SB 261: "An Act relating to the release of employment security records; relating to an injunction or an employer's security for delinquent unemployment insurance contributions; extending time periods for redeterminations and appeals for unemployment insurance; relating to the overpayment or the redetermination of unemployment insurance benefits; relating to availability for work, seeking work, and the calculation of wages for unemployment insurance purposes; relating to voluntary federal tax withholding from unemployment insurance benefits; relating to the binding effect of unemployment compensation decisions; relating to the definition of `waiting week' for employment security purposes; and providing for an effective date."
00SENATE BILL NO. 261 01 "An Act relating to the release of employment security records; relating to an 02 injunction or an employer's security for delinquent unemployment insurance 03 contributions; extending time periods for redeterminations and appeals for 04 unemployment insurance; relating to the overpayment or the redetermination of 05 unemployment insurance benefits; relating to availability for work, seeking work, 06 and the calculation of wages for unemployment insurance purposes; relating to 07 voluntary federal tax withholding from unemployment insurance benefits; relating 08 to the binding effect of unemployment compensation decisions; relating to the 09 definition of `waiting week' for employment security purposes; and providing for 10 an effective date." 11 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 12 * Section 1. AS 23.20.110(a) is amended to read: 13 (a) Except as provided in (h) and (i) of this section, the department shall hold 14 information obtained from an employing unit or individual in the course of
01 administering this chapter and determinations as to the benefit rights of an individual 02 confidential and may not disclose them or open them to public inspection in a manner 03 that [WHICH] reveals the identity of the individual or employing unit. A claimant 04 or an employing unit, or the legal representative of the claimant or the employing 05 unit, is entitled to information from the records of the department to the extent 06 necessary to properly present or protest a claim or determination [FOR THE 07 PROPER PRESENTATION OF THE CLAIM IN A PROCEEDING] under this 08 chapter. Subject to restrictions that [WHICH] the department prescribes by regulation, 09 the information may be made available to an agency of this state or another state or 10 federal agency charged with the administration of an unemployment compensation law 11 or the maintenance of a system of public employment offices, or, for the purposes of 12 the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, to the Internal Revenue Service of the United 13 States, or, for tax purposes, to the Department of Revenue. Information obtained in 14 the course of administering this chapter or in connection with the administration of 15 the employment service may be made available to persons or agencies for purposes 16 appropriate to the operation of a public employment service or the administration of 17 employment and training programs planned or coordinated by the Alaska Human 18 Resource Investment Council under AS 44.19.620 - 44.19.627. 19 * Sec. 2. AS 23.20.110(d) is amended to read: 20 (d) The department may require that an agency or authorized person to which 21 it provides information under this section reimburse the department for its costs of 22 furnishing that information. 23 * Sec. 3. AS 23.20.110 is amended by adding new subsections to read: 24 (l) The department may provide information obtained under this chapter to an 25 agency of this state or to a person under contract with the state to 26 (1) verify the eligibility of an applicant for a public benefit or a 27 publicly financed payment; 28 (2) assist the state in the collection of fines, penalties, or other 29 payments ordered by a court or an administrative agency; or 30 (3) collect money owed to the fund under this chapter. 31 (m) The department may not release information under this section to a state
01 agency or to a person under contract with the state until the department and the agency 02 or person have entered into a written agreement that governs the release of 03 information. The written agreement must specify 04 (1) the purpose for the information; 05 (2) a description of the information to be provided; 06 (3) a description of the procedure for transmitting, securing, using, and 07 disposing of the information; and 08 (4) the method of reimbursement, if any, for the cost of providing the 09 information. 10 (n) The department may produce statistical and other public reports based on 11 information obtained in the course of administering this chapter, so long as the reports 12 do not reveal wage and payroll data for an employing unit or the name or number 13 identifying an individual. The reports may include the firm name, address, standard 14 industrial classification code, census area code, number of workers employed, and 15 occupational staffing patterns for an employing unit. 16 * Sec. 4. AS 23.20 is amended by adding new sections to read: 17 Sec. 23.20.247. EMPLOYER'S SECURITY FOR DELINQUENT 18 CONTRIBUTIONS. (a) If the department determines that an employer has been 19 delinquent in paying contributions owed to the fund for two or more calendar quarters, 20 the department may require an employer to deposit and keep on deposit with the 21 department a sum equal to the contributions payable to the fund for the four completed 22 calendar quarters immediately preceding the delinquency. If the employer does not 23 have four completed payroll quarters immediately before the delinquency, the 24 department shall estimate the employer's annual contributions, based on contributions 25 payable for the completed payroll quarters. In lieu of the deposit, the department may 26 accept a bond or other security equal in value to the required deposit. The deposit, 27 bond, or other security accepted by the department does not relieve the employer from 28 making contributions to the fund or paying delinquent contributions, interest, and 29 penalties as provided in this chapter. After notice and opportunity for hearing related 30 to the application of the security, the department may immediately apply all or part of 31 the deposit, bond, or other approved security to the employer's delinquent
01 contributions, interest, or penalties arising under this chapter. 02 (b) Unless precluded by other law, the deposit, bond, or other security accepted 03 by the department shall take priority over all other liens, claims, or encumbrances and 04 shall be exempt from any process, attachment, garnishment, or execution. 05 (c) If an employer ceases to be an employer subject to this chapter, the 06 department shall, upon receipt of all payments due the fund, refund to the employer 07 the deposits remaining to the employer's credit and shall cancel any bond or other 08 security accepted by the department under this section. The department may return, 09 in whole or part, the deposit, bond, or other security accepted by the department under 10 this section to the employer if the employer is current in paying contributions under 11 this section for eight consecutive quarters. 12 Sec. 23.20.248. INJUNCTIVE RELIEF. (a) If an employer does not deposit 13 and keep on deposit the security required by the department under AS 23.20.247, the 14 department, through the attorney general, may bring an action in superior court to 15 enjoin the employer from operating any business as an employer within the state until 16 (1) the employer is current on all final assessments, including interest 17 and penalties made under this chapter; and 18 (2) if requested, the employer deposits and keeps on deposit the 19 security described in AS 23.20.247 to protect against future failures and to comply 20 with this chapter. 21 (b) The department may not seek injunctive relief under (a) of this section 22 until the department has given the employer at least 30 days to comply with an order 23 relating to security under AS 23.20.247. 24 (c) The department may not be required to post a bond for injunctive relief 25 under this section. 26 * Sec. 5. AS 23.20.265 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: 27 (c) Upon request, the department may notify an employing unit of its 28 contractor's or subcontractor's liability for contributions, interest, and penalties under 29 this chapter to allow the employing unit to comply with this section. 30 * Sec. 6. AS 23.20.277(h) is amended to read: 31 (h) The amount due, specified in a bill from the department, is conclusive on
01 the organization unless, not later than 30  days after the bill was mailed to its last 02 address of record or otherwise delivered to it, the organization files an application for 03 redetermination by the department, setting out the grounds for the application. The 04 department shall promptly review and reconsider [THE AMOUNT DUE SPECIFIED 05 IN] the bill and shall thereafter issue a redetermination in any case in which an 06 application for redetermination has been filed. Any redetermination is conclusive on 07 the organization unless, not later than 30  days after the redetermination was 08 mailed to its last address of record or otherwise delivered to it, the organization files 09 an appeal to the commissioner, setting out the grounds for the appeal. Proceedings on 10 appeal to the commissioner from the amount of a bill rendered under this subsection 11 or a redetermination of the amount shall be in accordance with [THE PROVISIONS 12 OF] AS 23.20.410 - 23.20.470. 13 * Sec. 7. AS 23.20.305(a) is amended to read: 14 (a) The department shall promptly notify each employer of the rate of 15 contributions for the employer as determined for a calendar year under AS 23.20.280 - 16 23.20.310. The determination becomes conclusive upon the employer unless within 17 30  days after the notice is mailed to the employer's last address of record or 18 delivered to the employer, the employer files an application for review and 19 redetermination, setting out the reasons for the application. 20 * Sec. 8. AS 23.20.315(d) is amended to read: 21 (d) Within 30  days after a notice of a determination has been mailed or 22 delivered to the last address of record of an employing unit, the employing unit may 23 apply to the department to reconsider its determination in the light of additional 24 evidence and to issue a redetermination. The department shall, if the request is 25 granted, mail or deliver to the last address of record of the employing unit affected a 26 notice of the redetermination. The notice must include a statement of the supporting 27 facts found by the department. If the department denies the request for 28 redetermination, it shall furnish a notice of the denial of the application. 29 * Sec. 9. AS 23.20.315(e) is amended to read: 30 (e) Within 30  days after a notice of a determination made under (a), (b), 31 or (d) of this section or a denial of the application under (d) of this section has been
01 mailed or delivered to the last address of record of an employing unit, the employing 02 unit may appeal from the determination to the department. The department shall give 03 the parties a reasonable opportunity for a fair hearing as provided in the case of 04 hearings before appeal tribunals in AS 23.20.410 - 23.20.470. The decision of the 05 department is final unless, within 30 days after the decision is mailed or delivered to 06 the last address of record of a party, the party initiates judicial review in accordance 07 with AS 23.20.445. 08 * Sec. 10. AS 23.20.340(b) is amended to read: 09 (b) Within one year from the date of the initial determination of the weekly 10 benefit amount and the maximum potential benefit amount established under 11 AS 23.20.350, the department shall reconsider [ONLY] the determination or any 12 subsequent determination under this chapter [OF THE MONETARY AMOUNTS] 13 and shall issue a redetermination amending the [INITIAL] determination if the 14 department [IT] finds that 15 (1) [THAT] an error in computation or identity has been made; 16 (2) [OR THAT] additional wages or other facts pertinent to the 17 claimant's insured status or eligibility for benefits have become available; 18 (3) [, OR THAT] the [INITIAL] determination resulted from a 19 nondisclosure or misrepresentation of a material fact; or 20 (4) the determination resulted from a misapplication of law by the 21 department [CONCERNING THE DETERMINATION OF MONETARY 22 AMOUNTS]. 23 * Sec. 11. AS 23.20.340(e) is amended to read: 24 (e) The claimant may file an appeal from an initial determination or a 25 redetermination under (b) of this section not later than 30  days after the claimant 26 is notified in person of the determination or redetermination or not later than 30  27 days after the date the determination or redetermination is mailed to the claimant's last 28 address of record. The period for filing an appeal may be extended for a reasonable 29 period if the claimant shows that the application was delayed as a result of 30 circumstances beyond the claimant's control. 31 * Sec. 12. AS 23.20.378(a) is amended to read:
01 (a) An insured worker is entitled to receive waiting-week credit or benefits for 02 a week of unemployment if for that week the insured worker is able to work and 03 available for suitable work. An insured worker is not considered available for work 04 unless registered for work in accordance with regulations adopted by the department. 05 An insured worker may not be disqualified for failure to comply with this subsection 06 if 07 (1) the insured worker is not available for work because the insured 08 worker 09 (A) [THE INSURED WORKER] is ill or disabled; 10 (B) [THE INSURED WORKER] is traveling to obtain medical 11 services that are not available in the area in which the insured worker resides, 12 or, if a physician determines it is necessary, the insured worker is 13 accompanying a spouse or dependent who is traveling to obtain medical 14 services; 15 (C) [THE INSURED WORKER] resides in the state and is 16 noncommercially hunting or fishing for personal survival or the survival of 17 dependents; [OR] 18 (D) [THE INSURED WORKER] is serving as a prospective or 19 impaneled juror in a court; or 20 (E) is attending the funeral of an immediate family member 21 for a period of no longer than seven days; and 22 (2) a condition described in (1) [(1)(A) - (C)] of this subsection occurs 23 during an uninterrupted period of unemployment immediately following a week for 24 which the insured worker has filed a compensable claim, and work has not been 25 offered that would have been suitable for the insured worker before the illness, 26 disability, hunting, fishing, [OR] medical travel, jury service, or funeral attendance. 27 * Sec. 13. AS 23.20.390(b) is amended to read: 28 (b) The department shall promptly prepare and deliver or mail to the individual 29 at the individual's last address of record a notice of determination of liability declaring 30 that the individual has been determined liable to refund the amount of benefits to 31 which the individual is not entitled. The amount, if not previously collected, shall be
01 deducted from future benefits payable to the individual. However, the department 02 may absolve liability to the fund for repayment of all or a portion of those 03 benefits if the department determines that an individual has died [,] or has acted in 04 good faith in claiming and receiving benefits to which the individual was not entitled 05 and recovery of those benefits would be against equity and good conscience [THAT 06 GREAT HARDSHIP WOULD RESULT FROM CHARGING THE INDIVIDUAL 07 WITH REPAYMENT OF THE BENEFITS, THE DEPARTMENT MAY ABSOLVE 08 THE INDIVIDUAL FROM LIABILITY TO THE FUND FOR REPAYMENT OF 09 ALL OR A PORTION OF THOSE BENEFITS]. 10 * Sec. 14. AS 23.20.390(d) is amended to read: 11 (d) If paid-out benefit sums have neither been repaid by the recipient nor 12 deducted from benefits payable to the recipient within two [SIX] years following the 13 last day of the year in which payment was made, the commissioner may declare the 14 sums uncollectible and cancel both the resulting shortage and related records. 15 * Sec. 15. AS 23.20.390(e) is amended to read: 16 (e) An appeal from the determination of liability under this section may be 17 made in the same manner and to the same extent as provided by AS 23.20.340 and 18 23.20.410 - 23.20.470 for an appeal relating to a determination in respect to a claim 19 for benefits. If no appeal is taken to the appeal tribunal by the individual within 30 20  days of the delivery of the notice of determination of liability, or within 30  21 days of the mailing of the notice of determination, whichever is earlier, the 22 determination of liability is final and the court shall, upon application of the 23 department, enter a judgment in the amount provided by the notice of determination. 24 The judgment has the same effect as a judgment entered in a civil action. 25 * Sec. 16. AS 23.20 is amended by adding a new section to read: 26 Sec. 23.20.403. VOLUNTARY INCOME TAX WITHHOLDING. (a) When 27 an individual files a new claim for unemployment compensation, the department shall 28 advise the individual that 29 (1) unemployment compensation benefits are subject to federal income 30 tax; 31 (2) federal requirements exist pertaining to estimated federal tax
01 payments; 02 (3) the individual may elect to have federal income tax deducted and 03 withheld from the individual's payment of unemployment compensation benefits at the 04 amount specified in 26 U.S.C. (Internal Revenue Code); and 05 (4) the individual is permitted to change a previously elected status for 06 the withholding of federal income tax. 07 (b) Amounts deducted for federal income taxes and withheld from 08 unemployment compensation benefits shall remain in the unemployment fund until 09 transferred to the federal Internal Revenue Service as payment of federal income tax. 10 (c) The department shall comply with legal requirements of the federal 11 Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service regarding the deduction and 12 withholding of federal income tax. 13 * Sec. 17. AS 23.20.406(c) is amended to read: 14 (c) Notwithstanding (a) and (b) of this section, an individual is ineligible for 15 payment of extended benefits for any week of unemployment in the individual's 16 eligibility period if the department finds that during that period the individual failed 17 to 18 (1) [FAILED TO] accept an offer of suitable work as defined under (k) 19 of this section or failed to apply for suitable work to which the individual was referred 20 by the department; or 21 (2) [FAILED TO] actively seek work as prescribed under (f) of this 22 section, except that the eligibility of the individual will be determined under 23 AS 23.20.378 without regard to the disqualification provisions otherwise applicable 24 under (d) of this section if the individual is not actively engaged in seeking work 25 because the individual is 26 (A) summoned for jury duty before a court of the United States 27 or any state; [OR] 28 (B) hospitalized for treatment of an emergency or life- 29 threatening condition; or 30 (C) attending an approved vocational training course under 31 AS 23.20.382.
01 * Sec. 18. AS 23.20.430 is amended to read: 02 Sec. 23.20.430. NOTICE OF DECISION AND TIME FOR APPEAL. After 03 a hearing an appeal tribunal shall promptly make findings and conclusions and on the 04 basis of them shall affirm, modify, or reverse the determination. Each party shall be 05 promptly given a copy of the decision, the supporting findings and the conclusions. 06 This decision is final unless further review is initiated under AS 23.20.435 within 30 07  days after the decision is mailed to each party at the party's last address of record 08 or delivered to the party. The period within which further review may be initiated 09 may be extended for a reasonable period of time upon a showing that the application 10 was delayed as a result of circumstances beyond the party's control. 11 * Sec. 19. AS 23.20.435(b) is amended to read: 12 (b) The department on its own motion may initiate a review of a decision or 13 determination of an appeal tribunal within 30  days after the date of the decision. 14 The department may affirm, modify, or reverse the findings or conclusions of the 15 appeal tribunal solely on the basis of evidence previously submitted, or upon the basis 16 of additional evidence that [WHICH] it may take or direct to be taken. 17 * Sec. 20. AS 23.20.455(a) is amended to read: 18 (a) Final decisions of the department and the principles of law declared in their 19 support are binding in all subsequent proceedings under this chapter involving similar 20 questions unless expressly or impliedly overruled by a later decision of the department 21 or of a court. Final decisions of appeal tribunals and the principles of law declared 22 in their support are binding on the employees and representatives of the department 23 and are persuasive authority in subsequent appeal tribunal proceedings. 24 * Sec. 21. AS 23.20 is amended by adding a new section to read: 25 Sec. 23.20.497. BINDING EFFECT OF DEPARTMENT DECISIONS. A 26 finding of fact or law, judgment, conclusion, or final order made with respect to a 27 claim for unemployment compensation under this chapter is not conclusive or binding 28 in any separate or subsequent action or proceeding in another forum concerning 29 proceedings not under this chapter, regardless of whether the prior action was between 30 the same or related parties or involved the same facts. 31 * Sec. 22. AS 23.20.520(20) is amended to read:
01 (20) "waiting week" means the first week of unemployment for which 02 an individual files a claim during the individual's benefit year and for which no 03 disqualification is imposed under AS 23.20.360, 23.20.362, 23.20.375, and 23.20.378 - 04 23.20.387 [AS 23.20.378 - 23.20.387]; 05 * Sec. 23. AS 23.20.530(b) is amended by adding a new paragraph to read: 06 (12) the amount of a payment made to or on behalf of an employee or 07 the employee's beneficiary under a cafeteria plan as defined in 26 U.S.C. 125, if the 08 payment would not be treated as wages under this section without regard to the 09 cafeteria plan. 10 * Sec. 24. This Act takes effect July 1, 1996.