Teamsters Local 959 Legislative Update February 14, 2014
From Barbara Huff Tuckness-Director Legislative & Government Affairs
MINIMUM WAGE PETITION - The petition was turned in on January 17th with more than 43,000 signatures. Alaska’s minimum wage is currently at $7.75, well below poverty level. The last time Alaska seen an increase was in 2009, when it was raised to fifty cents. For over 40 years Alaska had the highest minimum wage in the country. We are now 17th in the national standing. The petition will increase the minimum wage to $8.75 January 1, 2015, with an increase to $9.75 January, 2016. All subsequent increases will be tied to CPI. We look forward to this being on the Primary Ballot in August 2014.
JUNEAU - The legislators have been working on several major pieces of legislation since session started January 21st. Those bills include HB 277/SB 138 the Governor’s proposed gas line bills and HB 278/SB 139 the Governor’s comprehensive education package.
GAS PIPELINE - House Resources, Senate Finance and Senate Resources have been holding meetings throughout the last couple of weeks regarding HB 277/SB 138 gas pipeline legislation. Those of you that have lived in Alaska for the last 30 years can recall the many “pipeline deals”, unfortunately they never played out. The Governor’s bill(s) propose a two stage process, with “exit ramps”. The first step is passing one of the bills, likely to be SB 138. This will void AGIA, the pipeline to be built from the North Slope to Midwest markets. The bill(s) also allow the administration to negotiate agreements with TransCanada, the producers, AGDC. The committees have had consultants walk through various fiscal options, including level of state participation/ownership. Last week BP, Conoco & Exxon testified to their support of moving the project forward. State participation and most likely fiscal certainty will be important parts of the project. This week, Senate Resources has scheduled public testimony starting at 5:30 p.m., February 19th. Testimony is limited to two minutes and we encourage all of our members to come forward supporting a pipeline project. Also this week House Labor & Commerce will be hearing an overview of the Memorandum of Understanding and the Heads of Agreement, February 19th at 3:15 p.m. and again on February 21, at 3:15 p.m. Senate Resources will be meeting at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday and Friday as well as afternoons as they continue to hear various aspects of this bill.
EDUCATION - House Education committee continues with hearings on HB 266, with a focus February 14th on Technical Vocational Education Program. In the Governor’s bill there are performance criteria which have not been placed on those entities receiving state dollars. The bill also allows credits for high school and college for students participating in Technical/Vocational classes. On Monday, February 17, 2014, House Education discussed at length the tax credit sections of the bill. This allows Corporations to make contributions to educational institutions and receive a tax credit.
House Labor & Commerce has hearings scheduled February 19th and February 21st at 3:15 p.m. regarding the Memorandum of Understanding and Heads of Agreement-Gas Pipeline.
REGULATION CHANGES – The Department of Health and Social Services should have out in March a proposed regulation change that will no longer require Health Care Workers to be fingerprinted every six (6) years. This was an issue brought to our attention last year by Maria Soto (Chief Steward-South Peninsula Hospital). We had a discussion with Commissioner Streur who after looking at the particular regulation agreed it should be changed. Thanks Maria.
The Department of Education also has proposed regulation changes. They will be reviewed/approved by the Board of Education in March. We are currently working to get a requirement in the pupil transportation RFP contract that provides Bus Drivers a fair hearing process/just cause for disciplinary action.
JUNEAU LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE - February 6th & 7th- Our Teamster Team included Rick Boyles, Eileen Whitmer, Jeremy Holan, Tim Morgan, Dale Miller, Joe Rintala & Barbara Huff Tuckness. The guest speakers included the Commissioner of Labor & Workforce Development, Mike Monagle, Director Workers Compensation, Senator Dunleavy, Chair Senate Labor & Commerce, Commissioner Balash, Department of Natural Resources, Senator Hollis French & Representative Chris Tuck to name a few. In the afternoon(s) your Team met with over thirty (30) of the House/Senate legislators. Rick Boyles was also able to meet with the Governor while he was in town. The Team talked about Gas pipeline, pupil transportation, jobs and training, as well as opposition to vouchers, specifically changing our constitution. It was good to have our Teamster Team in town.
ANCHORAGE - AO-37 Anti-worker ordinance, the referendum vote to repeal AO-37 will not be November 4th 2014, the same date as the statewide General Election. This move was just another example of the arrogance of the Assembly Sullivan supporters, ironically, they did not move their own elections. They are hoping we forget. We must continue to keep this in the forefront of our minds. A thank you to all our members, private and public who have worked so hard to get this ordinance turned around.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me at (907) 227‑4572 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also go online to track bills of interest at www.legis.state.ak.us.