Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS ROOM 519

04/27/2019 10:00 AM FINANCE

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Audio Topic
10:00:12 AM Start
10:00:49 AM HB20
10:27:02 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to a Call of the Chair --
Scheduled but Not Heard
<Pending Referral>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                   HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                      
                       April 27, 2019                                                                                           
                         10:00 a.m.                                                                                             
10:00:12 AM                                                                                                                   
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Wilson called the House Finance Committee meeting                                                                      
to order at 10:00 a.m.                                                                                                          
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Tammie Wilson, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Jennifer Johnston, Vice-Chair                                                                                    
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Ben Carpenter                                                                                                    
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Kelly Merrick                                                                                                    
Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard                                                                                         
Representative Cathy Tilton                                                                                                     
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
John Skidmore, Director, Criminal Division, Department of                                                                       
HB 20     SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION KITS                                                                                       
          HB 20 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
HOUSE BILL NO. 20                                                                                                             
     "An Act requiring law enforcement agencies to send                                                                         
     sexual assault examination kits for testing within six                                                                     
     months after collection; and providing for an                                                                              
     effective date."                                                                                                           
10:00:49 AM                                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair Johnston  MOVED to  ADOPT the  proposed committee                                                                    
substitute  for  HB  20, Work  Draft  31-LS0253\C  (Radford,                                                                    
4/26/19). There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                          
10:03:08 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Wilson  asked about  the inflation  proofing change                                                                    
in the committee substitute (CS).                                                                                               
JOHN  SKIDMORE, DIRECTOR,  CRIMINAL DIVISION,  DEPARTMENT OF                                                                    
LAW, was present to review the  (CS). He relayed that the CS                                                                    
eliminated the  inflation proofing adjustment enacted  in SB                                                                    
91-Omnibus  Crim Law  & Procedure;  Corrections [CHAPTER  36                                                                    
SLA  16  -  07/11/2016].   He  underlined  that  a  monetary                                                                    
threshold  determined the  difference between  a misdemeanor                                                                    
or  felony  level  offense   regarding  property  crime.  He                                                                    
delineated that  historically, the legislature  adjusted the                                                                    
monetary levels.  The level  was adjusted  in 2015  with the                                                                    
passage of  SB 64 Omnibus  Crime/Corrections/Recidivism Bill                                                                    
[CHAPTER   83  SLA   14,   Adopted   on  07/16/2014]   after                                                                    
significant  debate. He  remarked  that when  the level  was                                                                    
adjusted again  the following  year in SB  91 the  topic was                                                                    
heavily  debated. The  legislature  addressed the  threshold                                                                    
again  in  SB  54-  Crimes;  Sentencing;  Probation;  Parole                                                                    
[CHAPTER  1  4SSLA  17  -  11/26/2017].  He  explained  that                                                                    
retaining  the inflation  adjustment  meant the  legislature                                                                    
would  abdicate its  role in  changing the  threshold for  a                                                                    
misdemeanor and  felony level  offense. The  Alaska Judicial                                                                    
Council would  announce any changes  in the  threshold based                                                                    
on  inflation  information  provided by  the  Department  of                                                                    
Commerce, Community  and Economic Development  (DCCED) every                                                                    
five  years.  He noted  that  when  SB  91 was  enacted  the                                                                    
Department of Law (DOL) had  addressed its concerns with the                                                                    
approach in  a SB 91 bill  review letter [copy not  on file]                                                                    
to  the   legislature.  The   SB  91   inflation  adjustment                                                                    
provisions had not yet been  implemented due to an effective                                                                    
date  of 2020.  The CS  eliminated the  inflation adjustment                                                                    
10:05:39 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr. Skidmore  noted that  Sections 14 through  21 of  the CS                                                                    
related  to  the  inflation adjustment.  He  continued  with                                                                    
Section 22 on page 13  of the legislation that addressed the                                                                    
crime of escape in the  third degree. He elaborated that the                                                                    
provisions  criminalized the  conduct of  tampering with  an                                                                    
electronic  monitoring  (EM)  device  while  under  official                                                                    
detention  for  a  misdemeanor.  He  offered  that  official                                                                    
detention  occurred  subsequent  to  a  conviction  and  was                                                                    
addressed in  subsection (3).  He indicated  that subsection                                                                    
(4)  addressed EM  tampering under  pretrial release,  which                                                                    
adjusted the crime to escape  in the third degree, which was                                                                    
a Class C  felony; it would increase jail time  from 0 to up                                                                    
to 30 days for removing an electronic device.                                                                                   
Representative Josephson  asked if  the department  wanted a                                                                    
similar provision  relative to the Department  of Health and                                                                    
Social Services (DHSS)  for escape in the  second degree. He                                                                    
asked  whether  there had  been  two  provisions in  SB  32-                                                                    
Crimes;  Sentencing; Ment.  Illness; Evidence  that involved                                                                    
similar concepts. Mr. Skidmore  answered in the affirmative.                                                                    
He read the  following from Section 22, lines  11 through 14                                                                    
subparagraph (B):                                                                                                               
     (B)without prior authorization,  leaves one's residence                                                                    
     or  other  place  designated  by  the  commissioner  of                                                                    
     corrections or  the commissioner  of health  and social                                                                    
     services for service by electronic monitoring;                                                                             
Mr. Skidmore  reported that DHSS  was referenced  because it                                                                    
housed the Division of Juvenile  Justice. The provisions for                                                                    
the  Department of  Corrections  applied to  adults and  the                                                                    
provisions for DHSS applied to  juveniles. He indicated that                                                                    
Representative  Josephson pointed  to an  omission that  DOL                                                                    
discovered in AS  11.56.310 related to escape  in the second                                                                    
degree, that had  a provision for DOC but  not for juveniles                                                                    
under DHSS. The dual provision was only included in SB 32.                                                                      
10:09:24 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Carpenter asked if  a child detained under EM                                                                    
that cut  off their  ankle monitor would  be charged  with a                                                                    
Class  C felony.  Mr. Skidmore  replied in  the affirmative.                                                                    
The difference was that the  juvenile would be dealt with in                                                                    
the juvenile  court and it  was not public  information. The                                                                    
sanctions imposed between the  juvenile courts and the adult                                                                    
courts were dramatically different.                                                                                             
10:10:21 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr.  Skidmore reviewed  Sections 23  and 24  related to  the                                                                    
crime  of  failure  to  appear and  indicated  that  the  CS                                                                    
returned  the discretion  to the  courts.  He detailed  that                                                                    
prior to SB  91, if someone failed to appear  to any type of                                                                    
court hearing the person could  be charged with the crime of                                                                    
failure to appear. The failure  to appear charge depended on                                                                    
whether the  crime the  offender committed  was a  felony or                                                                    
misdemeanor.  A  felony failure  to  appear  was a  Class  C                                                                    
felony and  a misdemeanor  failure to appear  was a  Class C                                                                    
misdemeanor.  Previously, when  individuals  failed to  show                                                                    
for certain hearings, judges would  frequently issue a bench                                                                    
warrant without  officially entering it into  the system for                                                                    
a couple  of days - the  defense had that amount  of time to                                                                    
get their client  to appear. However, in  some instances the                                                                    
judge would  issue the  warrant immediately.  In SB  91, the                                                                    
concept of a 30-day grace  period had been introduced unless                                                                    
the  prosecutor could  prove that  the reason  the defendant                                                                    
failed  to show  up was  to avoid  prosecution. The  numbers                                                                    
were not  dramatic in  terms of  the number  of prosecutions                                                                    
for  failure to  appear, which  was 137  in 2015.  After the                                                                    
grace period  went into effect  the number of  cases dropped                                                                    
to  30, which  was  about 107  fewer  cases. The  department                                                                    
found that  it became much  more difficult to  prosecute the                                                                    
cases. He  furthered that when  someone failed to  appear it                                                                    
was not just about the  hearing failing to go forward, there                                                                    
were also  collateral consequences. He detailed  that it was                                                                    
a  waste   of  time  for  the   victims,  witnesses,  police                                                                    
officers, court  employees, etc. who disrupted  their lives,                                                                    
jobs etc.  to show up for  court. The CS returned  the bench                                                                    
warrant discretion to the courts.                                                                                               
10:14:37 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr.  Skidmore moved  to Section  25 related  to the  state's                                                                    
drug  laws. He  elucidated that  3 major  changes had  taken                                                                    
place. The first provision dealt with possession crimes.                                                                        
Prior to  SB 91, possession  of controlled substances  was a                                                                    
Class  C felony  with  a  sentencing range  of  zero to  two                                                                    
years. Subsequent to  SB 91, the crimes had  been reduced to                                                                    
a Class A misdemeanor with a  sentencing range of zero for a                                                                    
first or  second offense. The third  offense authorized some                                                                    
active jail time. Generally, sanctions  were ratcheted up as                                                                    
offences  continued. The  department had  done approximately                                                                    
1,000 drug  prosecutions prior  to SB 91  - that  number had                                                                    
decreased to around  300 after the bill  passed. He observed                                                                    
that  as  a  result,  fewer  offenders  were  sent  to  drug                                                                    
treatment  programs. Drug  distribution crimes  were reduced                                                                    
in  SB  91.  Prior  to  SB  91  the  sentences  ranged  from                                                                    
unclassified  felony, Class  A  felony, to  Class B  felony.                                                                    
After SB  91, the  unclassified sentences  had been  left in                                                                    
place,  but  classed  felonies were  reduced  downwards.  In                                                                    
addition, a  new concept considering  the quantity  of drugs                                                                    
determined whether  it was  considered a  low or  high level                                                                    
distribution.  He noted  that the  distribution changes  had                                                                    
 substantially   disturbed    the   framework     that   was                                                                    
established in  prior law. He  mentioned an  appellate court                                                                    
case called Knight [Knight v.  State, 1993] that set out all                                                                    
the factors concerning drug distribution.                                                                                       
10:18:11 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr.  Skidmore read  from page  7 of  the bill  review letter                                                                    
related to the Knight case:                                                                                                     
      Within  any   class  of  controlled   substance,  what                                                                    
     constitutes an  unusually  small   or  large   quantity                                                                    
     may  vary  from   case to  case, depending on variables                                                                    
     such as  the precise  nature of  the substance  and the                                                                    
     form in which  it is possessed, the  relative purity of                                                                    
     the substance, its  commercial   value at  the time  of                                                                    
     the   offense,   and    the   relative availability  or                                                                    
     scarcity of  the substance in  the community  where the                                                                    
     crime is   committed.   Variations   may   also   occur                                                                    
     over   time:   what  amounted to  a typical  controlled                                                                    
     substance  transaction  ten  years  ago might    be  an                                                                    
     exceptional   one  today.   These   variables  do   not                                                                    
     lend  themselves  to  an  inflexible  rule  of  general                                                                    
     application, and  they render  it both  undesirable and                                                                    
     wholly  impractical  to  treat  the  question  of  what                                                                    
     constitutes a "large" or "small" quantity  . . .  as an                                                                    
     abstract question of law. The  question must instead be                                                                    
     resolved by  the sentencing court as  a factual matter,                                                                    
     based on the  totality of the evidence in  the case and                                                                    
     on the   court's discretion, as informed by the                                                                            
     totality of its experience.                                                                                                
     Knight v.State, 855 P.2d 1347, 1349-50  (Alaska Ct.                                                                        
     App. 1993                                                                                                                  
10:19:13 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr. Skidmore noted that the  letter described the  elegance                                                                     
of  the former  review  system. He  pointed  to Sections  25                                                                    
through   27  and   reported  that   the  CS   returned  the                                                                    
distribution  crimes  to  pre-SB  91  levels.  He  cautioned                                                                    
members related to reviewing the  bill sections. He informed                                                                    
the committee  that there  were elements  that seemed  to be                                                                    
repeated and  it was  critical to  read the  repealers while                                                                    
reading the  legislation. He reviewed the  third change made                                                                    
in  the drug  laws.  He voiced  that  previous law  included                                                                    
sections   addressing   methamphetamine   distribution.   He                                                                    
offered  that meth  production was  extremely hazardous  and                                                                    
required specialized  HAZMAT [hazardous  materials] cleanup.                                                                    
The offenses were   serious  and the laws  that were enacted                                                                    
helped to  combat the problem.  Unfortunately, meth  was now                                                                    
imported to  Alaska primarily  from Mexico.  He communicated                                                                    
that  the CS  returned  the meth  provisions  in statute  to                                                                    
ensure that  meth manufacturing would  never  raise its ugly                                                                    
head again in Alaska.                                                                                                           
10:21:34 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Josephson  liked the restoration of  the drug                                                                    
code  with   one  concern.  He   recalled  his   alarm  when                                                                    
possession of heroin with no  intention to distribute became                                                                    
a Class  A misdemeanor not subject  to jail under SB  91. He                                                                    
asked that  if possession was  returned to a Class  C felony                                                                    
but  conditions  mandating  substance abuse  treatment  were                                                                    
imposed  under a  suspended entry  of  judgment (SEJ),  what                                                                    
would assure  him that the state  was providing alternatives                                                                    
other than  imposing jailtime. He would  be more comfortable                                                                    
restoring  the  possession  statutes  with  assurances  that                                                                    
conditions  under  an  SEJ  would  always  be  imposed.  Mr.                                                                    
Skidmore affirmed  that possession  crimes were  returned to                                                                    
Class C felonies in the  CS. He communicated that he favored                                                                    
SEJ and it was one of  the concepts from SB 91 that remained                                                                    
in  the CS  and was  not proposed  for repeal.  He specified                                                                    
that an SEJ imposed conditions  on a conviction for a person                                                                    
who pleaded guilty. If the  offender followed the conditions                                                                    
the case  would be dismissed,  the record would  not reflect                                                                    
that  the individual  was ever  convicted. He  characterized                                                                    
SEJ  as a   new tool   available that  he hoped  prosecutors                                                                    
could take better advantage of in possession cases.                                                                             
10:25:02 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr.  Skidmore indicated  that the  remaining sections  up to                                                                    
Section 32  dealt with drug offenses.  The sections returned                                                                    
drug offenses to  pre-SB 91 laws. He reviewed  Section 33 on                                                                    
page 24  related to Class  B felony sentencing.  The section                                                                    
returned Class B felony sentencing  back to what it had been                                                                    
prior  to SB  91. He  elaborated  that a  first offense  was                                                                    
returned  to a  one to  three year  presumptive sentence.  A                                                                    
second offense  was returned to  a sentence of two  to seven                                                                    
years and the  third offense was returned to 6  to 10 years.                                                                    
He believed  that Class  B felonies  were more  serious than                                                                    
Class C felonies,  yet currently the sentences  (zero to two                                                                    
years)   were  the   same.  The   change   would  apply   to                                                                    
strangulation as in the Justin  Schneider case. He commented                                                                    
that currently any degree of  strangulation would be treated                                                                    
the same as  a Class C felony and was  subject to a sentence                                                                    
of zero to  two years. The CS increased the  sentence to one                                                                    
to three  years and  applied additional sentencing  if prior                                                                    
felonies were involved.                                                                                                         
10:27:02 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr. Skidmore furthered that  Section 34 contained conforming                                                                    
language  related to  drug laws.  He noted  that Section  35                                                                    
through 38  were existing sections.  Section 39  contained a                                                                    
change  that  created an  efficiency  for  felony cases.  He                                                                    
elucidated  that  prosecutors  had to  show  prior  criminal                                                                    
convictions  when indicting  felony cases.  A wrap  sheet (a                                                                    
type  of print  out) was  sufficient for  Driving Under  the                                                                    
Influence  (DUI)  offences  but other  felonies  required  a                                                                    
certified copy of  the judgement by the time a  case went to                                                                    
trial.  He concluded  that Section  40  included changes  to                                                                    
repealers  that  he  was  unable   to  review  due  to  time                                                                    
Representative Josephson  asked to  hear Mr.  Skidmore again                                                                    
after floor.                                                                                                                    
HB  20  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
Co-Chair Wilson RECESSED the meeting  to a call of the chair                                                                    
[note: the meeting never reconvened].                                                                                           
10:29:00 AM                                                                                                                   
The meeting was adjourned at 10:29 a.m.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB20 CS WORKDRAFT FIN vC.pdf HFIN 4/27/2019 10:00:00 AM
HB 20