Legislature(1999 - 2000)

05/12/1999 01:52 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSSB 4(FIN) - OFFICE OF VICTIMS' RIGHTS                                                                                         
CHAIRMAN KOTT announced the next order of business is CS FOR SENATE                                                             
BILL NO. 4(FIN), "An Act relating to victims' rights; relating to                                                               
establishing an office of victims' rights; relating to compensation                                                             
of victims of violent crimes; relating to eligibility for a                                                                     
permanent fund dividend for persons convicted of and incarcerated                                                               
for certain offenses; relating to notice of appropriations                                                                      
concerning victims' rights; and amending Rule 16, Alaska Rules of                                                               
Criminal Procedure, Rule 9, Alaska Delinquency Rules, and Rule 501,                                                             
Alaska Rules of Evidence; and providing for an effective date."                                                                 
KEVIN JARDELL, Legislative Assistant to Representative Joe Green,                                                               
Alaska State Legislature, noted that the committee substitute (CS)                                                              
was being drafted.  The changes of the subcommittee can be                                                                      
discussed without the CS.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES commented that there are quite a few changes.                                                              
Number 2287                                                                                                                     
BRETT HUBER, Legislative Assistant to Senator Rick Halford, Alaska                                                              
State Legislature, informed the committee that it has before it the                                                             
Senate Judiciary Committee version which is what the subcommittee                                                               
version will look like.  Mr. Huber commented that the subcommittee                                                              
probably spent most of its time determining where to put the                                                                    
office.  The forthcoming CS will place the office in the                                                                        
legislative branch.  He reviewed specific areas resulting from the                                                              
placement of the office back in the legislative branch which                                                                    
include the nomination of the victims' advocate.  The victims'                                                                  
advocate would be nominated by a selection committee comprised of                                                               
three members of the House and three members of the Senate                                                                      
appointed by their presiding officers, including one minority                                                                   
member from each body.  A two-thirds vote of a joint session to                                                                 
confirm the victims' advocate would be required.  The term of                                                                   
office for the victims' advocate would be five years with a maximum                                                             
of three terms served.  Each additional term would require the                                                                  
two-thirds reappointment vote.  If the advocate had to leave the                                                                
office during the term, the acting victims' advocate would have to                                                              
fulfill the remainder of the term which would go through an                                                                     
appointment cycle.  Mr. Huber pointed out that there is a removal                                                               
provision which, with a two-thirds vote, could remove the victims'                                                              
advocate for neglect of duty, misconduct, or disability to perform                                                              
the duties.  Compensation is specified in the forthcoming CS.                                                                   
There is a staffing delegation section as well as a section                                                                     
describing the office and facilities which are made available in                                                                
the Legislative Affairs branch.  There is also the budget process                                                               
which would go through Legislative Council.  All those would be                                                                 
additions that can be seen in the Senate Judiciary Committee                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI directed the committee to the removal                                                                  
clause and inquired as to what was meant by "disability."  She                                                                  
understood an individual's "inability" to perform a job.                                                                        
MR. HUBER deferred to the drafter who was on his way to the                                                                     
hearing.  He noted that it was taken from the ombudsman's statutes.                                                             
CHAIRMAN KOTT returned to appointment and the ability for an acting                                                             
advocate to complete the term of an advocate who has left office                                                                
for whatever reason.                                                                                                            
MR. HUBER agreed.  He explained that the victims' advocate must                                                                 
name an acting advocate.                                                                                                        
TAPE 99-68, SIDE B                                                                                                              
CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if the acting advocate would finish the                                                                     
remainder of the victims' advocate's term without legislative                                                                   
MR. HUBER replied that is correct.  In response to Representative                                                               
James, he noted that the acting advocate would be an attorney.                                                                  
Number 0033                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES commented that the subcommittee felt that at                                                               
least one attorney position is necessary, but this discussion is                                                                
regarding having an alternative victims' advocate.  She assumed                                                                 
that would be someone who would be working in the office which                                                                  
would mean two attorneys.                                                                                                       
MR. HUBER explained that the staffing levels envisioned in the                                                                  
fiscal note from the Department of Public Safety, which is                                                                      
identical to the previous fiscal note submitted by the Legislative                                                              
Affairs Agency, would have a victims' advocate and two additional                                                               
attorneys, one paralegal, and three secretaries.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES inquired as to the meaning of the subcommittee                                                             
saying that at least one attorney was necessary for the victims'                                                                
advocate to be effective.                                                                                                       
MR. HUBER noted that one of Chairman Kott's questions to the                                                                    
subcommittee was regarding whether the victims' advocate needed to                                                              
be an attorney.  He recommended that the question be directed to                                                                
the subcommittee chair, Representative Murkowski.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN informed the committee that originally, there                                                              
was the possibility of reducing the office to one location.                                                                     
Currently, three locations are envisioned.  He indicated that the                                                               
committee [subcommittee] felt that there is a critical mass to make                                                             
this work.  In response to Representative James, Representative                                                                 
Green stated that this is being funded from those losing their                                                                  
permanent fund dividend.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG interjected that the funding is taken from                                                              
the Department of Corrections.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN clarified that the group that would be                                                                     
involved has been expanded.  "That delta between what was and what                                                              
is, that'll pay for it."                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG reiterated that the funding is taken from                                                               
the Department of Corrections.  He emphasized that he had some real                                                             
problems with this advocate being in the legislature as well as the                                                             
consumer price index (CPI) clause in the legislation.  The CPI used                                                             
is the Anchorage CPI which is only published annually.                                                                          
MR. HUBER stated that provision does not actually apply to the                                                                  
Office of Victims' Rights, but applies to the Violent Crimes                                                                    
Compensation Board per that board's request.  That addition was                                                                 
made by Senator Donley in the Senate Finance Committee.  He                                                                     
explained that the amount allowed to be awarded is increased and                                                                
allowed the Violent Crimes Compensation Board, by regulation, to                                                                
index those increases annually, if they choose, with the Anchorage                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said his argument is the same; it is the                                                                
wrong index to use.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN noted another change in which the report is                                                                
not merely submitted annually, but also is available to the public.                                                             
Number 0245                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG inquired as to why the subcommittee decided                                                             
to place this office within the legislature.  He said that it seems                                                             
to inflate the legislature's budget with no benefit to the                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN pointed out that there were problems with                                                                  
placing this office in the Department of Public Safety and the                                                                  
Department of Law.  This issue was probably more time consuming                                                                 
than any other.                                                                                                                 
MR. HUBER informed the committee that he had talked with Ms.                                                                    
Carpeneti, Department of Law, and Mr. Smith, Department of Public                                                               
Safety.  Both Ms. Carpeneti and Mr. Smith indicated that it makes                                                               
better sense to place this office in an entity that can review the                                                              
functions of those agencies at an arm's length, as is the case with                                                             
the ombudsman.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commented, laughingly, that this extra                                                                  
money should be placed in the Ombudsman's Office.  He pointed out                                                               
that the Public Defender and the Office of Public Advocacy are in                                                               
the Department of Administration in order to avoid conflict.  This                                                              
is an administrative function which has nothing to do with the                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN interjected that the discussion drifted around                                                             
the fact that this should be a technically trained person, an                                                                   
attorney, who can be at an arm's length.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES commented that it could have been put out to                                                               
bid to some nonprofits.                                                                                                         
MR. HUBER acknowledged that was discussed in the House Judiciary                                                                
Subcommittee as well as the Senate Finance Committee.  The Victims                                                              
for Justice group said that it would prefer a new office versus                                                                 
money because they believed there is more assistance with an                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commented, "Well, they know how to grow                                                                 
organizationally and bureaucracy."                                                                                              
MR. HUBER noted that Representative Kerttula had suggested that                                                                 
language requested by the Department of Law stating, "(c) The                                                                   
victims' advocate may not advise, counsel, or advocate on behalf of                                                             
a victim in a way that would, (1) prevent or discourage a victim                                                                
from cooperating with law enforcement authorities in a criminal                                                                 
investigation; (2) encourage a victim to withhold evidence from law                                                             
enforcement authorities in a criminal investigation;" should be                                                                 
changed.  She suggested that "with law enforcement authorities" be                                                              
deleted which provides broader discretion.                                                                                      
MR. HUBER said that he believed the forthcoming CS will include                                                                 
language which reflects when the office was located in the                                                                      
Department of Public Safety.  During that time, the Office of                                                                   
Victims' Rights was allowed to administer grants to nonprofit                                                                   
victims' agencies.  Administering of grants is an executive branch                                                              
function and therefore, that language in the forthcoming CS should                                                              
be eliminated.  This language is located under the "Staff and                                                                   
delegation" section of the Senate Judiciary CS.  There is also                                                                  
corresponding language under the lists of allowable uses of the                                                                 
permanent fund ineligibility dollars which should also be                                                                       
The committee took an at-ease from 6:44 p.m. to 6:54 p.m.                                                                       
Number 0520                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN moved to adopt HCS SB 4, Version K dated                                                                   
5/12/99, as the working document before the committee.  There being                                                             
no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG expressed the need to delete Section 4 in                                                               
its entirety or change the language to refer to the U.S. City                                                                   
Averages CPI.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES preferred deletion of Section 4 in its                                                                     
MR. HUBER reiterated that the language refers to the Violent Crimes                                                             
Compensation Board.  Mr. Huber said that the sponsor would not                                                                  
object to removal of Section 4.                                                                                                 
Number 0618                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG moved to delete Section 4 in its entirety                                                               
in the Version K CS.  There being no objection, Amendment 1 was                                                                 
MR. HUBER directed the committee to page 6, lines 24-25 regarding                                                               
the grant language where subsection (b) would need to be deleted as                                                             
well as paragraph (5) page 13, lines 21-22.  Those are the sections                                                             
which allow the office of victims' rights to receive and administer                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said she so moved Amendment 2.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG objected and inquired as to why this is                                                                 
MR. HUBER explained that, generally, the administering of grants is                                                             
an executive branch function.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG withdrew his objection to Amendment 2.                                                                  
There being no objection, Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                              
Number 0740                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES moved to report HCS CSSB 4 as amended out of                                                               
committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying                                                                  
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG objected.  He announced that he could not                                                               
support this legislation on the floor.  He removed his objection.                                                               
There being no objection, HCS CSSB 4(JUD) was reported out of                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES moved that the committee adjourn.  There being                                                             
no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                                

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