Kenai city council shows support for HB 141

  • Thursday, February 6, 2014 9:10pm
  • News

The Kenai City Council voted to approve City Manager Rick Koch draft a letter, signed by mayor Pat Porter, in support of House Bill 141 regarding workers’ compensation medical fees.

The letter shows the city is in favor of three provisions made to the bill sponsored by the Legislature’s Labor and Commerce Committee, lead by Rep. Kurt Olson R-Soldotna.

The bill would require providers of workers compensation medical treatment to submit bills to employers within 180 days. It would also require health care providers to charge the workers’ compensation rates established in the state the work is provided.

Koch said reform is needed because Alaska’s workers’ compensation rate is the highest in the nation.

“On a number of occasions, Alaskans went outside for workers’ compensation issue and rates are substantially lower than here,” he said. “Because of the way the law is presently written, they are able to bill for Alaska rates even though it is billed someplace else.”

Koch said another provision is that if a provider’s billing is denied by an employer, an appeal can by filed to the workers’ compensation board within 60 days.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of the letter as long as mayor Porter signed it. Council members Mike Boyle and Robert Molloy voted against the letter.

Boyle said he felt the issue doesn’t involve the city directly and had a cause for concern that the bill is just another way of politicians taking money away from providers. Molloy said he would have liked time to hear from health care providers about the effect of the bill.

Council member Tim Navarre said he supports the bill because a lot of local businesses have workers’ compensation and the state should look at changing the billing.

The House Labor and Commerce committee will hold a hearing on Friday to discuss HB 141 in Juneau.

Three representatives from the City of Kenai will travel to Washington D.C. later this month to lobby for federal funding to address the city’s No. 1 priority for more than 20 years — bluff erosion.

At the Kenai City Council meeting Wednesday night, Porter, Koch and Navarre confirmed the trio has scheduled the trip for Feb. 24 to meet with congressional delegates and the undersecretary for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to push for the final project review prior to funding.

Koch said the city has already secured its 35 percent of the funding through a $2 million bond from Kenai voters and $10 million from State of Alaska appropriations, but has been waiting on 65 percent from the federal government to address the coastal erosion issue.

The Army Corps of Engineers has spent $5 million on an economic feasibility study and also conducted other studies to find an engineering solution to erosion along the mouth of the Kenai River, but the city has been waiting for a final authorization from the undersecretary for the past three years, Koch said.

Bluff erosion has been calculated at an average of 3 feet per year, he said.

“In the time this has been the city’s number one priority, at least 60 feet of that bluff is gone,” Koch said. “It is in an area of Old Town of historical and archeological significance land is being lost. Hopefully, we came make some positive inroads and come back with positive news. We just need to keep pushing.”

If the base of the slope can be stabilized, which studies have shown can be done, over time the bluff will stabilize, he said.

While the rest of the city council recognized the importance of the trip, council members Terry Bookey and Ryan Marquis questioned how the travel expenses will be handled and noted no policy has been in place for determining who should go and how it should be paid.

The council then came to an agreement to decide on a policy for council travel at a scheduled work session on March 4 at 7 p.m. The council also rescheduled the Personal Use Fishery work session to March 4 at 6 p.m. so Koch could attend.

Reach Dan Balmer at

More in News

Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Local candidates report support from state PACs

Labor unions and the National Education Association are among the groups putting money into Kenai Peninsula state election races

Signs and examples on the recycling super sack at the Cook Inletkeeper Community Action Studio show which plastics are desired as part of the project in Soldotna, Alaska, on Aug. 11, 2022. Plastics from types 1, 2, 4 and 5 can be deposited.(Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local nonprofit accepting plastics for synthetic lumber project

The super sack receptacles can be found on either side of Soldotna

This July 28, 2022, photo shows drag queen Dela Rosa performing in a mock election at Cafecito Bonito in Anchorage, Alaska, where people ranked the performances by drag performers. Several organizations are using different methods to teach Alaskans about ranked choice voting, which will be used in the upcoming special U.S. House election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Groups get creative to help Alaska voters with ranked voting

Organizations have gotten creative in trying to help voters understand how to cast their ballot, as the mock election featuring drag performers shows

A school bus outside of Kenai Central High School advertises driver positions on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Staff shortage, gas prices change school bus routes

The changes do not apply to the district’s special education students

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
The show goes on as Triumvirate seeks funding for new theater

The troupe has staged shows and events and is looking to debut a documentary as it raise funds for new playhouse

Aaron Surma, the executive director for National Alliance on Mental Illness Juneau and the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, leads a safety plan workshop Tuesday night hosted by NAMI and the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition. The workshop was a collaborative brainstorming session with Juneau residents about how to create a safety plan that people can use to help someone who is experiencing a mental health or suicide crisis. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Study shows a rise in anxiety and depression among children in Alaska

Increase may indicate growing openness to discussing mental health, according to experts

Alaska Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer addresses election information and misinformation during a press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. (Screenshot)
With a week to go, officials work to clear up election confusion

Officials provided updated ballot statistics, fielded questions from reporters and clarified misconceptions about the current election cycle

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 21 new COVID deaths; cases down from last week

20 of the reported deaths took place from May to July

A closeup of one of the marijuana plants at Greatland Ganja in Kasilof, Alaska, as seen on March 19, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly streamlines process for marijuana establishment license applications

License applications will now go straight to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly for consideration

Most Read