June 26, 2004
HB 25, sponsored by Juneau Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, was inspired by the Five Wishes legislation that has been adopted in 37 other states. It provides a simplified approach for those who wish to record end-of-life instructions, which address medical, personal, emotional, and spiritual needs.
HB 427, sponsored by Anchorage Rep. Tom Anderson, regulates private guardians and conservators, those individuals who have the responsibility to make housing, legal, and medical decisions for seniors, the disabled, and the mentally ill. Until now, such persons have been completely unregulated in Alaska. "This has opened the door for mistreatment and abuse by some individuals who consider our seniors and other vulnerable adults easy prey to target their assets," Murkowski said. "This bill will go a long way to help protect vulnerable Alaskans by requiring a minimum level of professional experience and registration with the state."
HB 489 corrects a technical problem with the administration of the Alaska Vocational Training Center (AVTEC). When the statutory authority transferred from Department of Education to the Department of Labor, regulation adoption authority was omitted - this bill corrects that problem.
HB 559, sponsored by the House Finance Committee, re-authorizes the State Training and Employment Program (STEP) for another four years, until June 30, 2008. STEP was created in 1989 to provide training to unemployed Alaskans in order to assist them in getting back into the workforce. "STEP has provided training for 16,000 Alaskans and, at 83.5 percent, has the highest rate of participants that obtain employment in the country," Murkowski said.
SB 278 is a "user pays" bill that will help generate funds needed to put more electrical inspectors to work. The Department of Labor issues certificates of fitness to electricians and plumbers. This bill increases the biennial fee from $160 to $200. The bill also establishes a $200 inspection fee for recreational devices, such as carnival rides, and a $200 fee that will accompany boiler operator license applications.
HB 484 imposes a correctional facility surcharge on defendants who are convicted of a crime and booked into a correctional facility. The charge will be $100 for a felony, and $50 for a misdemeanor. It also imposes a fine on individuals who violate their parole and are returned to a correctional facility and imposes a $100 fee for individuals on parole or probation who wish to transfer to another jurisdiction. "These fees simply reflect the additional costs to the taxpayer of managing criminals or those accused of crimes," Murkowski said.
HB 545 relates to negotiated lease extensions. Current law prohibits the administration from negotiating lease extensions unless the landlord is willing to reduce the rate 15% from the current rate - regardless of whether the rate is already under market rate. There are many cases, however, where the state could save money by continuing current leases at below market rates, however the landlord can not financial offer an additional 15% reduction. The result is a cost to the state in procuring a new lease at market rates and incurring moving expenses. "The bill allows the Department of Administration to negotiate lease extensions when they negotiate a lease that is at least 5% below market - saving the state money over the long-term," Murkowski said.
SB 231 shortens dormancy periods for inactive accounts and uncashed checks. This will increase the Department of Revenue's success rate in locating owners of unclaimed property and also help companies clear their books of non-collected items. Uncollected funds transferred to the state generate revenue to be deposited in the general fund.
SB 232 makes changes to the state's retirement system to ensure compliance with federal IRS changes and maintain our status as a qualified plan. The changes will allow monies to be paid pre-tax and eligible for IRA rollovers.
HB 495, sponsored by Ketchikan Rep. Bill Williams, defines joint action agencies as political subdivisions of the state for the purposes of securities law. "This change will allow the Four Dam Pool to refinance their approximately $73 million loan owed to the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to a lower rate, benefiting the consumers who are served by those hydro projects," Murkowski said.
HB 447 is the 2004 Revisor's Bill, which makes technical revisions to state statutes.
SB 194, sponsored by Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens, allows delivery of up to 72 oz. of beer or up to two bottles of distilled spirits in a gift basket with a floral arrangement to a cruise ship passenger or hotel guest. This changes current law, which only authorizes deliver of wine and champagne, to include beer and distilled spirits.
SB 285, sponsored by Wasilla Senator Lyda Green at the request of the Governor, provides the state with the best option available for sustaining or expanding family preservation services. That option is "Targeted Case Management". "Adding Targeted Case Management as an option will expand Medicaid options to fund family preservation services for children subjected to abuse or neglect, or at risk of abuse or neglect," Murkowski said. The bill also makes corrections to current statutes so that school districts can offer rehabilitative services to students and receive Medicaid reimbursement for those services.
SB 338 allows the state to substitute as a defendant in a civil lawsuit for the individual state employee when that employee is sued for an act that occurred in the course and scope of his or her employment. This procedure is the same as that used under the Federal Tort Claims Act for federal employees. This change will eliminate the unnecessary complication and cost that results from having employees named as defendants.
SB 392 exempts state agencies from having to reimburse the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) for commission costs in a proceeding to which the state is a party. The bill will help eliminate the need for the Department of Law to request supplemental funds to continue their charge as the public advocate in RCA proceedings.
SB 376, sponsored by the Senate Health, Education, and Social Services Committee, provides specific subpoena powers to the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Revenue to help combat recipient welfare fraud and fraudulent applications for Permanent Fund dividends.
SB 357, sponsored by Senate Labor and Commerce Committee at the request of the Governor, contains numerous changes to Title 21 to conform state statutes to federal law and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) model acts, and to update Alaska's insurance laws. "Keeping laws that affect business in Alaska updated is important to the general business environment in Alaska," Murkowski said.
SB 340 prohibits emergency protective custody of a juvenile who is high on drugs or alcohol, or has mental health issues, in an adult jail or secure facility. "This change is necessary to comply with the Federal Juvenile Justice Act and maintain our $700,000 grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to the Department of Health and Social Services," Murkowski said.
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