Legislature(2003 - 2004)
2004-02-16 House JournalFull Journal pdf
2004-02-16 House Journal Page 2613 HB 490 HOUSE BILL NO. 490 by the House Rules Committee by request of the Governor, entitled: "An Act relating to the release of employment security records, to the admissibility of determinations and decisions regarding unemployment compensation benefits, and to contributions, interest, penalties, and payments under the Alaska Employment Security Act; providing that property under the Alaska Employment Security Act is not subject to the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act; and providing for an effective date." was read the first time and referred to the Labor & Commerce and Judiciary Committees. The following fiscal note(s) apply: 1. Zero, Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development The Governor's transmittal letter dated February 13, 2004, follows: "Dear Speaker Kott: Under the authority of article III, section 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am transmitting a bill relating to the: (1) the release of employment security records for law enforcement purposes; (2) administrative hearing decisions on unemployment benefits; and (3) federal compliance and other technical corrections to the Alaska Employment Security Act. This bill would allow the Department of Labor (DOL) to release employment security records to a state district attorney, a municipal attorney, a United States attorney, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for use in criminal investigations and prosecutions. Under current law, employment security records are confidential for criminal investigation and prosecution purposes. This bill would codify the Alaska Supreme Court's decision in Manning v. Alaska Railroad Corporation, 853 P.2d 1120 (Alaska 1993). In that case, the court held that the commissioner of DOL's 2004-02-16 House Journal Page 2614 decision granting the plaintiff unemployment benefits did not automatically require a finding of wrongful termination in a later court case. Unemployment claims rarely provide an incentive for the employer to participate, much less spend a significant amount of time and money investigating the facts and bringing those facts to the attention of the hearing officer. Employers have little incentive to participate in an unemployment benefits claim hearing since their bottom line is only marginally affected by the outcome. This gives an employee the opportunity to receive a favorable decision in an uncontested unemployment benefits claim and unfairly leverage that decision against the employer in a later court case. Finally, the bill makes a number of changes to bring Alaska law into compliance with federal law, resolves conflicts in Alaska statutes and makes other technical amendments. Other changes include provisions dealing with payment and collection of unemployment taxes by DOL from employers, expanding the ability of DOL to collect overpayments of unemployment compensation benefits on behalf of other states, clarifying which health professionals are excluded from the Alaska Employment Security Act, and clarifying that the definition of "wages" does not include education assistance. Of these, the principal change would remove the requirement that unemployment compensation be deposited into the unclaimed property fund. Federal law requires such funds to be deposited into the unemployment insurance trust fund. I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure. Sincerely yours, /s/ Frank H. Murkowski Governor"