violence, accidental  death and  alcohol abuse.   She  noted that                                                               
while most villages are dry, alcohol  is sold or bootlegged.  Her                                                               
written statement concluded  that the RWF is  not against alcohol                                                               
consumption  and appreciates  the  ABC Board's  help in  ensuring                                                               
that liquor establishments conform to state law.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:34:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD closed public testimony.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MEYER asked if anyone from the ABC Board was present.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MENARD replied no.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MEYER  said that the  sponsor of  SB 261 wants  to ensure                                                               
that rural  representation on the  ABC Board continues,  which he                                                               
feels is a good idea.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  concurred. He said  he has some concern  with the                                                               
definition of  "community" but noted that  a subsequent committee                                                               
can  grapple with  it to  make sure  the intention  of SB  261 is                                                               
fulfilled.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MENARD reported that Senator Kookesh joined the meeting.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:36:59 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH  moved  to  report SB  261  from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note(s).  There                                                               
being no objection, the motion carried.                                                                                         

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