Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

02/18/2014 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 2/13/14>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         HB 273-EXTENDING COUNCIL ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE                                                                      
9:27:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN announced  the final order of business  was HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO. 273,  "An Act extending  the termination date of  the Council                                                               
on Domestic  Violence and  Sexual Assault;  and providing  for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
9:28:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LINDSEY  HOLMES,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  as                                                               
prime  sponsor,  presented  HB  273.     She  said  the  proposed                                                               
legislation  would extend  the Council  on Domestic  Violence and                                                               
Sexual Assault (CDVSA) for the  eight years that were recommended                                                               
in the  legislative audit.   She reviewed  that Alaska  leads the                                                               
nation in  sexual abuse and  domestic violence and that  CDVSA is                                                               
the entity  that is  charged with addressing  this problem.   She                                                               
said the council  was created in 1981, and since  then has served                                                               
Alaskans by funding and monitoring  domestic violence and assault                                                               
programs  and  prevention  activities.    She  related  that  the                                                               
council  not  only  provides training,  outreach,  and  statewide                                                               
public  information programs,  but it  also acts  as the  state's                                                               
grant-making arm and coordinator for statewide efforts.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES said the statutory mandate is:                                                                            
     To provide  for planning  and coordination  of services                                                                    
     to victims  of domestic violence and  sexual assault or                                                                    
     to  their  families  and to  perpetrators  of  domestic                                                                    
     violence and sexual assault, and  to provide for crisis                                                                    
     intervention and prevention programs.                                                                                      
9:29:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  listed the following primary  functions of                                                               
CDVSA:   to  develop, implement,  maintain, and  monitor domestic                                                               
violence, sexual assault, and  crisis intervention and prevention                                                               
programs,  in  coordination  with  authorities in  the  field  of                                                               
domestic violence  and sexual  assault; to  break down  "silos in                                                               
this  area" and  coordinate  services between  the Department  of                                                               
Public Safety (DPS), the Department  of Law (DOL), the Department                                                               
of  Education &  Early Development  (DEED), Department  of Health                                                               
and Social Services (DHSS), the  Department of Corrections (DOC),                                                               
and other agencies; to oversee,  monitor, coordinate and dispense                                                               
funds for  existing and expanding  services and programs  to meet                                                               
domestic  violence   and  sexual  assault  victims;   to  provide                                                               
technical  assistance to  programs around  the state;  to consult                                                               
with public  employers and  other agencies  that are  required to                                                               
provide continuing education programs;  and to consult with other                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  said there  has been much  discussion over                                                               
the  years regarding  the  role of  the council.    In 2006,  the                                                               
legislature established a task force,  on which she served, which                                                               
came up  with 26  recommendations.   Some of  the recommendations                                                               
were made into  statute.  All but two of  the rest, she reported,                                                               
were   fully  addressed   by  the   council.     The  final   two                                                               
recommendations relate  to batterers  intervention, and  she said                                                               
the council  has been working  diligently to address those.   She                                                               
said the Division of Legislative  Audit had three recommendations                                                               
for the  council.  The  council has completely complied  with two                                                               
of them,  which were  to implement  written procedures  to ensure                                                               
that public notices are posted in  a timely manner and to improve                                                               
grant  reward  and  monitoring  policies  and  procedures.    The                                                               
council has taken steps to  comply with the third recommendation,                                                               
which  was to  work with  DHSS  to ensure  that people  providing                                                               
services are "fully  up to speed" on how to  address the needs of                                                               
victims of domestic violence and sexual  assault.  She said it is                                                               
actually   the  department's   responsibility  to   create  those                                                               
procedures;  the  council has  made  efforts  over the  last  few                                                               
months to fulfill their role in working with the department.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES stated  that in light of  the "mighty task"                                                               
in front  of CDVSA and  the fact that  the council has  been very                                                               
responsive  over  the years,  she  would  urge the  committee  to                                                               
approve the eight-year sunset extension proposed under HB 273.                                                                  
9:32:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER asked if  the council's membership includes                                                               
someone from  DOC, so  that that  department has  input regarding                                                               
the transition  of people coming  out of prison and  the training                                                               
and counseling involved.                                                                                                        
9:33:07 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  answered yes,  in response  to one  of the                                                               
aforementioned 26 recommendations, one  of the council's seats is                                                               
now filled  by either the  commissioner or  commissioner designee                                                               
of DOC.                                                                                                                         
9:33:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   ISAACSON  thanked   Representative  Holmes   for                                                               
bringing HB 273 forward.  He  said he does not think anyone would                                                               
doubt the need for the council,  but he questioned what steps are                                                               
being taken to  ensure that the money allotted to  CDVSA is being                                                               
used for the purposes intended.                                                                                                 
9:33:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  responded  that there  are  standards  in                                                               
place.  For  example, she said forms have  been standardized, and                                                               
there is  a method  by which  the content  in forms  submitted by                                                               
grantees  is  checked  for  accuracy.   She  deferred  to  Lauree                                                               
Morton, the executive director of CDVSA for further information.                                                                
9:35:52 AM                                                                                                                    
KRIS  CURTIS, Legislative  Auditor,  Legislative Audit  Division,                                                               
Legislative Affairs  Agency, presented a sunset  review of CDVSA,                                                               
dated May 21, 2013.  She said  the purpose of any sunset audit is                                                               
to determine  if a council, or  any other entity, is  serving the                                                               
public's  interest, and  whether its  termination date  should be                                                               
extended.  She  said the division's audit report  also provides a                                                               
summary  of  the  council's  organization  and  function,  and  a                                                               
description  of  its  funding  sources.     She  said  the  audit                                                               
concluded that  the council is  serving the public's  interest by                                                               
funding  and  monitoring  Alaskan domestic  violence  and  sexual                                                               
assault programs  and prevention response activities.   The audit                                                               
also found  that the  council effectively  served as  the central                                                               
coordinator  for  related services  throughout  the  state.   She                                                               
reported  that the  Legislative  Audit  Division recommended  the                                                               
maximum extension allowed in statute, which is eight years.                                                                     
9:36:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ISAACSON asked  Ms.  Curtis if  she foresees  any                                                               
problems related to a misuse of funds.                                                                                          
MS. CURTIS  responded that the  audit found that the  council has                                                               
controls  in place,  such as  the aforementioned  forms; however,                                                               
the problem was that the  forms were not being used consistently,                                                               
which she  said is a  much easier problem  to address.   She said                                                               
the cause of the recommendation was  staff turnover and a lack of                                                               
procedures.  She  said she cannot say what the  current state is,                                                               
since the  audit was  done in  the spring  of 2013;  however, she                                                               
reiterated  that  the  division   does  consider  "that  type  of                                                               
recommendation much easier to address."                                                                                         
9:38:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES asked if the  council takes steps to ensure                                                               
the  effective  use  of  the funds  given  to  nonprofit  groups.                                                               
Further, she asked what amount  "is being spent on these programs                                                               
on an annual basis."                                                                                                            
9:39:22 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. CURTIS  directed attention to  a schedule  on page 16  of the                                                               
audit,  [included  in  the  committee   packet],  which  shows  a                                                               
schedule of funding sources and  expenditures.  She said it shows                                                               
that  in fiscal  year 2012  (FY  12), the  council granted  $12.7                                                               
million in  awards.  There  is an  appendix to the  report, which                                                               
shows who  received the money  in the  account and how  much they                                                               
received.   In  general,  she reported,  the  council funded  the                                                               
following:    20  community-based   victim  service  programs,  6                                                               
community-based batterers' intervention  programs, 3 prison-based                                                               
batterers' intervention programs, and  13 other related programs.                                                               
She said  the audit  found that there  was some  inconsistency in                                                               
the  council's  monitoring  files  - they  did  not  always  have                                                               
evidence  of follow-up  on  some  of their  findings  - and  that                                                               
contributed to the recommendation.                                                                                              
9:40:48 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES indicated  that  her  question stems  from                                                               
feedback she  has received from her  constituents regarding their                                                               
concern  about  the  accountability of  non-profit  organizations                                                               
that receive state funds.                                                                                                       
9:41:09 AM                                                                                                                    
LAUREE MORTON,  Executive Director, Council on  Domestic Violence                                                               
and Sexual  Assault (CDVSA),  reported that  over the  past year,                                                               
there  were over  9,330  people who  sought  assistance from  the                                                               
funded programs.  She continued as follows:                                                                                     
     About  75  percent  of them  was  related  to  domestic                                                                    
     violence, about  20 percent related to  sexual assault,                                                                    
     3 percent  to stalking, and  about 30 percent  to other                                                                    
     violent crime victims.                                                                                                     
MS. MORTON said the council  receives a federal grant through the                                                               
Victims of  Crime Act  (VOCA), which allows  the council  to fund                                                               
services for victims of other violent  crimes.  She said about 68                                                               
percent of the  people who sought services were adults  - of whom                                                               
79 percent  were women  and 17  percent were men  - and  about 28                                                               
percent were  children.   She indicated that  4 percent  of those                                                               
who  applied did  not  note age  or  sex.   Ms.  Morton said  the                                                               
programs are  generally supported in the  respective communities;                                                               
in the  past year  there were over  3,000 volunteers  who donated                                                               
over 78,000 hours of service.                                                                                                   
MS.  MORTON  reported  that  there  were  262  intakes  into  the                                                               
council-funded batterers'  programs last  year and 84  people who                                                               
completed the programs.   She said the  task force recommendation                                                               
still outstanding  has to do with  the programs.  She  said since                                                               
assuming her executive  director role two years  ago, the council                                                               
has  been  diligently  working  on  its  batterer's  intervention                                                               
programs.   She said current  regulations narrowly define  what a                                                               
program  can look  like.   Back when  the regulations  were first                                                               
instituted  in  the   mid  '90s,  there  was   only  one  program                                                               
available,  which  was  crafted  from  "the  Duluth  model"  from                                                               
Minnesota.   Over the  years, she said,  programs have  been made                                                               
more  effective  by  being customized  through  consideration  of                                                               
factors  including  a  person's   age,  lethality,  and  cultural                                                               
affiliation.   She explained that  the council is in  a year-long                                                               
process  of  revising the  regulations  and  has entered  into  a                                                               
memorandum of agreement (MOA) with DOC  to take that task on, and                                                               
the council will  be reviewing the first draft  of regulations at                                                               
its meeting the end of this month.                                                                                              
9:44:18 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. MORTON said the council  also has a research component funded                                                               
through the  governor's initiative, which looks  at the statewide                                                               
population.    She  said  the  Alaska  victimization  survey  was                                                               
conducted  in  2010,  and she  reported  that  unfortunately,  58                                                               
percent of  adult women in  Alaska have been  sexually assaulted,                                                               
suffered domestic violence, or both.   She said the council plans                                                               
to repeat  that survey in 2015  and, while it does  not expect to                                                               
see the "lifetime  number" to change in five years,  it does hope                                                               
to see the start of "down-trending" in the past year.                                                                           
MS. MORTON said the council has  also put together a composite of                                                               
almost every  statistic in the state  regarding domestic violence                                                               
and sexual  assault, which is  called "the dashboard."   She said                                                               
it shows  about 36  different items  on the  dashboard, including                                                               
child abuse, elder  abuse, how crimes are reported,  the rates of                                                               
reports,  how many  incidents are  accepted for  prosecution, and                                                               
how many of those are successfully prosecuted.                                                                                  
MS. MORTON said the council also  has an evaluation of one of the                                                               
state's  significant  primary  prevention  activities,  which  is                                                               
conducted through the  school system and called,  "The Fourth R."                                                               
She  explained that  added  to the  first  three "Rs,"  [Reading,                                                               
wRiting, and aRithmetic],  the fourth "R" is  Relationships.  She                                                               
indicated that  the program has  been in place for  grades seven,                                                               
eight, and nine,  and has existed for three years.   She said the                                                               
program  has gone  through  an institutional  review  board at  a                                                               
college  level  and  there are  intervention  schools  where  the                                                               
program is  being actively used,  as well  as a control  group of                                                               
schools, where  it is not  being implemented.   The intent  is to                                                               
have the final result at the  end of this summer, and the council                                                               
hopes that  The Fourth R  will show  an effect on  young people's                                                               
ability to enter into respectful and nonviolent relationships.                                                                  
9:46:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MORTON   relayed  that   the  council   coordinates  several                                                               
activities  around state,  including:    sexual assault  response                                                               
team  training for  communities and  the justice  system to  help                                                               
people  protect themselves  from re-victimization.   She  said it                                                               
brings together  advocates, health  care, and law  enforcement to                                                               
create  a seamless  system for  the victim  who comes  forward to                                                               
report  an assault.   She  said the  council also  has a  federal                                                               
program  called,  "Services  Training Officers  and  Prosecutors"                                                               
(STOP), which uses  federal funding to train  first responders to                                                               
domestic violence and  sexual assault.  She said  the council has                                                               
implemented several  prevention activities,  particularly through                                                               
the governor's initiative.  One  of them is called, Coaching Boys                                                               
Into Men,  where coaches talk  to boys  about how to  treat their                                                               
dating partners and the adult  women in their lives with respect.                                                               
The theory  is that  coaches are natural  leaders in  schools and                                                               
can be roles models.                                                                                                            
9:48:26 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. MORTON,  in response to Representative  Isaacson's previously                                                               
stated concern  about ineligible groups possibly  getting funded,                                                               
said the council has a  request for proposal (RFP) process, which                                                               
is open every two years in a  grant cycle.  She said any eligible                                                               
entity can  apply, and  there are  standards and  regulations, by                                                               
which the council judges those  applications to determine whether                                                               
the applicants  qualify.  The  council makes the awards  and then                                                               
it  is "up  to  the staff  to ensure  that  they are  implemented                                                               
correctly  and that  the funds  are  being properly  used."   She                                                               
surmised  Representative  Isaacson may  have  read  in the  audit                                                               
something that  was "not  a failure  in the  practical day-to-day                                                               
matter of making  sure that it was happening," but  "a failure in                                                               
correctly ensuring  all the  paperwork was done."   She  said the                                                               
council has instituted  ways to ensure that this  does not happen                                                               
anymore:  program  coordinators meet on a quarterly  basis with a                                                               
checklist of everything  in the files.  She said  there is also a                                                               
routine business  practice for  on-sight evaluation  files, where                                                               
they are  checked for  accuracy and  completeness, and  she signs                                                               
off on them.                                                                                                                    
9:50:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON  concluded that  the council  is ensuring                                                               
and approving  eligibility and monitoring  where funds  are going                                                               
to make certain they are being used properly.                                                                                   
[MS. MORTON nodded.]                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  ISAACSON  asked  Ms.  Morton to  talk  about  the                                                               
success that the council has seen.                                                                                              
9:51:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MORTON said  she  thinks  the council  has  moved away  from                                                               
looking at programs  and their outputs to  asking questions about                                                               
the quality  of services provided,  such as  ascertaining whether                                                               
the people in the programs  are safer, know about more resources,                                                               
and are better  able to enter into the justice  system.  She said                                                               
there is a  list of seven outcome measure questions  in the short                                                               
term that  the council started  asking last year to  determine if                                                               
there are  ways to  improve services  to victims.   She  said the                                                               
council is  also looking for intervention  programs for batterers                                                               
as part  of the  regulation revision  - "a  way to  think through                                                               
outcome measures and performance measures."   She said she thinks                                                               
it is  "a little more  than recidivism."   She mentioned  "a high                                                               
mark to  get back into the  justice system" and figuring  out why                                                               
patterns of behavior  are actually changing.   She ventured there                                                               
is more of  a willingness to acknowledge problems  and talk about                                                               
them, and,  as communities,  look for ways  to stop  violence and                                                               
sexual assault.   She said she  started this work in  1984, moved                                                               
to  Alaska in  1989,  where  she worked  in  a  crisis center  in                                                               
Bethel,  Alaska, for  five years  before moving  to Juneau.   She                                                               
said there  is "a  distinct difference in  the air"  where people                                                               
are saying they  do not want sexual assault  or domestic violence                                                               
to happen in Alaska any more.                                                                                                   
9:53:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   ISAACSON  said   he  interpreted   Ms.  Morton's                                                               
testimony as  meaning that the  very presence of the  council and                                                               
its perpetual focus on the  issues is helping to bring awareness,                                                               
and that awareness is bringing people  to a place where they want                                                               
to put a stop to [sexual assault and domestic violence].                                                                        
MS. MORTON confirmed that is correct.                                                                                           
9:53:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES thanked  Ms.  Morton for  her  work.   She                                                               
indicated  that after  hearing the  statistics  presented by  Ms.                                                               
Morton, she  thinks Alaska  has a  long way  to go;  however, she                                                               
said the  headway that has  been made  is encouraging.   She said                                                               
she thinks  drugs and alcohol are  key issues, and she  asked Ms.                                                               
Morton  to  talk about  how  the  council  is making  headway  by                                                               
addressing them.                                                                                                                
MS.  MORTON said  there  is a  program  called, "Sisters,"  which                                                               
helps  women who  enter  into programs  who  also have  substance                                                               
abuse issues to  coordinate efforts with a  local substance abuse                                                               
program to  give the  women an opportunity  to work  toward their                                                               
sobriety.   It also  helps with  childcare.   She said  not every                                                               
program in the state is able to  provide that source, but it is a                                                               
model  in the  state being  looked at  by the  council.   Another                                                               
program  just  started   this  past  year,  she   related,  is  a                                                               
cooperative  agreement with  the Division  of Behavioral  Health,                                                               
wherein victims  who come to  the council's programs and  have an                                                               
identified  mental health  need are  able to  access 10  sessions                                                               
with  behavioral  health  staff  that have  received  a  specific                                                               
amount  of   "trauma-informed  care  training."     In  terms  of                                                               
prevention, she  said one thing  she has recently asked  staff to                                                               
do  is   to  work  with   the  various   prevention  coordinators                                                               
throughout  the administration  that  deal  with sexual  assault,                                                               
domestic violence,  substance abuse,  and mental  health, suicide                                                               
prevention, to  identify where  there may  be common  concerns in                                                               
order to  work better together.   She expressed her hope  that in                                                               
the next couple of months,  the council will produce an agreement                                                               
of  overarching  strategies  in  the  state and  a  list  of  how                                                               
individual programs feed into that.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES  emphasized  her belief  that  people  are                                                               
medicating mental health issues  with substance abuse, which then                                                               
leads to domestic  violence and sexual abuse.   She surmised that                                                               
many assaults are  happening when people are  under the influence                                                               
[of  drugs and/or  alcohol].   She  expressed her  hope that  the                                                               
council  will  consider  mental  health first  aid  as  it  moves                                                               
9:58:06 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN asked Ms. Morton  to restate the percentage of victims                                                               
that are men.                                                                                                                   
MS. MORTON  answered about 17  percent of those in  the council's                                                               
programs last year were men.                                                                                                    
CHAIR  LYNN,  after  ascertaining  that no  one  else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 273.                                                                                     
9:58:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER thanked Ms. Morton for her work.                                                                          
CHAIR LYNN echoed Representative Keller's thanks.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  indicated  that  as a  result  of  Alaska                                                               
becoming  firm  on  the  issue   of  sexual  abuse  and  domestic                                                               
violence, there are  more people in correctional  facilities.  He                                                               
said he  has heard from  constituents that even though  the court                                                               
orders counseling, training,  and programs, "nothing's available,                                                               
at least at one of the  institutions."  He indicated that letting                                                               
perpetrators  [who have  served  their sentences]  out of  prison                                                               
[without  having   had  counseling]  would  result   in  repeated                                                               
offenses and an  increased problem.  He asked the  council to pay                                                               
attention to that.  He  noted that Deputy Commissioner Ron Taylor                                                               
is interested in and has ideas related to this issue.                                                                           
10:00:02 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  moved to  report HB  273 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.  There being no objection,  HB 273 was reported out of the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 HB 212 v.N.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 212
02 HB 212 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 212
03 HB 212 Sectional.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 212
04 HB 212 Fiscal Note.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 212
05 HB212 Supporting Docs.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 212
06 HB 212 Supporting Letter.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 212
07 HB 212 Supporting Letter2.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 212
08 HB 212 Supporting Letter3.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 212
09 HB 212 Supporting Letter4.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 212
10 HB 212 Supporting Letter5.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 212
01 HB 273.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 273
02 HB 273 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 273
03 HB273 Leg Audit for CDVSA.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 273
04 CDVSA Letter of Support HB273.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 273
05 fiscalNote DPS HB273.pdf HSTA 2/18/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 273