Legislature(2005 - 2006)

04/04/2005 02:55 PM FIN


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HOUSE BILL NO. 131                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     An Act  increasing the criminal classification  of theft                                                                   
     of an  access device and  of obtaining an  access device                                                                   
     or   identification  documents   by  fraudulent   means;                                                                   
     increasing  the  criminal   classification  for  certain                                                                   
     cases  of  fraudulent  use  of  an  access  device;  and                                                                   
     providing for an effective date.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 132                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     An  Act  relating  to  sentencing   for  certain  crimes                                                                   
     committed  against  the elderly;  and  providing for  an                                                                   
     effective date.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Meyer  stated  that HB  131  and  HB 132  would  be                                                                   
addressed together,  noting that they are  "nearly" companion                                                                   
bills.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BILL  STOLTZE, SPONSOR, indicated that he  has                                                                   
had  been a  long-standing interest  in concerns  and issues                                                                    
for  seniors.   The Administration  approached him  to  carry                                                                   
some senior citizen  protection legislation.  He deferred  to                                                                   
Mr. Ruaro and Mr. Milligan for the details of the bills.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:15:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
RANDY RUARO, LEGISLATIVE REVIEW SECTION, DEPARTMENT OF LAW,                                                                     
offered to answer questions of the Committee.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
BEN MULLIGAN, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE BILL STOLTZE, provided                                                                      
an overview of the legislation.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
He stated  that identity theft  is on the increase  in Alaska                                                                   
and our  country as  a whole.   The Federal Trade  Commission                                                                   
(FTC) reported that  identity theft was up 33% in  2003.  The                                                                   
State of Alaska ranks second in  the number of complaints per                                                                   
100,000  people.   That  type of  theft  averages about  $500                                                                   
dollars;  however, it  does not take  into consideration  the                                                                   
countless  hours  a  victim  may   spend  tracking  down  and                                                                   
stopping the  imposter, as  well as time  and legal  costs to                                                                   
repair  credit ratings  and fight  collection  efforts.   The                                                                   
proposed changes  would bring  the penalties for  such crimes                                                                   
closer in line with federal criminal  law that provide for as                                                                   
much as 15 years in prison for similar circumstances.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The provisions of HB 131:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     · Increase the penalty from a class A misdemeanor to a                                                                     
        class C felony for:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
          1. Theft of an access device, such as a credit                                                                        
             card or bank account number.                                                                                       
          2. The crime of fraudulent use of an access device                                                                    
             if the value of the property or services                                                                           
             obtained is $50 or more.                                                                                           
          3. The crime of obtaining an access device or                                                                         
             identification document by fraudulent means.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Mulligan continued that the  population of older citizens                                                                   
in Alaska is  growing rapidly, as are the crimes  that affect                                                                   
them.   The  physical,  emotional,  and financial  impact  of                                                                   
crimes against  the person  and theft  and related  crimes on                                                                   
the elderly  can be devastating.   HB 132 would  increase the                                                                   
penalty one  level for  certain crimes  against a person  and                                                                   
for theft and  related crimes, if the perpetrator  acted with                                                                   
reckless disregard that the victim was an older citizen.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
The provisions of HB 132:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     · Increase the penalties for crimes against the                                                                            
        elderly one  level.    For  example, assault  in  the                                                                   
        fourth degree,  a  class A  misdemeanor,  would be  a                                                                   
        class C  felony if  the  assault was  committed to  a                                                                   
        person 65 years of age or older.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:17:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  SKIDMORE,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  ASSISTANT                                                                    
ATTORNEY  GENERAL, DEPARTMENT  OF LAW,  ANCHORAGE, testified                                                                    
in support for  both HB 131 and HB  132.  He spoke in length                                                                    
about the  problems associated  with identify  theft and  how                                                                   
that related to the  vulnerable senior population.  He  urged                                                                   
passage of the legislation and offered to answer questions.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:19:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Stoltze   indicated  his  appreciation  for   Mr.                                                                   
Skidmore's work done on the bills.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:20:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHELLE  LOGAN, (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE), ANCHORAGE                                                                    
POLICE   DEPARTMENT,   DETECTIVE,   PROPERTY   CRIMES  UNIT,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE, testified in  support for HB 131 and HB 132.   She                                                                   
noted an increase in  identify theft in the past three  years                                                                   
throughout  the  State.   She  claimed that  mostly  what  is                                                                   
happening is the misuse  of credit cards; the proposed  bills                                                                   
would  address that  theft type.   The  bill will  allow  law                                                                   
enforcement  to  better  combat  the ever-increasing  theft.                                                                    
She  pointed  out  that  forgery  is  now  taken  seriously,                                                                    
punished at  a C felony; whereas,  in the past, those crimes                                                                    
were classified as misdemeanors.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Logan  spoke to  current cases  and how  the legislation                                                                    
would affect  the crime  results if  the victim  was over  65                                                                   
years of  age.  She  stressed how much  more vulnerable  that                                                                   
population  group   is.    There   are  circumstances   where                                                                   
swindlers  look  and  talk like  worthy  people.    It  takes                                                                   
"intent" on  the criminal's part when  they are dealing  with                                                                   
the elderly.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:29:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JAY   FOLEY,  (TESTIFIED   VIA   TELECONFERENCE),  EXECUTIVE                                                                    
DIRECTOR,  NATIONAL  IDENTITY THEFT  RESOURCE  CENTER,  noted                                                                   
support  for   the  proposed  legislation.     There  was   a                                                                   
completed  study in  2003,  which charted  600 hours  as  the                                                                   
amount  of time  that  it could  take  to reclaim  a persons                                                                    
identify.   Many victims claim that  the imposter gets  away.                                                                   
HB 131  increases that  crime to  a felony,  which Mr.  Foley                                                                   
thought would be an  "excellent step".  He added that HB  132                                                                   
is also a good bill.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Foley  noted that  senior  citizens are  good targets  as                                                                   
they do not  use their credit cards  as much.  Additionally,                                                                    
sometimes faced  with memory  lapse and  disorientation.   He                                                                   
believed  that some  seniors are  afraid to  admit that  they                                                                   
are victims of fraud  and identify theft for fear of loosing                                                                    
their  ability  to   live  alone  and  the  stigma  that   is                                                                   
associated with that.  He urged passage of the legislation.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:33:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARIE DARLIN,  ALASKA ASSOCIATION  OF RETIRED PEOPLE  (AARP),                                                                   
JUNEAU, spoke in support of the  legislation.  She noted that                                                                   
AARP is an  organization that supports consumer  issues.  She                                                                   
urged that the Committee move the bills.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:34:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer agreed  that these are good and  timely bills.                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Stoltze thanked Ms.  Darlin for  her help  on the                                                                   
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:35:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SAM TRIVETTE,  ALASKA ASSOCIATION  OF RETIRED PEOPLE  (AARP),                                                                   
testified in  support of the  legislation.  He  stressed that                                                                   
the impact upon  victims is huge.  Often times,  when dealing                                                                   
with identity  theft, the person  is dealing with  someone in                                                                   
another state.  Changing the status  of the crime to a felony                                                                   
makes  it  much more  real.    He echoed  concerns  with  the                                                                   
devastation  and the  amount of  time that  it takes to  deal                                                                   
with these  crimes.  He did not  think that there would  be a                                                                   
dramatic fiscal impact with passage of the legislation.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:37:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly suggested that  the best benefit  could                                                                   
be  public  education.   Mr.  Trivette  noted that  AARP  had                                                                   
sponsored statewide  seminars addressing these  concerns.  He                                                                   
agreed that more public education would be helpful.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:38:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer  asked about the  additional costs  moving the                                                                   
crime status from  a misdemeanor to a felony.   He questioned                                                                   
the  Public  Defender's  fiscal  note  and  inquired  if  the                                                                   
requested  two-thirds attorney  fee would be  made up  in the                                                                   
requested costs.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
LINDA   WILSON,  (TESTIFIED   VIA   TELECONFERENCE),   DEPUTY                                                                   
DIRECTOR,    PUBLIC    DEFENDER   AGENCY,    DEPARTMENT    OF                                                                   
ADMINISTRATION,  ANCHORAGE,  commented  on  the  fiscal  note                                                                   
request of $129  thousand dollars for HB 132  plus two thirds                                                                   
position for an attorney.  The  contract attorney would be an                                                                   
employee of the State but would not be full time.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker  referenced  HB 131,  referencing  the                                                                   
indeterminate fiscal note.  Ms.  Wilson acknowledged that the                                                                   
Committee  could decide  what  is best;  however, the  Agency                                                                   
does not submit an indeterminate  note "lightly".  She stated                                                                   
that the  Public Defenders  office believe  there would  be a                                                                   
fiscal impact.   When the offense is raised to  a felony, the                                                                   
theft  of  a  credit card,  or  access  device,  which  could                                                                   
include  a single  check, raise  to a  felony, the  use of  a                                                                   
credit to $50 dollars.   The change would lower  it from $500                                                                   
dollars to $50  dollars.  She believed that there  would be a                                                                   
noticeable increase  in charges brought forward.   Ms. Wilson                                                                   
thought that there  would be a lot of younger  people charged                                                                   
with using fake  identification (ID).  There  are no specific                                                                   
numbers in the amount of theft  cases that can break it down.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:42:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Stoltze  MOVED to report  HB 131 out  of Committee                                                                   
with  individual recommendations  and  with the  accompanying                                                                   
fiscal notes.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HB  131  was reported  out  of  Committee  with a  "do  pass"                                                                   
recommendation  and with zero  note #1  by the Department  of                                                                   
Corrections,  zero note  #2 by  the Department  of Law,  zero                                                                   
note #3 by the Department of Public  Safety and indeterminate                                                                   
note #4 by the Department of Administration.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Stoltze  MOVED to  report CS HB  132 (JUD)  out of                                                                   
Committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal notes.  There  being NO OBJECTION, it was                                                                   
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CS HB  132 (JUD)  was reported  out of  Committee with  a "do                                                                   
pass"  recommendation  and with  a  new  fiscal note  by  the                                                                   
Alaska Court System,  a new fiscal note by  the Department of                                                                   
Administration, zero  note #1 by the Department  of Law, zero                                                                   
note #2 by the Department of Public  Safety and indeterminate                                                                   
note #3 by the Department of Corrections.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE:       3:44:37 PM                                                                                                     
RECONVENE:     3:46:45 PM                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                

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