Legislature(2005 - 2006)

05/09/2005 01:22 PM JUD


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to a Call of the Chair --
+= SB 132 HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= SB 137 EVICTING INSTITUTIONAL PROPERTY USERS TELECONFERENCED
Moved HCS SB 137(L&C) Out of Committee
+ SB 172 INITIATIVE/REFERENDUM BALLOT SUMMARY TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ SJR 15 BAN LAWSUITS AGAINST FIREARMS INDUSTRY TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+= SB 20 OFFENSES AGAINST UNBORN CHILDREN TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
SB 137 - EVICTING INSTITUTIONAL PROPERTY USERS                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:09:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be SENATE  BILL NO.  137, "An Act  providing that  an institution                                                               
providing  accommodations  exempt  from  the  provisions  of  the                                                               
Uniform  Residential Landlord  and Tenant  Act may  evict tenants                                                               
without  resorting  to court  proceedings  under  AS 09.45.060  -                                                               
09.45.160."  [Before the committee  was HCS SB 137(L&C); included                                                               
in  members' packets  was a  proposed House  committee substitute                                                               
(HCS) for SB 137, Version 24-LS0739\I, Kurtz, 5/4/05.]                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM began  a motion  to adopt  [one of  the                                                               
bill versions] as a work draft.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE interrupted the motion.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 2:10 p.m. to 2:11 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
JOE  MICHEL,  Staff  to  Senator   Ralph  Seekins,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, sponsor, said  on behalf of Senator  Seekins that SB
137 seeks  to clarify that  institutions [providing  a residence]                                                               
exempted from  Alaska's Uniform  Residential Landlord  and Tenant                                                               
Act  do not  have to  comply  with certain  other statutes  which                                                               
outline actions that  must be taken by  individuals and companies                                                               
currently governed by that Act.   For example, AS 34.03.330(b)(1)                                                               
specifically exempts  residence at an institution,  either public                                                               
or private, if  that residence is incidental to  detention or the                                                               
provision   of  medical,   geriatric,  educational,   counseling,                                                               
religious,  or  similar  services.   The  heightened  protections                                                               
designed for  residential renters, he opined,  are not applicable                                                               
to those obtaining residence at such institutions.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. MICHEL  relayed that the  University of Alaska  asked Senator                                                               
Seekins  to  introduce   SB  137,  and  that   this  request  was                                                               
engendered by  situations in which university  students violating                                                               
the terms of  their student housing contract have  used the court                                                               
system to  stall eviction proceedings.   The  Uniform Residential                                                               
Landlord  and Tenant  Act was  designed  to alleviate  injustices                                                               
inflicted  on  residential  renters   by  private  landlords,  he                                                               
explained,  and  was  taken almost  verbatim  from  the  national                                                               
Uniform  Residential  Landlord And  Tenant  Act  outlined in  the                                                               
federal Fair  Housing Act.  Senate  Bill 137 is meant  to fix the                                                               
discrepancy  between  the  legislative   intent  of  the  state's                                                               
Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant  Act and the recent lower                                                               
court  decision  regarding  the eviction/removal  of  individuals                                                               
residing  in  a  residence  that   is  owned  by  an  institution                                                               
described under AS 34.03.330(b)(1).                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. MICHEL  then read AS  34.03.330(b)(1), and posited  that this                                                               
language means that  a student who has been  expelled from school                                                               
should  not be  able to  insist on  remaining in  student housing                                                               
until a  court order is  obtained.  He offered  his understanding                                                               
that  the university  has put  in place  a "three-strike"  system                                                               
intended to  work with students  residing in  university housing,                                                               
that there is a long review  process, that students have a chance                                                               
to appeal a decision, and  that [eviction and charges of trespass                                                               
constitute]  the   university's  last   line  of  defense.     In                                                               
conclusion,  he   mentioned  that   a  representative   from  the                                                               
university was available for questions.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:15:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said  he has problems with  the bill applying                                                               
in  situations involving  those  who, for  purposes of  geriatric                                                               
care, reside  in a  residence owned  by an  institution providing                                                               
such  services;  therefore  he   prefers  HCS  SB  137(L&C)  over                                                               
Version I.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:15:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MICHEL offered  his  belief that  under  current state  law,                                                               
institutions  providing residence  for the  purpose of  geriatric                                                               
care  [are already  allowed to  evict residents  without a  court                                                               
order] because  those residents  sign contracts  authorizing such                                                               
action;  furthermore,  there  are already  agencies  involved  in                                                               
overseeing the treatment, care, and  placement of seniors in such                                                               
institutions.   He noted that  members' packets  include comments                                                               
by  the National  Conference of  Commissioners  on Uniform  State                                                               
Laws  (NCCUSL)  regarding  its  intent  behind  recommending  the                                                               
language now included in AS  34.03.330(b)(1); those comments read                                                               
in part [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     This   Act  regulates   landlord-tenant  relations   in                                                                    
     residential properties.   It  is not intended  to apply                                                                    
     where  residence  is   incidental  to  another  primary                                                                    
     purpose such as a residence  in a prison, a hospital or                                                                    
     nursing  home,  a dormitory  owned  and  operated by  a                                                                    
     college  or  school,  or   residence  by  a  landlord's                                                                    
     employee  such  as  a   custodian,  janitor,  guard  or                                                                    
     caretaker  rendering service  in or  about the  demised                                                                    
     premises.  This Act is  intended to apply to government                                                                    
     or public agencies acting as landlords ....                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON  noted that the House  Labor and Commerce                                                               
Standing  Committee narrowed  the bill  such that  it would  only                                                               
apply to the university.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MICHEL,  in response  to  a  question, reiterated  that  the                                                               
situation involving the university was  the impetus for the bill,                                                               
and  that it  was the  university that  asked Senator  Seekins to                                                               
introduce  the  legislation.   Though  the  sponsor's intent,  he                                                               
remarked,  is for  the bill  to remain  broad in  its application                                                               
because  the  sponsor  doesn't   want  to  have  certain  private                                                               
institutions being forced  to "hold a bed" for  someone when that                                                               
person could  actually be  receiving services  elsewhere.   If an                                                               
institution  owns   a  residence  for  the   placement  of  those                                                               
partaking of  its services, and  if there  is a violation  of the                                                               
residential  housing contract  signed by  those individuals,  the                                                               
institution should  be able to  remove those  individuals without                                                               
having to go through a court action.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:20:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MICHEL, in response to  comments, reiterated that the sponsor                                                               
prefers a more expansive approach,  and remarked that the sponsor                                                               
views the bill as merely a clarification of existing laws.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE asked  for a  list  of all  the institutions  that                                                               
would be affected by the adoption  of a more expansive version of                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MICHEL,  in  response,  relayed that  according  to  a  word                                                               
search, the word  "geriatric" is only found once in  statute.  He                                                               
then reread portions of AS 34.03.330(b)(1):                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
          (1) residence at an institution, public or                                                                            
     private, if  incidental to  detention or  the provision                                                                    
     of   medical,   geriatric,   educational,   counseling,                                                                    
     religious, or similar services;                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE surmised,  then,  that Mr.  Michel doesn't  really                                                               
know what  specific institutions would  be affected by  a broader                                                               
version of  the bill,  nor all of  its implications,  adding that                                                               
[this  latter point]  is of  concern to  her.   She said  she can                                                               
understand what  is meant  by, and  can support  the use  of, the                                                               
term "University of Alaska", but  not simply the reference to "an                                                               
institution" as  described in AS 34.03.330(b)(1).   She concluded                                                               
by  saying that  she doesn't  want  to make  a mistake  regarding                                                               
taking  away  someone's  legitimate   rights  under  the  Uniform                                                               
Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:23:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GARA   again    expressed   a   preference   for                                                               
HCS SB 137(L&C).                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NORMAN  ROKEBERG,   Alaska  State  Legislature  -                                                               
Member,  House Labor  and Commerce  Standing  Committee -  opined                                                               
that HCS SB  137(L&C) is appropriate in as much  as it limits the                                                               
scope  of  the  application.     Additionally,  HCS  SB  137(L&C)                                                               
maintains the  Alaska Rules of  Civil Procedure; there  are other                                                               
causes of  action, he remarked,  under "unlawful  detainer," that                                                               
may be  prohibited under  a more expansive  version of  the bill,                                                               
adding  that he  doesn't believe  there is  any need  for such  a                                                               
prohibition.   In response  to a  question, he  said he  would be                                                               
willing  to  serve  on  a  conference  committee  should  one  be                                                               
appointed for SB 137.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:25:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said that [the  more expansive version of the                                                               
bill] causes him  alarm, and again reiterated  his preference for                                                               
a bill that applies only to the university.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG offered  his recollection  that the  HCS                                                               
that became  HCS SB 137(L&C)  was brought forth by  the sponsor's                                                               
staff.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDERSON offered  his recollection  that the  HCS                                                               
was brought forth by the sponsor's  staff in an effort to appease                                                               
Representative Rokeberg's concern.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:27:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE, after  ascertaining that  no one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on SB 137.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KOTT,   noting   that  HCS   SB   137(L&C)   was                                                               
automatically  before  the  committee,  moved to  report  HCS  SB
137(L&C) out  of committee  [with individual  recommendations and                                                               
the accompanying  fiscal notes].   There being no  objection, HCS                                                               
SB  137(L&C)  was  reported from  the  House  Judiciary  Standing                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      

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