Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

04/13/2015 08:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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08:02:41 AM Start
08:03:30 AM SB74
09:06:05 AM Confirmation of Governor's Appointments for the Board of Fisheries
10:34:40 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Time & Date Change --
8:00 am
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
<Sponsor Presentation>
9:00 am
+ Confirmation of Governor's Appointments: TELECONFERENCED
Board of Fisheries: Orville Huntington &
Robert Ruffner
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         SB 74-MEDICAID REFORM/PFD/HSAS/ER USE/STUDIES                                                                      
8:03:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE announced  the consideration of SB  74. He welcomed                                                               
Senator Kelly's office to review bill.                                                                                          
8:03:43 AM                                                                                                                    
HEATHER   SHADDUCK,   Staff,    Senator   Kelly,   Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau,   Alaska,  provided  an  overview   of  the                                                               
committee substitute for SB 74 as follows:                                                                                      
     Senate Bill  74 starts the process  of cost containment                                                                    
     and  reform needed  to slow  the growth  of the  Alaska                                                                    
     Medicaid Program.  Medicaid has  grown to  $1.8 billion                                                                    
     of the  annual operating  budget and has  accounted for                                                                    
     22  percent  of  the total  Unrestricted  General  Fund                                                                    
     (UGF) increases over the last 10 years.                                                                                    
     The current  and former administrations  have testified                                                                    
     that  the   Medicaid  program  as  it   stands  is  not                                                                    
     sustainable. Low oil prices and  billions of dollars in                                                                    
     revenue short falls have forced  us to change how we do                                                                    
     business. In  July 2013, the  Medicaid budget  group of                                                                    
     Department  of   Health  and  Social   Services  (DHSS)                                                                    
     reported that  the total spending on  Medicaid services                                                                    
     will  reach  $6.3  billion   in  2032,  including  $2.8                                                                    
     billion in  state matching funds.  If we don't  act now                                                                    
     to bend the growth curve  of Medicaid, many of our most                                                                    
     vulnerable  Alaskans, those  who are  disabled and  our                                                                    
     children,  will  be  without  the  critical  healthcare                                                                    
     services they  need. We look  at reform as  pushing the                                                                    
     right care  in the  right place at  the right  time and                                                                    
     you can certainly add for the right price.                                                                                 
8:05:27 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. SHADDUCK addressed specific changes to SB 74 as follows:                                                                    
     Section  1, page  1, line  7,  this was  a new  section                                                                    
     added  in  by the  Senate  Health  and Social  Services                                                                    
     Committee; it  replaced a previous  Section 1,  so this                                                                    
     adds  new  sections  establishing civil  penalties  for                                                                    
     false claims for Medicaid  assistance and it authorizes                                                                    
     the  DHSS to  assess civil  penalties against  Medicaid                                                                    
     assistance providers that submit false claims.                                                                             
     Section  2,  page  3,  line 6,  this  is  our  Medicaid                                                                    
     assistance  reform program  that we  put into  statute.                                                                    
     Subsection  (a)   directs  the   DHSS  to   design  and                                                                    
     implement a program for  reforming Medicaid. The reform                                                                    
     program  must include  10 items.  The first  one, which                                                                    
     starts on line 9, is  referrals to community and social                                                                    
     support   services  including   career  and   education                                                                    
     training services  available through the  Department of                                                                    
     Labor,  the University  of Alaska,  and others.  As you                                                                    
     know,  our state  has a  lot of  training opportunities                                                                    
     through our current network  of job centers, vocational                                                                    
     rehabilitation  offices, our  Workforce Investment  Act                                                                    
     programs,  vocational training  programs, and  supports                                                                    
     through  our  extensive  nonprofits  that  provide  job                                                                    
     services in case management.  We certainly believe that                                                                    
     jobs  are the  path  to self-staining  and an  improved                                                                    
     Number  2,   line  12,  is   the  distribution   of  an                                                                    
     Explanation  of  Benefits  (EOB) to  recipients.  We've                                                                    
     heard other states are providing  EOBs, this may or may                                                                    
     not be something that our  state should be doing and we                                                                    
     think  it is  just  one  of those  tools  to get  folks                                                                    
     thinking about their healthcare.                                                                                           
8:07:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. SHADDUCK continued to provide an overview as follows:                                                                       
     Number   3,  line   14,  is   expanding   the  use   of                                                                    
     telemedicine  for Primary  Care  Behavioral Health  and                                                                    
     urgent care.                                                                                                               
     Number  4,  line  16,  is  enhancing  fraud  prevention                                                                    
     detection  enforcement. As  you are  probably aware,  a                                                                    
     lot has been  done under Andrew Peterson's  lead at the                                                                    
     Medicaid Fraud  Control Unit and  we want  to encourage                                                                    
     as much fraud prevention and enforcement as possible.                                                                      
     Number 5, line  17, is reducing the  cost of Behavioral                                                                    
     Health  Senior  and  Disability  Services  provided  to                                                                    
     Medicaid   recipients  under   the  state's   Home  and                                                                    
     Community-Based Services  Waiver; we  line up  with the                                                                    
     administration  in  our goals  for  this  and we  would                                                                    
     anticipate them  using a 1915(k)  waiver like  the DHSS                                                                    
     has testified  in previous committees this  session and                                                                    
     this  would  enhance our  federal  match  rate from  50                                                                    
     percent to 56  percent and I believe it  would also use                                                                    
     a  1915(i) option  in here  as well  and that  switches                                                                    
     folks who  were currently  paying for with  100 percent                                                                    
     general  funds (GF)  to a  50-50 state  match. We  also                                                                    
     anticipate using  telemedicine in these areas  and this                                                                    
     is kind of  if folks are at home and  getting care, you                                                                    
     can  increase telemedicine  and just  have check-in  on                                                                    
     them daily,  make sure they  are taking their  meds and                                                                    
     those kind of things.                                                                                                      
     Number 6 is pharmacy  initiatives and this is expanding                                                                    
     on what DHSS has  already done, including using generic                                                                    
     meds,  claims pricing,  and  payment  reforms prior  to                                                                    
     authorization, etc.                                                                                                        
     Number 7, line 21, page  3, is Enhanced Care Management                                                                    
     (ECM),  so  this  could  be  set  up  in  a  couple  of                                                                    
     different  ways  and these  are  methods  to teach  the                                                                    
     proper  use of  our  healthcare system  which could  be                                                                    
     pretty  overwhelming and  it's  not  intuitive to  just                                                                    
     access  that  if you  are  new  at that.  Primary  Care                                                                    
     Management Plans (PCMP)  can be used with the  use of a                                                                    
     patient-centered  medical  home  and this  is  where  a                                                                    
     Medicaid user,  often a super-utilizer, is  assigned to                                                                    
     a primary care provider to oversee their care.                                                                             
8:09:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE asked for super-utilizer to be defined.                                                                           
MS.  SHADDUCK explained  that a  super-utilizer has  been a  term                                                               
coined by  the DHSS under  the previous administration  and those                                                               
are folks who are in the  emergency room (ER) more than most. She                                                               
added  that there  are some  thresholds for  an individual  to be                                                               
referenced as a  super-utilizer where users us an ER  10 times or                                                               
more. She specified that super-utilizers  are the folks using the                                                               
ER  as  their   primary  care  doctors  instead   of  using  more                                                               
appropriate care.                                                                                                               
CHAIR  STOLTZE asked  if  "excessive" would  have  been a  better                                                               
adjective than "super."                                                                                                         
MS. SHADDUCK answered probably.                                                                                                 
She continued to provide an overview as follows:                                                                                
     With  this  case  management, these  folks  would  have                                                                    
     access  to preventative  care, primary  care, vaccines,                                                                    
     flu shots,  and all  appropriate care.  Another example                                                                    
     is special  treatment for  identified needs,  folks who                                                                    
     are  pregnant, have  diabetes, asthma  and  so on,  you                                                                    
     want  to  have  the appropriate  specialized  care  for                                                                    
     those folks.                                                                                                               
     Number 8, line 22,  is redesigning the payment process,                                                                    
     including fee agreements  for performance measures that                                                                    
     include premium payments for  Centers of Excellence and                                                                    
     penalties    for    hospital    acquired    infections,                                                                    
     readmissions,  and  failures   of  outcomes.  We  would                                                                    
     anticipate  DHSS  would  also  use  bundled  rates  for                                                                    
     physicians and diagnosis  related groups for hospitals.                                                                    
     For  example, instead  of going  into the  hospital and                                                                    
     having a  fee for  service and  getting charged  for an                                                                    
     Advil, an  IV and everything  they do, it would  be one                                                                    
     bundled  rate; for  instance, if  you go  in and  get a                                                                    
     knee replacement.                                                                                                          
     Number 9  is stakeholder involvement in  setting annual                                                                    
     targets for quality and cost effectiveness.                                                                                
     Number  10,  line  28,  is   reducing  travel  cost  by                                                                    
     requiring a  recipient to  obtain Medicaid  services in                                                                    
     their  home community  to the  extent appropriate  when                                                                    
     services  are available  there. We  definitely need  to                                                                    
     reduce  travel  where  we   can.  We  would  anticipate                                                                    
     expanded  use of  telemedicine. DHSS  has options  like                                                                    
     going after a choice-waiver  that they can direct folks                                                                    
     where to  receive their  care. We would  hope to  see a                                                                    
     better coordination of travel overall  if a mom and her                                                                    
     kids have  several preventative  trips that  they would                                                                    
     need to come in from  a village to Anchorage instead of                                                                    
     having mom come in to  get one checkup and returning to                                                                    
     her village  and then traveling again  into Anchorage a                                                                    
     couple  of weeks  later with  her  children that  would                                                                    
     need  somebody to  travel with  them.  DHSS and  Indian                                                                    
     Health  Service (IHS)  facilities  can coordinate  that                                                                    
     travel all together if it is preventative in nature.                                                                       
SENATOR  HUGGINS addressed  number  10 regarding  "To the  extent                                                               
consistent with  federal law." He  asked what the federal  law is                                                               
and what hurdles are involved.                                                                                                  
MS.  SHADDUCK  answered  that  Medicaid  has  many  hurdles  with                                                               
federal  law. She  detailed that  many of  the provisions  in the                                                               
proposed reforms must  be approved by the  federal government for                                                               
state  plan  amendments.  She   surmised  that  "consistent  with                                                               
federal law"  probably means  that the reforms  are in  line with                                                               
Alaska's  state plan  for everything  that  the Medicaid  program                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS  commented that he  has heard that the  state has                                                               
applied for  waivers and asked if  travel is an issue  that has a                                                               
waiver potential.                                                                                                               
CHAIR STOLTZE asked that should  the bill be enacted, would there                                                               
be an implicit agreement to pursue  all of the items noted in the                                                               
bill or  would the pursuit continue  to be on a  "trust me" basis                                                               
with both DHSS and the federal government.                                                                                      
8:13:59 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. SHADDUCK  explained that there  are explicit  directions that                                                               
DHSS would apply for any  waivers required to implement the items                                                               
addressed in  the bill. She added  that the fiscal notes  back up                                                               
what waivers that would be  applied for, so legislative intent is                                                               
certainly shown. She  detailed that a little bit  later there are                                                               
some  conditional effects  so that  once DHSS  receives the  okay                                                               
from the  federal government  to change the  state plan  and gets                                                               
approval  for  the waivers,  the  law  won't officially  go  into                                                               
MS. SHADDUCK continued to provide an overview as follows:                                                                       
     Subsection (b),  line 31, page  3, this  subsection has                                                                    
     DHSS   identify   the   areas  of   the   state   where                                                                    
     improvements and  access to telemedicine would  be most                                                                    
     effective  in reducing  the cost  of Medicaid;  it also                                                                    
     allows  DHSS  to  enter  into  an  agreement  with  IHS                                                                    
     providers   if   necessary   to   improve   access   to                                                                    
     telemedicine  facilities  and  equipment.  As  you  are                                                                    
     probably aware, IHS facilities  have a pretty extensive                                                                    
     network  of telemedicine,  we would  certainly want  to                                                                    
     partner with them where possible.                                                                                          
     Subsection  (c), line  7,  page 4,  this  is a  section                                                                    
     about reports  and the subsection requires  the DHSS to                                                                    
     annually  report to  the Legislature  on October  15 of                                                                    
     every year  and to  have those  reports roll  in before                                                                    
     the legislative  session. Some of these  measures would                                                                    
     focus on: realized cost savings  related to the reforms                                                                    
     in   the   program,   savings  from   reforms   efforts                                                                    
     undertaken  by DHSS,  and a  statement of  whether DHSS                                                                    
     has   met  annual   targets   for   quality  and   cost                                                                    
     effectiveness.  There  would be  other  recommendations                                                                    
     for  the  Legislature, including  legislative  changes,                                                                    
     budget changes,  impacts of  federal laws,  and results                                                                    
     of  the demonstration  projects.  Basically  I look  at                                                                    
     this  section as  everything that  legislators want  to                                                                    
     know  to continue  to monitor  and reform  the Medicaid                                                                    
     program.  I  suspect  that this  report  will  be  very                                                                    
     useful to our Health  and Social Services Committee and                                                                    
     both of the finance committees.                                                                                            
8:16:14 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked if he  was being naïve to  expect tangible                                                               
results to be reported by October 15.                                                                                           
MS. SHADDUCK replied  that results for the first  year on October                                                               
15  will be  sketchy. She  pointed out  that the  report will  be                                                               
presented annually. She  noted that the date was  chosen to leave                                                               
enough time to propose legislative or budgetary changes.                                                                        
SENATOR HUGGINS commented that he supports reform. He remarked                                                                  
that the questions of expansion should be based upon the results                                                                
of reform and not in spite of it.                                                                                               
MS. SHADDUCK continued to provide an overview as follows:                                                                       
     Subsection (d), page  5, line 10, this  just provides a                                                                    
     definition for telemedicine.                                                                                               
     Section  3, page  5,  line 15,  this  requires DHSS  to                                                                    
     design and implement a  demonstration project to reduce                                                                    
     the  non-urgent use  of  the  emergency departments  of                                                                    
     Medicaid recipients;  again, this  is where I  used the                                                                    
     term super-utilizer, this would  build on what DHSS has                                                                    
     already  done  with  their super-utilizer  program  and                                                                    
     it's about directing individuals  to the right care, at                                                                    
     the right time, at the right place.                                                                                        
     Subsection 5,  page 6, line  1, sets out a  process for                                                                    
     referring  a frequent  ER utilizer  to  a primary  care                                                                    
     provider  within 96  hours after  an ER  visit. We  are                                                                    
     really  trying  to  teach  people  how  to  use  proper                                                                    
     healthcare and  get them into  primary care  where ever                                                                    
     possible   and  this   section  also   includes  strict                                                                    
     guidelines  for  the  prescribing of  narcotics  and  a                                                                    
     prescription monitoring program.                                                                                           
     Section 4, page  6, line 12, this was  also an addition                                                                    
     by  the Senate  HSS Committee,  this requires  DHSS and                                                                    
     the  Attorney  General  to annually  prepare  a  report                                                                    
     regarding  fraud  prevention, abuse,  prosecution,  and                                                                    
     vulnerabilities in the Medicaid program.                                                                                   
8:19:02 AM                                                                                                                    
She continued to provide an overview as follows:                                                                                
     Section 5, page  7, line 6, this sets  out our Medicaid                                                                    
     managed  care   or  a  case   management  demonstration                                                                    
     program  for  individuals   enrolled  in  the  Medicaid                                                                    
     Subsection (a), Alaska  is about one of  only 12 states                                                                    
     to  not employ  some  sort of  managed  health plan  in                                                                    
     their   Medicaid  population.   Individuals  would   be                                                                    
     managed by a traditional  insurance carriers like Moda,                                                                    
     Aetna, or  Premera. I  would anticipate  these Medicaid                                                                    
     folks  would get  regular  insurance  cards instead  of                                                                    
     Medicaid  cards and  that  is  certainly helping  their                                                                    
     self-outlook;  some folks  that have  run health  plans                                                                    
     like  these cite  better outcomes  and more  one-on-one                                                                    
     engaged care.                                                                                                              
     Comprehensive  care  management and  care  coordination                                                                    
     would be a part of  this program. For instance, someone                                                                    
     like an expectant mother who  is enrolled in the Denali                                                                    
     Kid  Care  Program would  be  engaged  by a  PCCM  case                                                                    
     manager  once she  became pregnant,  this would  be her                                                                    
     go-to person.  There would be  check-ins along  the way                                                                    
     to  make  sure  that  the woman  is  having  a  healthy                                                                    
     pregnancy, that  she was taking her  prenatal vitamins,                                                                    
     and that she was getting  her questions answered by the                                                                    
     same  provider;  the  goal  of  this  is  to  have  the                                                                    
     healthiest outcomes we  can have and this  type of plan                                                                    
     sets up relationships and  trusts between providers. If                                                                    
     you are going  in regularly and seeing  the same person                                                                    
     and talking  to them,  those vulnerabilities  will come                                                                    
     down  and those  walls will  come down.  I would  fully                                                                    
     anticipate that providers would  pick up on things that                                                                    
     folks will not share originally;  this is all about the                                                                    
     best care at the best  time. This program also requires                                                                    
     individual   and  family   support  and   referrals  to                                                                    
     community  and social  support  services including  job                                                                    
     training. Again,  we are looking  at the  whole person,                                                                    
     not just the immediate healthcare needs.                                                                                   
8:21:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked how  an  expectant  mother using  alcohol                                                               
would fit into the program that Ms. Shadduck described.                                                                         
MS. SHADDUCK replied that comprehensive  care management would be                                                               
a way to see  the factors where a case manager  would check in on                                                               
women. She  stated that  hope is that  the woman  Senator Huggins                                                               
described   would   feel   comfortable   enough   about   sharing                                                               
information with  the case manager without  feeling any judgement                                                               
and be able to get the help that  she needs. She said the hope is                                                               
that comprehensive  care management  will help reduce  the number                                                               
of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) cases.                                                                                          
She continued to provide an overview as follows:                                                                                
     Section  5,  subsection  (b), page  7,  line  29,  this                                                                    
     requires DHSS to enter into  contracts with one or more                                                                    
     third party administrators for this project.                                                                               
     Subsection (c), page 8,  this outlines requirements for                                                                    
     DHSS  and the  third party  administrator for  services                                                                    
     and fees.                                                                                                                  
     Subsection (d),  page 8, line  12, this shows  that the                                                                    
     project must include cost  saving measures that include                                                                    
     innovations and  that would be reducing  travel through                                                                    
     the  expanded  use  of  telemedicine  for  primary  and                                                                    
     urgent  care  services.  Alaska  Native  Tribal  Health                                                                    
     Consortium  (ANTHC) has  led the  way on  telemedicine;                                                                    
     they have  done studies that  show about 40  percent of                                                                    
     telemedicine  visits  have  avoided travel.  ANTHC  has                                                                    
     capacity across  the state, so we  can certainly expand                                                                    
     on that and learn from  what they have done. Subsection                                                                    
     (d)  also  simplifies   administrative  procedures  for                                                                    
     providers  including  streamlining  the  audit  payment                                                                    
     process for stakeholders.                                                                                                  
8:23:31 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL called  attention  to  subsection (b)  regarding                                                               
"third  party" and  asked Ms.  Shadduck if  she had  a chance  to                                                               
research   those  that   are  available.   He  inquired   if  the                                                               
Legislature will have  a chance to hear from  the potential field                                                               
of third party administrators.                                                                                                  
MS.  SHADDUCK  answered  that  there   is  a  letter  from  Aetna                                                               
supporting  managed care  in the  Medicaid program.  She detailed                                                               
that conversations  with the third party  administrators have not                                                               
occurred, but  she surmised that  Aetna, Moda, and  Premera would                                                               
be interested;  however, the legal process  regarding the request                                                               
for proposal (RFP) must be taken into account.                                                                                  
SENATOR  COGHILL replied  that his  intent  is to  make sure  the                                                               
Legislature  is  directing the  third  parties  to something  out                                                               
MS.  SHADDUCK  specified  that "third  party  administrator"  was                                                               
added to the latest version of  the bill's CS. She noted that the                                                               
bill's  sponsor wanted  to make  sure the  insurance network  was                                                               
used rather than adding more state employees in DHSS.                                                                           
She continued to provide an overview as follows:                                                                                
     Section  6,  page   8,  line  20,  this   sets  up  the                                                                    
     feasibility  studies that  DHSS  would undergo.  Before                                                                    
     the   state  can   considers   privatizing  any   state                                                                    
     function,  the  contracts  require that  a  feasibility                                                                    
     study be done. The studies  would not look the same for                                                                    
     each listed  facility to  study; those  facilities are:                                                                    
     Alaska Psychiatric Institute  (API), the Alaska network                                                                    
     of  Pioneer   Homes,  and  select  facilities   of  the                                                                    
     Division of  Juvenile Justice;  for example,  there are                                                                    
     private companies  that all they do  is run psychiatric                                                                    
     hospitals and  they have great  outcomes. API  has some                                                                    
     of the  highest rates  of workers'  compensation rates,                                                                    
     so we are  studying if privatization is  going to lower                                                                    
     the  cost and  provide better  care. One  more example,                                                                    
     certain  facilities  of  Juvenile  Justice,  there  are                                                                    
     places  like  Nome  where  you   could  turn  over  the                                                                    
     facility that  is not full  to the local  native health                                                                    
     corporation and turn it  into a residential psychiatric                                                                    
     treatment  center. Not  only would  folks be  getting a                                                                    
     culturally relevant  care by the tribes,  they would be                                                                    
     staying in their home communities.  As a bonus, instead                                                                    
     of  DHSS  paying 100  percent  general  funds (GF),  it                                                                    
     would be Medicaid reimbursable at 50 percent.                                                                              
SENATOR HUGGINS addressed lines 27 and 28 regarding dates as                                                                    
     10  days  after the  convening  of  the second  regular                                                                    
     session of the 29th Legislature.                                                                                           
He asked if a meeting would be held around February 1, 2016.                                                                    
MS. SHADDUCK answered yes.                                                                                                      
SENATOR HUGGINS requested that a cause-and-effect report on the                                                                 
changes be submitted prior to the meeting.                                                                                      
8:27:26 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. SHADDUCK continued to provide an overview as follows:                                                                       
     Section 7, page 8, line  30, this section requires DHSS                                                                    
     to  amend the  state Medicaid  plan and  apply for  any                                                                    
     waivers  necessary   to  implement  the   projects  and                                                                    
     programs described in the bill.                                                                                            
     Section 8,  page 9, line  10, this section  allows DHSS                                                                    
     to  adopt   regulations  necessary  to   implement  the                                                                    
     changes by  the act  and the  regulations may  not take                                                                    
     effect before  the dates of the  relevant provisions of                                                                    
     the act  takes effect. Section  8 allows DHSS  to start                                                                    
     on   the   regulations   now,   they   are   transition                                                                    
     regulations that  do not have  to wait for the  bill to                                                                    
     actually get  the federal government to  pass and agree                                                                    
     to everything,  DHSS can  start the  lengthy regulation                                                                    
     process beforehand.                                                                                                        
     Section 9, page 9, line  16, this section protects DHSS                                                                    
     from  having  to follow  a  law  on  the books  if  the                                                                    
     federal government won't  approve state plan amendments                                                                    
     or waivers needed to implement the law.                                                                                    
     Sections  10-14, starting  on  page 10,  line 7,  these                                                                    
     provide  for   effective  dates  for   provisions  that                                                                    
     require waiver and state  plan amendment approvals from                                                                    
     the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.                                                                          
     Section 15,  line 22,  provides an  immediate effective                                                                    
     date for Sections 6, 7, and 8.                                                                                             
8:29:33 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER VALERIE DAVIDSON, Alaska Department of Health and                                                                  
Social Services (DHSS), Juneau, Alaska, commented as follows:                                                                   
     With  regard to  committee substitute  for SB  74, DHSS                                                                    
     wants  the  committee  to  know  that  we  have  really                                                                    
     appreciated  the  collaboration  that  Senator  Kelly's                                                                    
     office has sought with us  to refine and improve SB 74.                                                                    
     The committee  substitute as  outlined by  Ms. Shadduck                                                                    
     includes costs for fraud  control efforts, contracts to                                                                    
     establish performance metrics,  and also conducting the                                                                    
     feasibility  study   on  privatizing  some   of  DHSS's                                                                    
     The bill  does contain  a section  on managed  care and                                                                    
     calls for  a demonstration  project in managed  care to                                                                    
     start by  January 2016.  We appreciate  the flexibility                                                                    
     in the  language that  will enable DHSS  to be  able to                                                                    
     really find the greatest  possible savings and coverage                                                                    
     because  as  we  have  discussed before,  not  in  this                                                                    
     committee, what  works in one  region of the  state may                                                                    
     not  work  in  another.  DHSS  really  appreciates  the                                                                    
     sponsor's willingness  to add some flexibility  so that                                                                    
     we have  the ability to  provide what is  necessary and                                                                    
     what will actually work in a particular region.                                                                            
SENATOR HUGGINS asked to confirm that Commissioner Davidson was                                                                 
referring to Medicaid.                                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER DAVIDSON answered that the bill is about Medicaid                                                                  
and specified as follows:                                                                                                       
     Medicare  is a  federal program,  federally authorized,                                                                    
     and federally  funded that provides care  to people who                                                                    
     are 65  and older. Medicaid is  a federally authorized,                                                                    
     state authorized,  and state administered  program that                                                                    
     provides aid  to people typically dependent  based upon                                                                    
     income and  there are  some folks  who can  be eligible                                                                    
     for both, but because  Medicaid is federally authorized                                                                    
     and  state  administered,  there's a  federal-match  as                                                                    
     well as a state-match.                                                                                                     
8:32:09 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS remarked  that  approximately  $720 billion  was                                                               
supposed to come  out of Medicare to fund "ObamaCare;"  that is a                                                               
big  number that  you cannot  take that  kind of  money out  of a                                                               
program. He said he was told  that Medicaid will in fact infringe                                                               
upon  Medicare patients'  ability  to get  medical service,  i.e.                                                               
done at the expense of some of his peers.                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER DAVIDSON replied as follows:                                                                                       
     When the  Affordable Care Act was  being drafted, there                                                                    
     were  a number  of considerations  that were  made with                                                                    
     regard to  providers across the  country. At  the time,                                                                    
     Medicaid  expansion was  actually  mandatory under  the                                                                    
     Affordable  Care  Act  before the  U.S.  Supreme  Court                                                                    
     struck  down  the  mandatory   provision  and  made  it                                                                    
     optional  for  states  so   that  states  could  reject                                                                    
     Medicaid expansion; a part of  that included the way to                                                                    
     be able  to pay for that  Medicaid expansion, providers                                                                    
     across  the  country  agreed  to  making  cuts  in  the                                                                    
     Medicare  program  in terms  of  the  payment and  also                                                                    
     making  cuts to  Disproportionate Share  Hospital (DSH)                                                                    
     payments  because they  would not  be able  to make  up                                                                    
     those  losses in  Medicaid  expansion.  After the  U.S.                                                                    
     Supreme   Court  decided   that  states   could  reject                                                                    
     Medicaid expansion,  many providers felt that  they got                                                                    
     a part of  the deal that they bargained  for, which was                                                                    
     they  gave up  the potential  revenue in  Medicare, and                                                                    
     they gave  up their potential revenue  in disproportion                                                                    
     share  payments, but  they lost  the opportunity  to be                                                                    
     able to regain the revenue in Medicaid expansion.                                                                          
     We have heard  from some folks that  they are concerned                                                                    
     that   there  would   be   a   crowd-out  of   Medicare                                                                    
     beneficiaries  who are  receiving services.  In Alaska,                                                                    
     Medicaid  actually pays  more than  Medicare, which  is                                                                    
     different  than in  other states,  but we  also believe                                                                    
     that  we  shouldn't  limit the  access  and  limit  the                                                                    
     opportunity  for  Alaskans  to  have  coverage  because                                                                    
     another  federally  administered program  isn't  paying                                                                    
     sufficiently to be able to do that.                                                                                        
8:35:51 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  noted that Commissioner  Davidson used  the term                                                               
"limit." He asked what Commissioner Davidson is going to limit.                                                                 
COMMISSIONER DAVIDSON  replied that  she would  take a  moment to                                                               
SENATOR  HUGGINS  stated  that  he  is not  trying  to  ask  hard                                                               
questions,  but conceded  that  the  questions have  implications                                                               
regarding a lot of people, a  lot of money, and emotions by some.                                                               
He stated that  the Commissioner can take more time  to provide a                                                               
comprehensive answer, whatever is accurate is best.                                                                             
CHAIR STOLTZE  remarked that  the committee  is not  dealing with                                                               
the  Medicaid expansion  bill, but  separating the  two bills  is                                                               
hard. He  assumed that a  lot of work  and thought has  gone into                                                               
the bill, but asserted that providing  a list of the private care                                                               
providers that  accept Medicaid  or Medicare  should be  easy. He                                                               
declared that  the provider listing  is an integral part  to what                                                               
Senator  Huggins   addressed  regarding  crowding-out.   He  said                                                               
physicians have told  him how many Medicaid  or Medicare patients                                                               
that they  can afford to  take because they are  small businesses                                                               
as well has having to deal  with the government. He remarked that                                                               
having a  discussion about Medicaid  or Medicare  without primary                                                               
care  physicians is  hard.  He added  that  senior citizens  have                                                               
voiced their  frustration in  trying to find  a doctor  that will                                                               
even  take them.  He said  the  whole issue  of crowding-out  and                                                               
having  a discussion  about Medicaid  expansion  is hard  without                                                               
having the  information. He  asserted that  Commissioner Davidson                                                               
has had an opportunity over the  past few months to interact with                                                               
the  medical community  and now  has a  pretty good  handle where                                                               
getting a  list of how  many folks are accepting  patients should                                                               
not be very hard.                                                                                                               
8:37:59 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS remarked  that  Chair Stoltze's  comments are  a                                                               
diplomatic  way of  saying let's  get back  to reform.  He stated                                                               
that he is a wholesale supporter of reform.                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  DAVIDSON  said  in  terms of  the  payers,  private                                                               
insurance  is   the  best  and  that   includes  employer-covered                                                               
insurance   and  state-covered   insurance.  She   detailed  that                                                               
Medicaid is the  next best payer, followed by  Medicare, and then                                                               
the  challenge with  people who  self-pay or  people who  have no                                                               
coverage.  She  encouraged  the  committee  to  think  about  the                                                               
arguments  for  whether  crowd-out  continues;  for  example,  if                                                               
private insurance  is a  better payer  than Medicaid,  then there                                                               
should be  an equal concern  that the number of  private insurers                                                               
should be reduced  due to its possible crowd-out  of Medicaid and                                                               
Medicare beneficiaries.  She remarked  that her  previous example                                                               
is not done because payment is recognized as being a patchwork.                                                                 
CHAIR STOLTZE  asked if Commissioner Davidson  was really talking                                                               
about getting to a single-payer.                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER DAVIDSON answered no.                                                                                              
8:39:49 AM                                                                                                                    
She said there  are general reforms that are called  for in SB 74                                                               
where DHSS will use the same  options as in SB 78: 1915(i) option                                                               
and  the  reduction  in  the  non-urgent  use  of  the  emergency                                                               
department's  super-utilizer.  She  pointed  out  that  the  term                                                               
super-utilizer is  actually defined  by the Centers  for Medicare                                                               
and Medicaid Services (CMS) because  a number of states have been                                                               
focusing  on the  super-utilizer  population for  some time.  She                                                               
detailed that  CMS has defined  super-utilizer as,  "Patients who                                                               
accumulate  large  number  of  emergency  department  visits  and                                                               
hospital   admissions  which   might  have   been  prevented   by                                                               
relatively inexpensive early intervention  and primary care." She                                                               
revealed that DHSS has undertaken the  provision in the bill as a                                                               
voluntary  effort, but  the bill  makes the  provision mandatory.                                                               
She summarized that DHSS thinks the reforms are a great idea.                                                                   
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  to verify  that Commissioner  Davidson is                                                               
talking  about demonstration  projects  for a  directive care  or                                                               
managed  care.  He  queried  how   and  where  the  demonstration                                                               
projects will occur.                                                                                                            
8:41:23 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DAVIDSON answered  that the  super-utilizer program                                                               
is a  voluntary program  that started  in December.  She detailed                                                               
that 2,000  people were identified  and enrolled in  the program.                                                               
She said DHSS's contractor  contacted super-utilizers to schedule                                                               
appointments with  a primary care  provider to hopefully  teach a                                                               
better  way to  access  service. She  added  that the  contractor                                                               
reminds  the super-utilizers  the  day prior  to appointments  as                                                               
well.  She revealed  that DHSS  was  initially apprehensive  that                                                               
people would  be resistant, but  she noted that people  loved and                                                               
embraced  the  primary  care  provider  alternative  because  the                                                               
program showed  that somebody cared  about their  health outcome.                                                               
She detailed  that the  bill allows  flexibility where  the state                                                               
either uses  a contractor or  partners with a hospital  where the                                                               
hospital can share in their savings.                                                                                            
SENATOR COGHILL  asked where the voluntary  demonstration project                                                               
is being implemented.                                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER  DAVIDSON  answered  that  the  program  started  in                                                               
Anchorage and will be implemented  next in Fairbanks and the Mat-                                                               
Su Borough.                                                                                                                     
She  revealed  that SB  74's  fiscal  notes  do not  include  the                                                               
savings revenue and costs through  Medicaid expansion because the                                                               
bill does not have Medicaid  expansion. She added that the fiscal                                                               
notes  do not  include the  savings from  the Tribal  1115 Waiver                                                               
which are included in SB 78.                                                                                                    
8:44:57 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS asked for an explanation of the 1115 Waiver.                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DAVIDSON  answered  that  Medicaid  has  a  lot  of                                                               
federal requirements, including choice  of provider. She detailed                                                               
that  states can  implement a  number of  waivers, including  the                                                               
1115 Waiver,  which allows  states to waive  or negotiate  a deal                                                               
with CMS to waive some of the requirements.                                                                                     
SENATOR HUGGINS asked  if the super-utilizer or  any provision is                                                               
waivable. He  remarked that  he finds it  interesting that  a law                                                               
has turned  the state's system  into a totally  dysfunctional one                                                               
where the state continues to feel bound by that law.                                                                            
COMMISSIONER DAVIDSON  answered that there are  times when limits                                                               
in the law are  recognized and DHSS is allowed to  do things on a                                                               
voluntary basis. She detailed that  the super-utilizer program is                                                               
voluntary and not  mandatory because a voluntary  program may not                                                               
necessarily require a demonstration  waiver. She specified that a                                                               
mandatory program  may have to  seek a waiver  where requirements                                                               
are  waived; for  example, freedom  of choice  is waived  where a                                                               
person is  required to  be matched with  a primary  care provider                                                               
rather than having the freedom to choose an emergency room.                                                                     
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  to verify  that  the 1115  Waiver is  the                                                               
broadest waiver  that can  be applied  to the  Medicaid program's                                                               
8:47:35 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER DAVIDSON answered correct.                                                                                         
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  to verify  that the  1915 Waiver  is much                                                               
more specific.                                                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER  DAVIDSON  answered  that the  1915(i)  and  1915(k)                                                               
options were created under the  Affordable Car Act. She specified                                                               
that  1915(i)  and  1915(k)  are options  and  not  waivers.  She                                                               
explained that the  options allow DHSS to  negotiate an agreement                                                               
with  CMS  to  refinance  the  way  services  are  provided;  for                                                               
example, instead of having to  use 100 percent from state general                                                               
funds,  the  1915(i) allows  50  percent  general funds  and  the                                                               
1915(k) moves the state-match from 50 percent to 44 percent.                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  pointed out that some  regulations have required                                                               
several years  to write.  He asked  how long  writing regulations                                                               
for Medicaid reform will take.                                                                                                  
8:49:55 AM                                                                                                                    
JON SHERWOOD,  Deputy Commissioner,  Alaska Department  of Health                                                               
and Social Services, Juneau, Alaska,  replied that based upon the                                                               
regulations project's complexity and priority,  3 to 9 months. He                                                               
noted that  time for two  levels of  review by the  Department of                                                               
Law and a  public comment period has to be  taken into account as                                                               
SENATOR  COGHILL  noted  that  the   directive  under  Section  7                                                               
instructs  DHSS   on  waivers   and  notices   for  demonstration                                                               
projects,   telemedicine,   and   case   management.   He   asked                                                               
Commissioner Davidson if she has a  list of things required in SB
74 for  a State Plan Amendment  (SPA) or waivers. He  inquired if                                                               
either "waiver"  or "amendment"  is the right  word to  say under                                                               
Section 7.                                                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER DAVIDSON  answered that  DHSS has  a good  handle on                                                               
which would require  a waiver or SPA. She  explained that waivers                                                               
are generally required when certain  Medicaid requirements of the                                                               
Medicaid program  are going  to be  waived; for  example, waiving                                                               
statewideness  or choice  provider. She  detailed that  a SPA  is                                                               
submitted  to the  CMS in  order to  change the  state plan.  She                                                               
noted  that negotiating  agreements  and  collaborating with  CMS                                                               
prior to  an SPA  submission helps move  things along  and avoids                                                               
SENATOR COGHILL  asked what  the timelines  were for  waivers and                                                               
the SPA process.                                                                                                                
8:53:56 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DAVIDSON answered  that SPAs  are generally  faster                                                               
and  can be  done  in a  few  months when  there  is pretty  good                                                               
alignment  and   agreement.  She  said  1115   Waivers  that  are                                                               
complicated  can  take up  to  a  year  or longer  to  negotiate;                                                               
however,  the  time  is  well  worth  the  effort  based  on  the                                                               
opportunity for savings.                                                                                                        
SENATOR  HUGGINS  pointed out  that  the  U.S. Supreme  Court  is                                                               
making a  ruling in  June on "ObamaCare"  and asked  if modifiers                                                               
are being  anticipated for what  is currently being  discussed in                                                               
the committee.                                                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER  DAVIDSON specified  that the  case before  the U.S.                                                               
Supreme  Court, King  v.  Burwell,  is really  a  case about  the                                                               
subsidized   insurance  plans   on   the  federally   facilitated                                                               
marketplace.  She explained  that  when the  Affordable Care  Act                                                               
started, the  federal government offered grants  to participating                                                               
states to build  up state marketplaces for residents  to shop and                                                               
purchase  insurance plans.  She  said states  that  chose not  to                                                               
participate  or  did  not  meet timelines  were  subject  to  the                                                               
federally facilitated  marketplace; Alaska  and other  states are                                                               
subject to  the federally facilitated marketplace.  She specified                                                               
that the  case before  the U.S.  Supreme Court  addresses whether                                                               
the marketplace  plans on  the federally  facilitated marketplace                                                               
can continue  to stand. She  said in anticipation of  the ruling,                                                               
either  states will  continue status  quo or  build up  their own                                                               
state marketplace.  She added that  states building up  their own                                                               
marketplace is  typically very expensive.  She revealed  that the                                                               
opportunities for the significant  federal dollars that came with                                                               
the original grants has gone away  and are no longer available to                                                               
states.  She detailed  that options  that states  are considering                                                               
are building up  a state "store front" in front  of the federally                                                               
facilitated  marketplace   that  looks  like  a   state  specific                                                               
marketplace,  or consideration  in a  state's ability  to utilize                                                               
another state's marketplace.                                                                                                    
8:57:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  to  verify  that Commissioner  Davidson's                                                               
previous description  on the insurance  plans is  essentially the                                                               
ability  to  take  taxpayers'  money and  subsidize  if  a  state                                                               
exchange is not used.                                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER DAVIDSON answered yes.                                                                                             
CHAIR STOLTZE asked if anyone in  the public wished to testify on                                                               
the bill. He announced that public testimony was closed.                                                                        
He asked that  DHSS bring back a chart with  the department's and                                                               
Governor Walker's letterhead regarding  the anticipated growth of                                                               
Medicaid, absent  expansion. He  reiterated that Medicaid  is one                                                               
of the state's three cost-drivers for budget growth.                                                                            
CHAIR STOLTZE announced that SB 74 is set aside.                                                                                
9:00:21 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
^Confirmation  of  Governor's  appointments   for  the  Board  of                                                               
    Confirmation of Governor's appointments for the Board of                                                                
9:06:05 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE  called the committee  back to order.  He announced                                                               
that the committee's  next order of business  is the confirmation                                                               
of the Governor's appointments for the Board of Fisheries.                                                                      
9:06:33 AM                                                                                                                    
ORVILLE  HUNTINGTON,  appointee,   Board  of  Fisheries,  Huslia,                                                               
Alaska, revealed  that his  primary employer  is the  Tana Chiefs                                                               
Conference and he  serves as the Wildlife and  Parks Director. He                                                               
detailed that he  has lived in Alaska his entire  life, served on                                                               
many  educational  science  boards,  and  has  tried  to  promote                                                               
education in  the state for many  years. He revealed that  he has                                                               
served  one term  on the  Board  of Fisheries  and expressed  his                                                               
interest in serving for another term.                                                                                           
CHAIR STOLTZE pointed out that  three committee members had heard                                                               
Mr. Huntington testify in the Senate Resources Committee.                                                                       
SENATOR COGHILL said he  appreciated Mr. Huntington's willingness                                                               
to serve on the  Board of Fisheries and noted that  he had a good                                                               
record while serving his first term.                                                                                            
CHAIR STOLTZE opened public testimony.                                                                                          
9:08:31 AM                                                                                                                    
ANDREW  COUCH,  representing  himself, Palmer,  Alaska,  said  he                                                               
supports Mr.  Huntington's reappointment. He  noted that he  is a                                                               
member  of  the  Mat-Su  Fish and  Wildlife  Commission  and  the                                                               
Matanuska Valley  Fish and Game  Advisory Committee.  He revealed                                                               
that the  two groups that  he mentioned  have not taken  a formal                                                               
position and  he will strictly  be representing his  own business                                                               
interest. He  specified that his  experience working  through the                                                               
Upper Cook Inlet Board of  Fisheries meetings with Mr. Huntington                                                               
were positive and he supports Mr. Huntington's nomination.                                                                      
9:10:05 AM                                                                                                                    
PAUL  SHADURA, advocate,  South  K-Beach Independent  Fishermen's                                                               
Association,  Kenai, Alaska,  said he  supports Mr.  Huntington's                                                               
reappointment.  He   declared  that  South   K-Beach  Independent                                                               
Fishermen's   Association    has   reviewed    Mr.   Huntington's                                                               
qualifications  and agrees  with  the  Governor's appointment  to                                                               
serve another term.                                                                                                             
9:12:24 AM                                                                                                                    
BRUCE  KNOWLES, representing  himself, Wasilla,  Alaska, said  he                                                               
supports Mr.  Huntington's reappointment.  He said he  had worked                                                               
with  Mr.  Huntington during  his  first  term  on the  Board  of                                                               
Fisheries  and recommends  his reappointment.  He noted  that Mr.                                                               
Huntington  supports  addressing   issues  regarding  low  salmon                                                               
returns to the Mat-Su Valley region.                                                                                            
9:13:24 AM                                                                                                                    
BYRON CHARLES,  representing himself, Ketchikan, Alaska,  did not                                                               
address Mr. Huntington's reappointment.                                                                                         
9:15:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STOLTZE  closed  public  testimony  for  Mr.  Huntington's                                                               
nomination. He announced that  Mr. Huntington's confirmation will                                                               
be set aside.                                                                                                                   
9:16:08 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
9:16:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE  called the committee  back to order.  He announced                                                               
that  the  committee  will  take up  the  appointment  of  Robert                                                               
Ruffner for the Board of Fisheries.                                                                                             
9:18:28 AM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT RUFFNER, appointee, Board  of Fisheries, Soldotna, Alaska,                                                               
stated that he  will explain his qualifications and  why he wants                                                               
to serve  on the Board of  Fisheries, but first asked  to address                                                               
some of his opposition as follows:                                                                                              
     My name is  Robert Ruffner, I am very honored  to be in                                                                    
     this  position  and  it's  a  big  deal  to  deal  with                                                                    
     fisheries across the State of  Alaska. I don't have the                                                                    
     track  record that  the other  nominee who  has already                                                                    
     served on the Board. I  understand that there are a lot                                                                    
     more questions and a lot more vetting to be done.                                                                          
     I lived  in Alaska  since 1996,  46 years  old, married                                                                    
     for 22 years,  and have 2 children. I am  a graduate of                                                                    
     the  University of  Minnesota where  I studied  geology                                                                    
     and really  had an emphasis  in rivers. I've  done some                                                                    
     graduate   work  after   my  undergraduate   degree  in                                                                    
     covering a  lot of  modeling and statistics.  I've been                                                                    
     the  director of  a conservation  organization down  on                                                                    
     the Kenai  Peninsula called  the Kenai  Watershed Forum                                                                    
     since 1997.  I have  served on the  Planning Commission                                                                    
     on  the  Kenai  Peninsula  Borough  Road  Service  Area                                                                    
     My  fishing experiences,  mostly these  days I  harvest                                                                    
     all of  the fish that  I have in  my freezer and  on my                                                                    
     shelves  out  of  the Kenai  and  Kasilof  personal-use                                                                    
     fishery, it's an important fishery  to me. Rod and real                                                                    
     fishing,  I've  caught  all  five  species  of  salmon,                                                                    
     Rainbow  Trout,  Dolly  Varden,  Grayling,  Pike,  Rock                                                                    
     Fish, and  Halibut, from  Sitka when  I spent  a summer                                                                    
     down  there all  the way  up to  the Jim  River on  the                                                                    
     south side  of the Brooks Range.  My commercial fishing                                                                    
     experience has  been limited to  two days where  I was,                                                                    
     back in  the late  90s, a crew  member on  a commercial                                                                    
     gill  net;  I explained  in  the  other committees,  at                                                                    
     least  I  have that  experience  and  I know  how  that                                                                    
     fishery operates.                                                                                                          
     Why would I  want to do this? Family values  are one of                                                                    
     those   things  that   have  led   me  to   working  in                                                                    
     conservation my whole professional  career. I very much                                                                    
     think that  fishing is an important  thing, my earliest                                                                    
     childhood memories are fishing  with my grandfather and                                                                    
     my dad.  I came  up to Alaska  largely to  do adventure                                                                    
     sports,  hunting, and  fishing. Now  I am  passing that                                                                    
     tradition  to  my two  daughters.  I  am interested  in                                                                    
     public service where  I think I can  make a difference.                                                                    
     I  have  followed the  Board  of  Fisheries since  I've                                                                    
     moved here  and I do think  that I can make  a positive                                                                    
     contribution to  the whole state.  A lot of  the issues                                                                    
     that we deal with relate to  the Cook Inlet, but we all                                                                    
     should    remember   that    this   is    a   statewide                                                                    
     responsibility and  I am looking forward  to learning a                                                                    
     lot  about   the  various  parts   of  the   state  and                                                                    
     challenging myself  as I move  into this position  if I                                                                    
     am confirmed.                                                                                                              
9:21:37 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. RUFFNER addressed what he brings to the board and summarized                                                                
as follows:                                                                                                                     
     What do I  have to offer? I have a  strong personal use                                                                    
     and  sport fishing  experience, scientific  background,                                                                    
     knowledge   about   habitat  and   sustainable   salmon                                                                    
     policies, and a strong commitment to public process.                                                                       
     So  that's a  briefer version  of  what I  said to  the                                                                    
     committees personally.  In this committee  there's some                                                                    
     new information  that has come  forward since  the last                                                                    
     one, there's  a couple  of new opposition  letters that                                                                    
     have come forward.                                                                                                         
He addressed opposition to his appointment as follows:                                                                          
     As  I  see  it,  there  are  three  general  points  of                                                                    
     opposition. There  are probably  some more that  I'd be                                                                    
     happy  to  answer  some  question  on  in  the  vetting                                                                    
     process, but there are three  general ones that I would                                                                    
     like to address.                                                                                                           
     The  first  one  is  that  I  will  not  represent  all                                                                    
     Alaskans, specifically  those in Anchorage  and Mat-Su,                                                                    
     and this is a criterion by which I should be rejected.                                                                     
     Second  issue that  I see  is  that I  am aligned  with                                                                    
     commercial  fishing  organizations   to  promote  their                                                                    
     allocative agenda.                                                                                                         
     Third, I have testified  in the previous three hearings                                                                    
     to change  several specific elements of  the Cook Inlet                                                                    
     management plans.                                                                                                          
     The  first   claim  is  that  I   won't  represent  all                                                                    
     Alaskans, including  Anchorage and Mat-Su. As  far as I                                                                    
     can tell, this  appears to be based solely  on the fact                                                                    
     that  I do  not reside  in Anchorage,  which is  a fact                                                                    
     that I can't  deny. I do not live in  Anchorage, I live                                                                    
     on the  Kenai Peninsula  between the Kenai  and Kasilof                                                                    
     rivers. However,  the allocation criteria that  is laid                                                                    
     out before  board members clearly speaks  to the number                                                                    
     of  users and  benefits  to  recreational and  personal                                                                    
     use. At  each of  the previous  three hearings,  I have                                                                    
     stated that  I will  follow this  criteria that  is set                                                                    
     forth in regulation for us  and will weigh heavily when                                                                    
     it comes  to our most  popular sport fisheries.  If the                                                                    
     Legislature thinks that Anchorage  residency is a valid                                                                    
     criterion to  consider, I  would respectively  ask that                                                                    
     we  amend  AS  16.05.221, which  states  that  "Members                                                                    
     shall be appointed  on the basis of  interest in public                                                                    
     affairs, good judgement, knowledge,  and ability in the                                                                    
     field of  action of the  board and a view  to providing                                                                    
     diversity  of  interest  and  points  of  view  to  the                                                                    
     membership."  All   members  of  the   Legislature  are                                                                    
     ultimately the  judge of whether  I meet  that criteria                                                                    
     or not,  I would  submit to you,  based on  my previous                                                                    
     testimony in  what is  in my resume,  that I  meet that                                                                    
     Claim number two  is that I am  aligned with commercial                                                                    
     sport   fishing   organizations    to   promote   their                                                                    
     allocative  agenda since  they are  the majority  of my                                                                    
     supporters.  I  have  not  done   a  tally  of  who  my                                                                    
     supporters are  and who my  objectors are, but  I don't                                                                    
     believe that the majority of  the people that have gone                                                                    
     on the record  in support of me are  in fact commercial                                                                    
     fisherman.  Nearly  every  governmental entity  on  the                                                                    
     Kenai  Peninsula has  offered  support,  either in  the                                                                    
     form of a letter or in  the form of a formal resolution                                                                    
     and  that  includes:  the Kenaitze  Indian  Tribe,  the                                                                    
     Kenai Peninsula  Borough, the City  of Kenai,  the City                                                                    
     of  Homer,  the  City  of Soldotna,  and  the  City  of                                                                    
     Seward,  all  of  these   are  elected  officials  that                                                                    
     represent their respective  communities; in addition to                                                                    
     those,  there  are  major sport  fishing  organizations                                                                    
     including  the   past  president  of  the   Alaska  Fly                                                                    
     Fishers,   the   Alaska   Charter   Association   which                                                                    
     represents   115    membership   organizations,   Trout                                                                    
     Unlimited,  and  several other  regional  organizations                                                                    
     that are  clearly defining themselves as  sport fishing                                                                    
     There are a number of  guides and individuals that have                                                                    
     offered their  written support, but  there is bit  of a                                                                    
     spilt between  the sport  fishing community  in support                                                                    
     and  opposition.   The  one   that  really   caught  my                                                                    
     attention was the opposition raised  by the Kenai River                                                                    
     Sportfishing  Association letter  and I'd  be happy  to                                                                    
     address the points that they  have in their letter one-                                                                    
     by-one,  but that's  going to  take  some time  because                                                                    
     those are complicated issues, but  I am very willing to                                                                    
     go  through them  on by  one and  address those  points                                                                    
     should  the  committee  desire. At  no  point  in  this                                                                    
     process have I  committed or implied to  any user group                                                                    
     that  I am  going  to advance  an allocative  interest.                                                                    
     Only one  organization has specifically asked  me to do                                                                    
     so and when I told them  that it was not appropriate to                                                                    
     make  a  commitment before  I  am  on the  board,  they                                                                    
     reversed course and chose to  reverse their support for                                                                    
9:26:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. RUFFNER addressed the third claim against his appointment as                                                                
     Claim number  three, I have  testified and  have stated                                                                    
     on the record the following four items:                                                                                    
     First, that  the recent Board  of Fisheries  actions in                                                                    
     the  Upper Cook  Inlet  including allocation  decisions                                                                    
     are   questionable   and   need  to   be   readdressed;                                                                    
     fortunately for  me there is  a very clear  record with                                                                    
     video tape  included of what I  have specifically said,                                                                    
     I did not  say this in any  form. I did not  say that I                                                                    
     thought  that  we  should  readdress  these  allocation                                                                    
     decisions and I  will go on to say  that the management                                                                    
     plans  for   Upper  Cook  Inlet  are   among  the  most                                                                    
     complicated in the state, if  not the entire U.S.; they                                                                    
     evolved over a  long period of time  and that precedent                                                                    
     in  developing  these  plans   is  important  to  these                                                                    
     complex fisheries  and that precedent is  important for                                                                    
     me to take into consideration  when we move forward and                                                                    
     talk about Upper  Cook Inlet, I never  said they needed                                                                    
     to be readdressed.                                                                                                         
     Second  part of  that  claim was  that  the Cook  Inlet                                                                    
     commercial fishery managers  need additional management                                                                    
     flexibility  to  meet  escapement goals;  for  example,                                                                    
     avoid  large Sockeye  escapements  regardless of  their                                                                    
     resulting impacts on other  fisheries and other stocks.                                                                    
     In fact what  I said was, I said  that fishery managers                                                                    
     need to  retain their flexibility that  is presently in                                                                    
     regulation,   so  that   regulation   deals  with   the                                                                    
     emergency  authority openings  and  closings which  cut                                                                    
     both  ways, so  that is  not an  additional flexibility                                                                    
     that I am  suggesting they needed, I'm  just saying the                                                                    
     current  flexibility that  they have  is important  and                                                                    
     that is a  very important distinction that  needs to be                                                                    
     made in that claim.                                                                                                        
     Next  claim was  that  the  commercial fishery  closure                                                                    
     windows in  the Cook  Inlet do not  provide substantial                                                                    
     benefit to  inner-river fisheries,  again, what  I said                                                                    
     on the record  in Senate Resources was  that windows do                                                                    
     not  always  provide  fish to  the  river  on  weekends                                                                    
     because  of natural  variability including  things like                                                                    
     the wind  and the tide  patterns, and people  have been                                                                    
     disappointed in the past just  like they were last year                                                                    
     when windows  didn't guarantee weekend-fish. I  went on                                                                    
     to say that I generally  support the concept of windows                                                                    
     because they  increase the probably  that fish  will be                                                                    
     available  when the  majority of  Anchorage and  Mat-Su                                                                    
     residents   can   participate   in   the   personal-use                                                                    
     fisheries, so I am saying that I support that concept.                                                                     
     Last  claim   was  the   Kenai  rivers   sport  fishing                                                                    
     activities contribute to  cumulative habitat impacts on                                                                    
     humans, that is they  may warrant substantial fisheries                                                                    
     restrictions   even  when   there  are   no  measurable                                                                    
     biological impact. I didn't say  that anywhere, I don't                                                                    
     know where that claim came from.                                                                                           
     I thought it was really  important for me to go through                                                                    
     those claims and again there  are a number of others in                                                                    
     there that  we can  tackle should the  committee desire                                                                    
     one-by-one, but I want to  make this very clear where I                                                                    
     stand on  how my  thought process  is moving  into some                                                                    
     that is very  important to so many people  in the State                                                                    
     of Alaska.                                                                                                                 
9:29:27 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI noted  that  he  appreciates Mr.  Ruffner's                                                               
attendance at  the meeting. He  said he has great  admiration for                                                               
anyone that  would want to  serve on  the Board of  Fisheries. He                                                               
stated that  serving on  the Board of  Fisheries is  a tremendous                                                               
responsibility  with a  lot of  competing interests.  He remarked                                                               
that  the  concern people  have  with  Mr. Ruffner's  appointment                                                               
appears to be due to  the perception that the board's fundamental                                                               
composition  for the  past 30  years  is being  changed where  an                                                               
equal number  of sport fishing  and commercial  fishing interests                                                               
are  represented.   He  noted  that   the  Board   of  Fisheries'                                                               
composition  for the  past 30  years is  not constitutionally  or                                                               
legally  required. He  pointed out  that the  Board of  Fisheries                                                               
would  no  longer  have  someone  from  Anchorage.  He  said  the                                                               
Legislature  has heard  from  some that  the  Board of  Fisheries                                                               
process is broken  and particularly in regards to  the Cook Inlet                                                               
and he asked if Mr. Ruffner agrees or disagrees.                                                                                
MR.  RUFFNER  answered  that  he  disagrees  that  the  Board  of                                                               
Fisheries process is broken.                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if  Mr. Ruffner  agreed with  some of                                                               
the management  decisions that  have been  made in  recent years,                                                               
e.g., to shutdown set-nets back in 2012.                                                                                        
MR. RUFFNER answered that he agreed with the decision.                                                                          
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if he  agreed with  the conservation                                                               
corridor that was established for Mat-Su this past year.                                                                        
MR. RUFFNER answered yes.                                                                                                       
9:31:35 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if Mr.  Ruffner believes  that there                                                               
are any  salmon fishery management  plans that are  currently not                                                               
MR. RUFFNER  replied that  there are a  lot of  salmon management                                                               
plans  across  the  entire  state  that he  has  not  viewed.  He                                                               
specified that he  does not think there are  any management plans                                                               
in the Cook Inlet that are broken or fundamentally flawed.                                                                      
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  noted that he  had a conversation  with Mr.                                                               
Ruffner  regarding Senator  Stoltze's personal-use  priority bill                                                               
and noted  that he  thought he heard  that Mr.  Ruffner supported                                                               
the bill;  however, Mr.  Ruffner stated  in last  week's Resource                                                               
hearing  that  he did  not  support  the  bill.  He asked  if  he                                                               
misheard Mr.  Ruffner's stance on the  bill or did he  change his                                                               
MR. RUFFNER answered that his position did not change.                                                                          
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked to clarify  that Mr. Ruffner  did not                                                               
say he  supported the bill  and to also  verify that he  does not                                                               
currently support the bill.                                                                                                     
MR.  RUFFNER   replied  that  answering   Senator  Wielechowski's                                                               
question  with  a   "yes"  or  "no"  is  difficult   due  to  its                                                               
complexity. He summarized  that he could support the  bill if the                                                               
personal-use  still  fell within  the  confines  of the  existing                                                               
allocation  criteria  that is  outlined  in  the existing  salmon                                                               
policy where the conservation burden is shared equally.                                                                         
9:33:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STOLTZE  asked   if  Mr.  Ruffner  thinks   that  the  two                                                               
dipnetting organizations that first  supported and then rescinded                                                               
his  appointment may  have misheard  him  as well.  He asked  Mr.                                                               
Ruffner to verify that three folks misheard him with clarity.                                                                   
MR. RUFFNER  answered that he  has not heard from  the dipnetting                                                               
organizations if they thought that that was what he had said.                                                                   
CHAIR  STOLTZE  remarked  that   withdrawing  an  endorsement  is                                                               
unusual. He  asked if the dipnetting  organization mishearing Mr.                                                               
Ruffner was a possibility.                                                                                                      
MR.  RUFFNER  answered  that mishearing  was  a  possibility.  He                                                               
specified  that the  South-Central  Dipnetters Association  asked                                                               
him if he would fight for  a very specific allocation and he told                                                               
them that he  could not. He added  that he would not  fight for a                                                               
specific allocation for any other organization as well.                                                                         
CHAIR  STOLTZE   asked  to  verify   that  the  reason   for  the                                                               
endorsement withdrawal was due to the allocation request.                                                                       
MR. RUFFNER answered yes.                                                                                                       
CHAIR STOLTZE asked to confirm  that the dipnetting organizations                                                               
as well as Senator Wielechowski could have misheard Mr. Ruffner.                                                                
MR. RUFFNER replied that being misheard was possible.                                                                           
9:35:16 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked that  Mr. Ruffner address  the burden                                                               
of  conservation sharing  as it  pertains to  the Chinook  salmon                                                               
season  on the  Copper  River. He  inquired  if the  personal-use                                                               
fishery bears a little more  conservation burden when the Chinook                                                               
season is shutdown.                                                                                                             
MR. RUFFNER  answered that  the Chinook  harvest was  exactly the                                                               
issue  asked  of  him  whether   he  would  push  to  change  the                                                               
allocation. He  explained that the  Copper River  Area Management                                                               
Report showed  that portion  to which  everybody was  reduced was                                                               
pretty close  to being equal  across the board. He  remarked that                                                               
each fishery  is different where  timing for every user  group is                                                               
complicated.  He  detailed  that   Copper  River  issues  include                                                               
harvesting during low abundance and subsistence fishing.                                                                        
9:38:19 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  opined   that  Mr.  Ruffner  is   a  victim  of                                                               
circumstances,  but noted  that opposition  was also  due to  his                                                               
judgement and  statements on why he  wants to be on  the Board of                                                               
Fisheries. He remarked  that he would rather  have Mr. Johnstone,                                                               
the person  that previously held  the board seat, serving  on the                                                               
Board of Fisheries. He asserted  that the Governor missed a grand                                                               
opportunity in  not re-appointing Mr.  Johnstone to the  Board of                                                               
Fisheries.  He  addressed  escapement  goals  and  asserted  that                                                               
lowered escapement  goals has limited  the number of fish  in the                                                               
9:41:22 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  RUFFNER agreed  that Mr.  Johnstone is  a good  man and  the                                                               
situation  on reappointment  was  unfortunate.  He remarked  that                                                               
lowering  an escapement  goal does  not  sound like  a very  good                                                               
plan. He noted that his opposition  has stated that he is aligned                                                               
with commercial fishermen  with a desire to  reduce an escapement                                                               
goal and that is absolutely not  the case. He asserted that he is                                                               
going  to ask  some  very hard  questions  should the  department                                                               
present information  on why the  Board of Fisheries  should lower                                                               
the escapement goal.  He stated that he is not  inclined to lower                                                               
escapement goals without some really good evidence.                                                                             
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked if Mr.  Ruffner supports the way  the Cook                                                               
Inlet is currently managed.                                                                                                     
MR. RUFFNER answered yes. He  detailed that the 20 year precedent                                                               
in developing  the Cook Inlet's  management plans has  worked out                                                               
by and large pretty well.                                                                                                       
SENATOR HUGGINS  divulged that he  is a supporter of  closing the                                                               
Cook  Inlet north  of its  mouth.  He asserted  that the  current                                                               
management plan is  not working due to his  observations. He said                                                               
he is  angry when people write  articles that the problem  in the                                                               
Mat-Su is  due to  culverts and  Northern Pike.  He asked  if Mr.                                                               
Ruffner had  written articles about  the fishing problems  in the                                                               
9:43:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  RUFFNER replied  that he  has not  written any  articles. He                                                               
noted  that  he  has  surveyed  culverts in  the  Mat-Su  and  is                                                               
generally aware  of the problems in  the urban areas. He  said he                                                               
has  written  some articles  that  compared  invasive species  in                                                               
Kenai  to the  Mat-Su.  He  added that  he  had testified  before                                                               
Senate Resources the previous year regarding Northern Pike.                                                                     
SENATOR  HUGGINS  noted  that  areas  in  South  Central  without                                                               
Northern Pike and  culverts are closed to fishing.  He asked that                                                               
Mr. Ruffner explain  why he believes the  Cook Inlet's management                                                               
plans are working.                                                                                                              
9:47:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. RUFFNER  answered that the  whole state has a  Chinook salmon                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS replied that he  accepts the problem with Chinook                                                               
MR.  RUFFNER  asked what  specific  species  Senator Huggins  was                                                               
referring to.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS replied Coho salmon.                                                                                            
MR. RUFFNER answered  that he has not looked into  the details on                                                               
how Coho salmon is being managed  in the area Senator Huggins was                                                               
referring to.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS replied that he  is disappointed that Mr. Ruffner                                                               
thinks the management  plan is working because  his experience is                                                               
it is hard to catch species other than Chinook salmon.                                                                          
9:49:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE noted that Mr.  Ruffner lauded his support from all                                                               
of the local  governments on the Kenai Peninsula.  He pointed out                                                               
that  commercial  fishing  is   the  Kenai  Peninsula's  dominant                                                               
industry and  noted their goal  to maintain status quo.  He asked                                                               
what Mr. Ruffner  is trying to convey by noting  his support from                                                               
communities that have taken positions  in favor of the commercial                                                               
MR. RUFFNER  replied that  the Kenai Peninsula  is a  pretty good                                                               
reflection of  the entire  state with  both commercial  and sport                                                               
fisheries.  He noted  that  he serves  on  Soldotna's Chamber  of                                                               
Commerce and has received letters  of support from fishing guides                                                               
as  well  as  bed  and breakfast  businesses.  He  remarked  that                                                               
Soldotna is a pretty small  community that is primarily dependent                                                               
on its sport fishery.                                                                                                           
9:52:07 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked what  criteria would Mr.  Ruffner use                                                               
to decide  what level  of Coho salmon  harvest is  appropriate in                                                               
the Upper Cook Inlet.                                                                                                           
MR.  RUFFNER  asserted that  his  20  year  record on  the  Kenai                                                               
Peninsula has  shown that  nobody has a  track record  of working                                                               
more for  the overall conservation  and for producing  more fish.                                                               
He  specified that  his number  one  criteria for  how many  fish                                                               
should be commercially harvested  is contingent on the department                                                               
and  the public  telling the  Board of  Fisheries whether  or not                                                               
there  are fish  that  are  on the  spawning  grounds to  produce                                                               
sufficient  fish for  sustaining  runs that  are consistent  with                                                               
Alaska's constitution. He  said the hard part is  having to weigh                                                               
and  balance  the  excess  for  the  different  user  groups.  He                                                               
summarized that there is not  a blanket answer and decisions come                                                               
down to which area is being addressed.                                                                                          
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if Mr.  Ruffner believes there is such                                                               
a thing as over-escapement.                                                                                                     
9:54:27 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. RUFFNER answered  yes. He detailed that  over-escapement is a                                                               
yield concept  that is rooted  in biology. He noted  that friends                                                               
in commercial  fishing have told  him that  over-escapement ruins                                                               
runs and he said that statement is categorically false.                                                                         
CHAIR STOLTZE remarked  that the Mat-Su is not  familiar with the                                                               
term "over  escapement" and noted  that the Legislature  has been                                                               
told to  make sure that  the United Cook Inlet  Drift Association                                                               
(UCIDA) gets  most of the  fish. He  remarked that Fish  and Game                                                               
has testified  that the  driftnet fleet  is their  most important                                                               
management tool.                                                                                                                
MR.  RUFFNER explained  that  Sockeye salmon  coming  out of  the                                                               
Kenai and  Kasilof rivers  drives a  lot of  what happens  in the                                                               
Cook  Inlet. He  remarked  that fisheries  managers  have a  very                                                               
tough job  and there are times  when the Mat-Su suffers  from the                                                               
decisions that  are made. He  said if confirmed, he  will address                                                               
the concerns from the Mat-Su for being leery of his appointment.                                                                
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI commented  that  Senator  Stoltze raises  a                                                               
really important  point in the  way over-escapement  or perceived                                                               
over-escapement is  dealt with in  the Kenai and  Kasilof rivers.                                                               
He  said the  rivers' management  tool is  to open  up the  drift                                                               
fleet  and allow  more set-netting.  He  remarked that  committee                                                               
members' constituents head down to  the Kenai to dipnet and there                                                               
are no fish due to a  blockade from an emergency-opener. He asked                                                               
if  Mr. Ruffner  would be  open to  changing the  management tool                                                               
where  the   hours  are  extended  for   earlier  dipnetting  and                                                               
expanding the  number of sport fish  that can be taken.  He noted                                                               
that the Copper  River's personal-use fishery allows  an extra 10                                                               
salmon. He  inquired if  Mr. Ruffner  would support  changing the                                                               
management tool for the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.                                                                               
9:58:10 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. RUFFNER He replied that  he would certainly entertain changes                                                               
and would be interested in  hearing proposed changes. He detailed                                                               
that the  sport harvest as is  currently set up is  taking out of                                                               
the escapement  goal because  most of  that sport  fishing occurs                                                               
above the "counters;" they are  taking 350,000 Sockeyes with rod-                                                               
and-reel. He said part of the  issue is the "fishing power," with                                                               
a  rod-and-reel  you  can  only   catch  so  many  fish  and  the                                                               
dipnetters are  getting better at catching  fish and approximated                                                               
that 400,000  and 500,000  Sockeyes were  caught in  the previous                                                               
year. He  admitted that the  previous year  was not a  great year                                                               
for weekends. He  said he does have a shorter  drive to the Kenai                                                               
and Kasilof rivers,  but he does not want to  limit the number of                                                               
Alaskans  that want  to come  down to  his neighborhood  to catch                                                               
fish. He  opined that problems  will occur where people  will get                                                               
hurt  and conflict  between communities  increases  if the  Kenai                                                               
fisheries do not  become more orderly. He asserted  that he wants                                                               
the  job  on  the  Board   of  Fisheries  to  address  the  Kenai                                                               
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  what  Mr. Ruffner  meant  by  "more                                                               
MR. RUFFNER  replied that  he would be  surprised if  anyone that                                                               
comes down  on the third weekend  of July and looked  at the boat                                                               
fishery and say "orderly."                                                                                                      
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if  the number  of  boats should  be                                                               
MR.  RUFFNER answered  that the  number  of boats  should not  be                                                               
limited. He  said a plan must  be devised that keeps  people from                                                               
bumping  into  each  other,  arguing,   and  creating  an  unsafe                                                               
condition. He asserted that everyone  that is a policymaker has a                                                               
responsibility  to  figure  out  how to  make  the  fishery  more                                                               
orderly. He said he does not have  the answers, but wants to be a                                                               
part of the solution on the Board of Fisheries.                                                                                 
10:01:08 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked  if Mr. Ruffner could  provide some of                                                               
his ideas.                                                                                                                      
MR. RUFFNER  answered that  some of  the conflicts  come strictly                                                               
from  the infrastructure  that is  in place.  He said  not enough                                                               
infrastructure is in  place to readily accommodate  the number of                                                               
people that want to come down  to the Kenai. He noted that people                                                               
put their  boats in miles upstream  due to a lack  of parking and                                                               
the result is the  river is used as a highway to  move in and out                                                               
of  the fishery.  He added  that  more enforcement  is needed  to                                                               
address concerns  that the  fishery is abused.  He noted  that he                                                               
has fished  in the  Kenai fishery  since 1997  and has  only been                                                               
checked once.  He asserted that  lack of enforcement  is probably                                                               
pervasive across all fisheries.                                                                                                 
CHAIR STOLTZE  asked if  Mr. Ruffner  subscribes to  a conspiracy                                                               
where  fish that  is  being  shipped out  of  state  needs to  be                                                               
MR. RUFFNER answered no.                                                                                                        
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if Mr. Ruffner would recommend drift-                                                                
boat-only areas in the Kenai River.                                                                                             
MR.  RUFFNER answered  that he  responds  to the  drift-boat-only                                                               
question from  guides that use  single powerboats by  saying that                                                               
he is not  approaching the Board of Fisheries by  taking a drift-                                                               
boat agenda. He  asserted that he will weigh all  of the facts as                                                               
they come  in. He noted that  236 proposals for the  fisheries in                                                               
the Upper Cook  Inlet came before the Board of  Fisheries in 2014                                                               
and  5  votes  were  taken  where   1  vote  would  have  made  a                                                               
difference, but  the 5 votes  did not include a  drift-boat vote.                                                               
He reiterated  that he is  not carrying an agenda  for drift-boat                                                               
fisheries and will  listen to the facts if  new information comes                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if  Mr. Ruffner is  open to  having a                                                               
drift-boat-only area for the Kenai River.                                                                                       
MR. RUFFNER  replied that the  Kenai River has  a drift-boat-only                                                               
area in the  upper river. He stated that based  on current facts,                                                               
there  is no  biological  reason to  push  for a  drift-boat-only                                                               
10:04:49 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if  Mr. Ruffner  would support  some                                                               
ideas floating around where the  Upper Cook Inlet would be placed                                                               
on a  three year  cycle in addition  to adding  some conservation                                                               
MR. RUFFNER  answered that  responding to  Senator Wielechowski's                                                               
question that is  not a formal request to the  Board of Fisheries                                                               
is really not fair for him to answer.                                                                                           
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked  how large of impact  does Mr. Ruffner                                                               
believe that the commercial setnet  fishery in the Cook Inlet has                                                               
on the late Kenai Chinook salmon runs.                                                                                          
MR.  RUFFNER  answered  that he  was  glad  Senator  Wielechowski                                                               
specified "late run."  He explained that the  greatest concern is                                                               
on the Chinook's early run in  the Kenai Peninsula. He noted that                                                               
data over the  past 20 years has shown that  commercial and sport                                                               
fishing catches  have been fairly  equal during  abundant Chinook                                                               
10:06:53 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  if   the  Cook  Inlet  sharing  the                                                               
conservation  burden  with  paired  prescriptions  in  the  sport                                                               
fishery is appropriate.                                                                                                         
MR.  RUFFNER  answered  yes. He  reiterated  that  a  sustainable                                                               
salmon  policy requires  that the  conservation burden  is shared                                                               
equally.  He   asserted  that  the  department's   authority  for                                                               
emergency openers  must be  retained in order  to manage  the set                                                               
goals. He said  the Board of Fisheries does not  have the purview                                                               
to take away the department's emergency authority.                                                                              
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if there  are too many guides  on the                                                               
Kenai River.                                                                                                                    
10:08:24 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. RUFFNER  answered that there  are times when portions  of the                                                               
river are receiving  a little bit too much use.  He noted that he                                                               
has answered  the question posed  by Senator Wielechowski  in the                                                               
past  and will  continue to  say  that he's  concerned about  the                                                               
river's  overall use  rather  than on  a  particular segment.  He                                                               
asserted  that  guides  provide a  very  important  component  to                                                               
Soldotna's economy  and he is  reluctant to speak  out negatively                                                               
about their over-use  without talking about the total  use on the                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if Mr.  Ruffner is aware of  the "one                                                               
percent rule."                                                                                                                  
MR. RUFFNER answered no.                                                                                                        
10:10:04 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  specified  that  the  "one  percent  rule"                                                               
applies at  the end of  the season when two  consecutive periods'                                                               
take is less than one percent  of the season total where nets are                                                               
then required to  be taken out of the water.  He pointed out that                                                               
there has  been some argument  over how to define  "period" where                                                               
some define "period"  as 12 hours and some define  "period" as 96                                                               
hours. He  asserted that  there has  been a  lot of  concern that                                                               
defining "period"  as 96 hours  results in  a lot of  Coho salmon                                                               
being caught  that were heading  up to  the Mat-Su. He  asked Mr.                                                               
Ruffner  if he  had  any thoughts  on how  a  "period" should  be                                                               
defined or whether he supported the "one percent rule."                                                                         
MR.  RUFFNER commented  that  the level  of  detail requested  by                                                               
Senator  Wielechowski at  his current  appointment  stage may  be                                                               
above his current pay-grade. He  remarked that he agrees with the                                                               
concept's  intent  to  provide  both the  Mat-Su  and  the  sport                                                               
fishery  with abundant  levels of  Coho  salmon is  the best  and                                                               
highest use.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if Mr.  Ruffner supported limiting the                                                               
"period" to 12 hours.                                                                                                           
MR. RUFFNER  replied that  he is not  prepared to  answer Senator                                                               
Wielechowski's question due to its  level of detail. He specified                                                               
that he  does not know  enough about the implications  related to                                                               
the question.                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STOLTZE  noted that  Senator Stedman  asked Mr.  Ruffner in                                                               
the previous  committee what the  horsepower was on  the outboard                                                               
that he owns.                                                                                                                   
MR. RUFFNER  answered that he  has access to power  boats through                                                               
his work and the boat that he owns has a 15 horsepower engine.                                                                  
10:12:30 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS  noted that an  individual from  Kodiak suggested                                                               
15 years  ago about  bringing back  fish traps.  He asked  if Mr.                                                               
Ruffner agreed  that fish  traps were  pretty efficient  and fish                                                               
could not withstand the technique.                                                                                              
MR. RUFFNER answered that he thinks so.                                                                                         
SENATOR HUGGINS  replied if  Mr. Ruffner  agreed, then  he should                                                               
look at the  efficiency in commercial fishing. He  stated that he                                                               
is  not against  commercial  fishing, but  consideration must  be                                                               
given to  resetting management in order  to error on the  side of                                                               
the fish.                                                                                                                       
CHAIR  STOLTZE  commented  that  he  has  been  accused  by  some                                                               
testifiers as  promoting the commercial  fisheries due to  his ex                                                               
officio  board  membership  for   the  Alaska  Seafood  Marketing                                                               
Institute  (ASMI). He  said he  does not  think everybody  should                                                               
have to  get their fish  from a  restaurant or grocery  store and                                                               
asked if Mr. Ruffner agreed.                                                                                                    
MR. RUFFNER answered yes.                                                                                                       
10:14:08 AM                                                                                                                   
MIKE  TINKER,  representing  himself,   Ester,  Alaska,  said  he                                                               
opposes Mr. Ruffner's appointment. He  stated that Mr. Ruffner is                                                               
an academic  with great research  credentials, but he  would like                                                               
to  see a  person with  broader knowledge.  He asserted  that the                                                               
Board of  Fisheries will be unbalanced  with a person that  has a                                                               
commercial fishing preference.                                                                                                  
AL  BARRETTE, representing  himself, Fairbanks,  Alaska, said  he                                                               
opposes  Mr. Ruffner's  appointment. He  commented that  he would                                                               
rather see people nominated with  a history of participating with                                                               
the Board of Fisheries.                                                                                                         
10:20:01 AM                                                                                                                   
LOREN  FLAGG,  representing  himself,   Kenai,  Alaska,  said  he                                                               
supports Mr. Ruffner's appointment. He  noted that he worked with                                                               
Mr. Ruffner  while working at  the Alaska Department of  Fish and                                                               
Game. He  said Mr. Ruffner  was dedicated to  habitat restoration                                                               
and resource  protection. He added that  Mr. Ruffner's leadership                                                               
of the  Kenai Watershed Forum  has been recognized  statewide and                                                               
nationally. He  remarked that  the Anchorage  area representation                                                               
argument  used  by  some  in  an effort  to  stop  Mr.  Ruffner's                                                               
confirmation is  bogus and totally out  of line with Title  16 of                                                               
the Alaska statutes.                                                                                                            
CHAIR  STOLTZE commented  that  he had  better  reiterate to  his                                                               
friends  in  Kodiak that  there  is  no constitutional  right  or                                                               
designated seats on the Board of Fisheries.                                                                                     
10:21:02 AM                                                                                                                   
DAVID  ATHONS, representing  himself, Soldotna,  Alaska, said  he                                                               
supports  Mr.  Ruffner's  appointment.  He  stated  that  he  was                                                               
retired from the Alaska Department  of Fish and Game, Division of                                                               
Sport Fish  as Fisheries  Manager in  Soldotna. He  asserted that                                                               
Mr.  Ruffner  will  focus  on biology  over  politics  and  sound                                                               
management practices while considering  the best interests of all                                                               
10:23:11 AM                                                                                                                   
GARY  STEVENS, representing  himself,  Chugiak,  Alaska, said  he                                                               
opposes Mr. Ruffner's appointment. He  noted that he currently is                                                               
on  the Board  of Directors  for the  Alaska Outdoor  Council. He                                                               
specified that  the Board  of Fisheries  needs to  retain balance                                                               
and appoint  someone who  is aggressive  about getting  more fish                                                               
into  the   rivers.  He  noted  that   the  commercial  fisheries                                                               
harvested 98  percent of all  of the  wild food harvested  in the                                                               
State of Alaska in 2012.                                                                                                        
10:25:08 AM                                                                                                                   
ANDREW  COUCH,  representing  himself, Palmer,  Alaska,  said  he                                                               
supports Mr. Ruffner's appointment.                                                                                             
10:27:13 AM                                                                                                                   
BRUCE  KNOWLES, representing  himself, Wasilla,  Alaska, did  not                                                               
provide an endorsement in support  or opposition of Mr. Ruffner's                                                               
10:29:02 AM                                                                                                                   
BILL  IVERSON, representing  himself, Soldotna,  Alaska, said  he                                                               
opposes Mr.  Ruffner's appointment.  He divulged  that he  is the                                                               
President of the  Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC).  He declared that                                                               
AOC opposes Mr. Ruffner being  confirmed because his confirmation                                                               
would  un-balance  the Board  of  Fisheries.  He noted  that  Mr.                                                               
Ruffner  indicated that  the current  fish  management plans  are                                                               
working, but clearly they are not working.                                                                                      
10:30:29 AM                                                                                                                   
MIKE NAVARRE,  Mayor, Kenai Peninsula Borough,  Soldotna, Alaska,                                                               
said he  supports Mr. Ruffner's  appointment. He stated  that the                                                               
Kenai Peninsula  Borough Assembly  passed a  resolution endorsing                                                               
Mr. Ruffner's appointment to the  Board of Fisheries. He asserted                                                               
that all fisheries  are important to the Kenai  Peninsula. He set                                                               
forth that Mr.  Ruffner will listen to all  interested groups and                                                               
individuals and will make well  informed, balanced, and impartial                                                               
decisions in the best interest of the resource.                                                                                 
10:34:40 AM                                                                                                                   
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair  Stoltze  adjourned  the   Senate  State  Affairs  Standing                                                               
Committee hearing at 10:34 a.m.                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Resume - Orville Huntington - BOF Appointee.pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
Confirmation - Board of Fisheries
Resume & Transmittal Letter - Robert Ruffner - BOF Appointee.pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
Confirmation - Board of Fisheries
SSTA Consolidated Opposition Letters for Robert Ruffner - Appointee to Board of Fisheries - 4-12-15.pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
Confirmation - Board of Fisheries
SSTA Consolidated Support Letters for Robert Ruffner - Appointee to Board of Fisheries - 4-12-15.pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
Confirmation - Board of Fisheries
SSTA Consolidated Support Letters for Orville Huntington - Re-Appointment to Board of Fisheries - 4-12-15.pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
Confirmation - Board of Fisheries
SB 74 Sponsor Statement (Updated to Version S).pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB 74 Explanation of Changes by Sponsor (from versions H to S).pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB 74 Supporting Documents - Medicaid Fraud Press Release & Article.pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB74 - 14 Published Fiscal Notes for SB 74 - Apply to Initial Version (H).pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB74 - 15 Fiscal Notes for SB 74 - Apply to CS(HSS) Version (S).pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 74
SB 74 Sectional Analysis - CS(HSS).pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 74
BOF Confirmation Public Testimony - Additional Opposition Letters for Mr. Ruffner 4-13-15.pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
BOF Confirmation Public Testimony - Additional Support Letters for Mr. Huntington 4-13-15.pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
BOF Confirmation Public Testimony - Additional Support Letters for Mr. Ruffner 4-13-15.pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM
BOF Confirmation Public Testimony - Fax Byron Charles 4-13-15.pdf SSTA 4/13/2015 8:00:00 AM