Legislature(2017 - 2018)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/06/2017 01:30 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to a Call of the Chair --
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 141 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
HOUSE BILL NO. 127                                                                                                            
     "An Act  relating to a  permanent fund dividend  for an                                                                    
     individual   whose   conviction   has   been   vacated,                                                                    
     reversed,   or   dismissed;   and   relating   to   the                                                                    
     calculation  of   the  value  of  the   permanent  fund                                                                    
     dividend by  including payment to  individuals eligible                                                                    
     for a  permanent fund dividend because  of a conviction                                                                    
     that has been vacated, reversed, or dismissed."                                                                            
2:26:33 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Wilson referred  to page 1, line  10 and read                                                                    
the following:                                                                                                                  
     …individual's conviction is vacated or reversed, and                                                                       
     (1)  the charges on  which the conviction was based are                                                                    
     later dismissed; or                                                                                                        
     (2)  the individual is retried and found not guilty.                                                                       
Representative  Wilson wondered  whether the  language meant                                                                    
that if  a conviction had  been merely vacated a  person was                                                                    
not eligible under the bill.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SCOTT KAWASAKI,  SPONSOR,  relayed that  the                                                                    
bill  was   not  necessarily   introduced  to   address  the                                                                    
Fairbanks  Four. He  voiced that  the bill  was intended  to                                                                    
address   anyone   who    was   wrongfully   convicted   and                                                                    
incarcerated  and  was  denied  the  ability  to  receive  a                                                                    
Permanent  Fund Dividend  (PFD). He  deferred any  questions                                                                    
regarding the  Fairbanks Four to  the Department of  Law. He                                                                    
noted that he  had a copy of the  agreement between Attorney                                                                    
General  Craig Richards  and the  individuals  known as  the                                                                    
Fairbanks Four.                                                                                                                 
Representative  Wilson  believed  that  the  Fairbanks  Four                                                                    
would not  be eligible  under the  bill. She  cited previous                                                                    
testimony from the individual members  of the Fairbanks Four                                                                    
who testified in favor of the bill.                                                                                             
2:29:25 PM                                                                                                                    
HILARY    MARTIN,    LEGISLATIVE    LEGAL,    JUNEAU    (via                                                                    
teleconference), did not know the answer to the question.                                                                       
Representative Wilson repeated the question.                                                                                    
KACI   SCHROEDER,  ASSISTANT   ATTORNEY  GENERAL,   CRIMINAL                                                                    
DIVISION,  DEPARTMENT OF  LAW,  replied  that the  Fairbanks                                                                    
Four would fall under the  bill because the convictions were                                                                    
vacated,  and  the  charges were  dismissed.  Representative                                                                    
Wilson asked  for verification that all  the charges against                                                                    
the  Four  were  dismissed.  Ms. Schroeder  replied  in  the                                                                    
Representative Thompson  asked about the  difference between                                                                    
overturned, dismissed,  and vacated. Ms.  Schroeder answered                                                                    
that  all the  judgements were  vacated in  the case  of the                                                                    
Fairbanks Four.  She added that  vacated and  reversed meant                                                                    
to annul. The words were used interchangeably.                                                                                  
2:32:31 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Guttenberg  pointed to page 1,  line 10 after                                                                    
the word "reversed"  in the bill and asked if  the comma was                                                                    
considered an  Oxford comma that separated  the clauses. Ms.                                                                    
Schroeder replied in the affirmative.                                                                                           
Representative Pruitt  asked how  many people  were eligible                                                                    
under  the provisions  in the  bill. Ms.  Schroeder did  not                                                                    
have the data.  She believed the bill sponsor  had the exact                                                                    
numbers.   Representative  Pruitt   spoke   of  a   previous                                                                    
situation  when  the  governor had  the  ability  to  pardon                                                                    
people. He  wondered whether previously pardoned  people had                                                                    
the  ability   to  claim   their  dividend.   Ms.  Schroeder                                                                    
responded  that  the  bill  did  not  include  pardons.  She                                                                    
deferred the question to the Department of Revenue.                                                                             
Representative  Kawasaki relayed  the  difficulty to  obtain                                                                    
data  regarding the  issue and  that DOL  did not  track the                                                                    
information, however,  he discovered  that the  Court System                                                                    
produced  some  data   for  a  similar  bill   in  the  29th                                                                    
legislature. He reported  that the number showed  that 19 to                                                                    
23  individuals  between  the   years  2011  and  2015  were                                                                    
Representative   Pruitt   believed   that   the   bill   was                                                                    
retroactive to  1982 at the  start of the  PFD distribution.                                                                    
He  wondered   if  the  sponsor   had  any  idea   how  many                                                                    
individuals  would be  eligible  since 1982.  He also  asked                                                                    
whether   the   bill    provided   for   interest   accrual.                                                                    
Representative  Kawasaki  answered  that the  bill  did  not                                                                    
contain  a provision  applying interest  to the  retroactive                                                                    
payments. He  added that  DOR would  determine the  value of                                                                    
the PFD  for each  year the individual  applied for  and DOL                                                                    
would  decide   eligibility.  The   bill  provided   for  an                                                                    
application period  of 120  days after  the bill  was signed                                                                    
into   law.   Representative   Pruitt  asked   whether   the                                                                    
appropriations  would  come  out  of  the  Earnings  Reserve                                                                    
Account   (ERA)  of   the  Permanent   Fund.  Representative                                                                    
Kawasaki  answered  that the  money  would  be paid  from  a                                                                    
specific "Reserve  for Prior Year Dividend  Liabilities." He                                                                    
explained  that  DOR  established the  reserve  account  for                                                                    
circumstances  when prior  year dividends  were owed,  which                                                                    
was why the fiscal note was zero.                                                                                               
2:38:30 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Pruitt commented  that  prisoners PFDs  were                                                                    
applied to  health care costs  or victim's  compensation and                                                                    
the funds  were already spent.  He asked whether  any future                                                                    
"conflicts" might arise  from the issue that  the funds were                                                                    
already spent  and used money  from the reserve  account for                                                                    
compensation.  Representative  Kawasaki  thought  it  was  a                                                                    
policy call. He believed that a  person who went to jail and                                                                    
was  wrongfully convicted  was a  victim. He  contended that                                                                    
the   legislation   was   for  the   wrongfully   convicted.                                                                    
Representative  Pruitt wanted  to  understand any  ancillary                                                                    
fiscal effects of  the bill. He agreed that if  a person was                                                                    
wrongfully convicted their life  was disrupted. He wanted to                                                                    
ensure that  the reserve fund  would be the  absolute source                                                                    
of  the   reimbursement  funding.   Representative  Kawasaki                                                                    
reiterated that  the issue  was a  policy call.  He believed                                                                    
that  when  a  person  was placed  in  jail  and  wrongfully                                                                    
convicted the  state owed the victims  something. He pointed                                                                    
out that the  individual was denied the  benefit of applying                                                                    
for the PFD.                                                                                                                    
Representative   Pruitt  requested   that  DOR   answer  the                                                                    
question.  He   merely  wanted  to  understand   the  fiscal                                                                    
ramifications from the bill.                                                                                                    
2:41:45 PM                                                                                                                    
JERRY  BURNETT,  DEPUTY   COMMISSIONER,  TREASURY  DIVISION,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT   OF  REVENUE,   responded  that   in  1982   the                                                                    
incarcerated  population in  Alaska  could apply  for a  PFD                                                                    
until sometime in the 1990s  so the retroactivity did not go                                                                    
back that  far. He  confirmed that the  money would  be paid                                                                    
for out of  the Reserve for Prior Year  Dividends, which was                                                                    
calculated each year on a  statistical basis. He thought the                                                                    
number  of  people the  legislation  would  affect was  "not                                                                    
significant relative  to the amount  of money  reserved each                                                                    
year." He  delineated that the  reserve funding was  used to                                                                    
pay for  situations such as  upheld appeals from  the Office                                                                    
of  Administrative Hearings,  Commissioner's  Office, or  by                                                                    
the  Courts. He  reiterated  that the  bill  would cover  an                                                                    
"insignificant"  number  of  people relative  to  the  total                                                                    
number of appeals.                                                                                                              
Vice-Chair  Gara  did  not see  a  provision  for  notifying                                                                    
someone  who   was  released  from   wrongful  incarceration                                                                    
included  in the  bill.  He  thought 120  days  was a  short                                                                    
period of  time for  people who were  trying to  piece their                                                                    
lives  together  after release.  He  felt  that a  year  was                                                                    
fairer.  Representative Kawasaki  replied that  the previous                                                                    
committee  engaged in  discussion over  the time  period but                                                                    
did not  want to offer  an amendment to lengthen  the amount                                                                    
of time.  He announced that he  would honor the will  of the                                                                    
committee.  Vice-Chair Gara  commented  that  he wanted  the                                                                    
sponsor to decide whether to offer the amendment.                                                                               
Co-Chair Foster asked members to  submit their amendments by                                                                    
5:00 pm, Monday, 10, 2017.                                                                                                      
HB  127  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further