Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/27/1996 01:38 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  SENATE BILL NO. 6                                                            
       "An Act relating to registration of a motor vehicle and                 
       suspension of a driver's license  for failure to appear                 
       in court or failure to pay a fine."                                     
  SENATOR ROBIN TAYLOR, sponsor SB 6, testified in support  of                 
  the HCS  CSSB 6  (CRA).   He noted  that the  intent of  the                 
  legislation is to  encourage individuals to pay  some of the                 
  25,000  traffic   fines  for   moving  violations   that  go                 
  uncollected each year.   He noted that HCS CSSB 6  (CRA) was                 
  designed to provide additional leverage  to the Alaska Court                 
  System in the  collection of fines.  It  would also apply to                 
  an individual who fails  to appear in court.   He maintained                 
  that HCS CSSB  6 (CRA) would be  a valuable tool for  use by                 
  the courts in  addressing the problems created  by those who                 
  choose to ignore the law, especially  those who fail to make                 
  court ordered  appearances or to  pay fines  imposed by  the                 
  court.  He explained that the  legislation was based on laws                 
  of  other  states.    He  observed  that  in  the  state  of                 
  Washington over  50 percent of  those who receive  notice of                 
  possible sanctions  clear up outstanding matters  within one                 
  week.  He  noted that HCS CSSB  6 (CRA) allows the  court to                 
  suspend the driver's license  of anyone who fails to  make a                 
  court appearance  or pay a  fine.  The  legislation provides                 
  that   an  offender's  permanent   fund  dividend  could  be                 
  attached.  He asserted  that HCS CSSB 6 (CRA)  will generate                 
  revenue,  through the  collection  of outstanding  fines and                 
  reinstatement  fees  collected  by  the  Division  of  Motor                 
  Vehicles.  He stressed that the legislation does not involve                 
  parking violations.                                                          
  Representative Brown  observed that the  accompanying fiscal                 
  notes showed a net cost to  the legislation.  Senator Taylor                 
  noted  that  the  Department  of  Law's fiscal  note,  dated                 
  2/23/96 was based on the assumption that requirements of the                 
  bill  could  result in  a  jury  trial  and court  appointed                 
  counsel.  He  noted that the Department is anticipating that                 
  the Court's ruling  in Baker versus City  of Fairbanks would                 
  apply.  He disagreed with  the Department's assessment.   He                 
  did not feel that the $657.5 thousand dollar Court  System's                 
  fiscal note was justified.                                                   
  Representative Mulder referred  to a letter by  the National                 
  Motorist  Association.    He  summarized   that  the  letter                 
  concludes  that  the  legislation will  raise  a  $15 dollar                 
  ticket to the level of a suspended license charge.  He asked                 
  if  Senator  Taylor agreed  with  that conclusion.   Senator                 
  Taylor did not agree with  their conclusion.  He  emphasized                 
  that the legislation will provide motivation to pay fines.                   
  Co-Chair Hanley  pointed out  that the  fiscal notes  by the                 
  Department of Public Safety have not changed.  He noted that                 
  the  Department   of  Law's  new   interpretation  regarding                 
  mandatory  jury  trials is  the  basis for  increased fiscal                 
  notes by the Alaska Court System  and the Departments of Law                 
  and Administration.                                                          
  LAW explained  that the Department's fiscal note is based on                 
  the concern that the  Court will rule that the  Baker versus                 
  City of Fairbanks ruling will apply to the legislation.  The                 
  Baker  case ruled  that a  jury trial  and  subsequent court                 
  appointed counsel is  required due to the  revocation of the                 
  driver's  license.    She  noted   that  the  Department  is                 
  contesting the Court's ruling.   She withdrew the Department                 
  of Law's fiscal note (copy on file).                                         
  that in his  opinion HCS CSSB  6 (CRA) will not  trigger the                 
  requirement  for  a jury  trial.   He  noted that  if enough                 
  speeding tickets are acquired a  person's license is revoked                 
  under a point system.  He stressed that because a license is                 
  lost under a point system does not give rise to the right of                 
  a jury trial for each ticket.   He observed that if a person                 
  fails to  pay a  fine or  appear in  court that  there is  a                 
  collateral  affect  which may  result  in suspension  of the                 
  license.  He acknowledged that the Court could rule that the                 
  right to  a jury  trial pertains,  but he  did not  think it                 
  would do so.                                                                 
  Senator Taylor referred to "use it and loose it" legislation                 
  passed in 1995.   The  Alaska Supreme Court  ruled in  Baker                 
  versus City of Fairbanks,  471 P. 2d 386 (Alaska  1970) that                 
  the revocation of  a license  as a penalty  stemming from  a                 
  criminal offense  requires a  jury trial  on the  underlying                 
  offense.  He noted  that the Department of Law  is appealing                 
  the  Court's ruling.  Ms. Carpeneti  agreed that the Court's                 
  ruling is being appealed.                                                    
  Co-Chair  Hanley  noted  that  the  Department  of  Law  has                 
  withdrawn their fiscal note.                                                 
  that the Alaska Court System  would revise their fiscal note                 
  to reflect the withdrawal of the  Department of Law's fiscal                 
  note.  He explained that they would reinstate their original                 
  fiscal note for $7.2 thousand dollars.                                       
  Co-Chair    Hanley   noted    that    the   Department    of                 
  Administration's fiscal note from the Public Defender Agency                 
  was also based  on assumptions  that a jury  trial would  be                 
  required.   Representative Mulder  stated that  it would  be                 
  consistent  to  revise  the Department  of  Administration's                 
  fiscal note to their original position.                                      
  Representative Brown referred  to language  on page 2,  line                 
  31.  Ms.  Carpeneti explained  that the intent  is that  the                 
  suspension for  failure to  appear would  be terminated  and                 
  upon a  finding  of guilt  for  the underlying  offense  the                 
  license be again suspended.                                                  
  Mr.  Ford  pointed   out  that  the  provision   relates  to                 
  suspension under the subsection.  The provision only applies                 
  if the offender was suspended for  not appearing in court or                 
  not paying the fine.                                                         
  Representative  Mulder  questioned  if   Legislative  Intent                 
  should be  added to  indicate that  the  legislation is  not                 
  intended to entitle offenders to a jury trial.                               
  Mr. Ford  observed that the issue of  jury trial is a matter                 
  of  constitutional interpretation.  He did not think that an                 
  expression of  intent by  the Legislature  would affect  the                 
  Court's interpretation.                                                      
  SENATOR DAVE DONLEY requested that  the Committee return HCS                 
  CSSB 6  (CRA) to  the version that  passed the  Senate.   He                 
  noted  that  the  legislation  was   amended  in  the  House                 
  Community  and  Regional  Affairs  Committee.   He  provided                 
  members  with an  amendment  that would  restore HCS  CSSB 6                 
  (CRA)  to the version  passed by the  Senate (Attachment 1).                 
  He explained that HCS CS 6 (CRA) deleted a section  added on                 
  the floor  of the  Senate limited  the authority  of Parking                 
  Authorities.    He   noted  that   Anchorage  is  the   only                 
  municipality that  currently has  a parking  authority.   He                 
  provided  members   with   a   memorandum,   dated   2/27/96                 
  (Attachment  2).    He explained  that  the  amendment would                 
  require citations issued  by a municipality to  conform with                 
  the requirements  of AS 12.25.200.   He explained  that this                 
  would require that  basic information  would be provided  on                 
  any citation issued.   The amendment would also require that                 
  an appeals  process substantially  similar to  state law  be                 
  provided.    He  observed  that  Attachment 2  compares  the                 
  Anchorage Parking Authority's appeals  process to state law.                 
  He stressed that  under the Anchorage Parking  Authority the                 
  fine must  be paid before  the appeal process  is completed.                 
  Under  the  state process  the fine  is suspended  until the                 
  appeal is  completed.  He  added that the  legislation would                 
  limit  the   authority  of   parking  authorities  to   hire                 
  individuals that are not peace  officers to issue citations.                 
  Individuals that  are not  peace officers  could only  issue                 
  fines for  one half  of the  fine structure  adopted by  the                 
  Supreme  Court.   Peace officers could  issue fines  for the                 
  full amount.   He maintained that individuals hired to issue                 
  citations would not  have the  same level of  training as  a                 
  peace officer.  He asserted that  these employees would have                 
  a conflict of interest since their salaries are derived from                 
  writing citations.   He  alleged that  these employees  must                 
  meet a quota.   He observed  that a person's permanent  fund                 
  dividend  or  license could  be  taken based  upon citations                 
  issued by the Anchorage Parking Authority.  He stressed that                 
  procedural protections need to be in place.                                  
  Co-Chair Hanley asked if Senator  Donley could cite examples                 
  of  ticketing  abuse  by  the  Authority.    Senator  Donley                 
  stressed that  he has  received accounts  that seem to  have                 
  inherent unfairness involved.  He  observed that an employee                 
  of the  Anchorage Parking  Authority decides  if a  person's                 
  objection is valid.  He maintained that there is an inherent                 
  conflict  of  interest  in allowing  the  Anchorage  Parking                 
  Authority to establish their own appeals process.                            
  In response to a question by Co-Chair Hanley, Senator Donley                 
  noted  that a person can  appeal to the  Superior Court.  He                 
  pointed out that a  person must pay a $100.0  hundred dollar                 
  non-refundable fee  to appeal  a citation  by the  Anchorage                 
  Parking Authority before the Superior Court.   He added that                 
  a $750.0 dollar bond is also required.                                       
  Senator Taylor maintained that  problems with the  Anchorage                 
  Parking  Authority  should be  taken  up with  the Anchorage                 
  Assembly.  He stressed  that HCS CSSB 6 (CRA)  only involves                 
  moving traffic violations.  He spoke  in support of HCS CSSB                 
  6 (CRA).                                                                     
  Senator Donley suggested that the restriction on fine levels                 
  could be removed and the other provisions maintained.                        
  DAVE  HARBOUR, ANCHORAGE  PARKING ANCHORAGE  (APA) testified                 
  via the teleconference  network.   He maintained that  APA's                 
  appeal process  is user friendly.   He  asserted that  APA's                 
  appeal proceedings are in compliance with the Administrative                 
  Procedures  Act  and  the  Anchorage  Municipal  Code.    He                 
  observed  that APA  operates  a toll  free  phone number  to                 
  answer  questions  about  citations  and  appeals  and  that                 
  appeals can be deliver by fax or  mail.  He stressed that on                 
  request hearing officers provide hearing opportunities after                 
  hours and on weekends.  He asserted that no fee of  any kind                 
  is charged for  an appeal.  He  noted that the deadline  for                 
  filing  an appeal  was  increased from  7  to 30  days.   No                 
  payment penalty is assessed until 30 days after the issuance                 
  of a written  decision from the  hearing officer.  He  noted                 
  that APA  supports requests  for waivers  of Superior  Court                 
  bond requirements.  He  stressed that HCS CSSB 6  (CRA) will                 
  not effect APA's authority.                                                  
  Mr. Harbour  referred to Attachment  2.  He  maintained that                 
  the appeal process meets all the  tests imposed by the State                 
  or municipality.   He maintained  that APA has  responded to                 
  requirements  pertaining  to  information contained  on  the                 
  citations issued by APA. He stressed that "if a  ticket is a                 
  bad  ticket  it  should  not  be  issued by  anybody."    He                 
  maintained that APA  tickets are  not inferior just  because                 
  employees  wear  a  different  uniform.   He  stressed  that                 
  traffic offenses are not  parking offenses.  He stated  that                 
  quotas are not  given to APA  officers.  He maintained  that                 
  APA officers do not receive bonuses based on tickets issued.                 
  He noted  that the  Port of  Anchorage, Anchorage  Telephone                 
  Utility, Municipality of Anchorage's security office,  State                 
  Troopers,   Anchorage  Police Department  and the  Anchorage                 
  International  Security  Office have  employees  trained and                 
  certified by APA to issue tickets.                                           
  Mr. Harbour objected to language  contained in Attachment 2.                 
  He maintained that APA would be subject to a legal challenge                 
  if it abused its authority.                                                  
  Representative Brown questioned if APA  has the authority to                 
  forward fines to a collection agency while  citations are on                 
  appeal in Superior Court.  Mr.  Harbour stated that APA does                 
  not recommend that  citations be paid  while on appeal.   He                 
  maintained  that  fines  are suspended  during  appeal.   He                 
  agreed that APA has  the municipal authority to  refer fines                 
  to collection agencies.  He stated  that he has no knowledge                 
  of  any  case in  which  payment  was  not suspended  during                 
  appeal.  He stated that if a citation is not appealed within                 
  30  days  the  individual's right  to  appeal  is forfeited.                 
  After 30 days the individual is  given notice that they have                 
  another 30 days  to pay the  fine with an additional  $15.00                 
  dollar penalty.   If the fine and  penalty are not paid  the                 
  offender is given  a notice that non-payment  will result in                 
  the fine's referral to a collection agency.                                  
  Senator Donley clarified  that the information  contained in                 
  Attachment 2  was given to his  staff by an employee  of the                 
  Anchorage Parking Authority.                                                 
  testified via the teleconference network.   He spoke against                 
  the amendment prepared  by Senator Donley.   He stated  that                 
  the amendment may  infringe on  municipal jurisdiction.   He                 
  maintained that the requirement to  employ peace officers to                 
  issue  non-moving violations would  place a financial burden                 
  on the municipality  or result in  a lack of enforcement  of                 
  parking ordinances.                                                          
  BOB  ALLEN,  ANCHORAGE  testified  via  the   teleconference                 
  network.  He spoke  in support of the amendment  prepared by                 
  Senator  Donley.    He noted  that  the  Anchorage Ombudsman                 
  issued a report  that APA's appeal  process was unfair.   He                 
  acknowledged that the procedure in question was changed, but                 
  maintained that APA changed their procedures grudgingly.  He                 
  alleged that  APA's hearing  procedure would  not stand  the                 
  test of law.  He criticized APA's hearing procedure.                         
  DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC  SAFETY clarified  that the state  fine                 
  for  an  unregistered  vehicle is  $50.0  dollars.   Senator                 
  Donley noted  that the  fine schedule  is set  by the  State                 
  Supreme Court.  The amendment would limit APA to one half of                 
  the fine schedule.                                                           
  PUBLIC SAFETY explained  that municipalities are  allowed to                 
  set  their  own  bail  for  mail   in  forfeitures.    If  a                 
  Municipality of Anchorage peace office writes a citation for                 
  failure to have a front license  plate the municipal fine is                 
  $75 dollars.  If a state  trooper or APA official write  the                 
  same citation it is a $50 dollar fine.                                       
  (Tape Change, HFC 96-53, Side 2)                                             
  Representative  Mulder  acknowledged  that   problems  exist                 
  within the Anchorage  Parking Authority.  He  suggested that                 
  problems with APA be addressed through other legislation.                    
  Representative Kohring  agreed that  issues surrounding  APA                 
  should be addressed in separate legislation.                                 
  Representative Mulder  MOVED to report HCS CSSB  6 (CRA) out                 
  of  Committee with individual  recommendations and  with the                 
  accompanying  fiscal notes  from  the  Department of  Public                 
  Safety, Department of Corrections and Alaska Court  System's                 
  revised  fiscal note of $7.2 thousand  dollars.  There being                 
  NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                             
  HCS  CSSB 6 (CRA)  was reported out of  Committee with a "do                 
  pass" recommendation and with four  fiscal impact notes; two                 
  by the Department of Public Safety;  one by the Alaska Court                 
  System; and one by the Department of Corrections.                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects