Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/21/1993 09:05 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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  CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 66(FIN) am                                             
                                                                               
       An Act  relating to an  exemption from and  deferral of                 
       municipal   property   taxes   for    certain   primary                 
       residences, to  property tax  equivalency payments  for                 
       certain  residents, to  the determination  of full  and                 
       true value of  taxable property in a  municipality; and                 
       providing for an effective date.                                        
                                                                               
  Co-chair Pearce directed that CSHB 66 (Fin)am be brought  on                 
  for discussion and referenced a new  draft SCS CSHB 66 (Fin)                 
  (8-GH1032\M, Cook, 4/20/93),  two new fiscal notes  from the                 
  Dept. of Community  and Regional Affairs,  and an April  20,                 
  1993, memorandum from  Tam Cook  regarding the optional  tax                 
  exemption.                                                                   
                                                                               
                                                                               
  RICK SOLIE, aide  to Co-chair Frank, came  before committee.                 
  He advised  of  need for  a technical  amendment.   Co-chair                 
  Frank MOVED for adoption of  the "M" version of SCS  CSHB 66                 
  (Fin).   He explained that the draft contains provisions for                 
  municipalities to opt out of the senior citizens' portion of                 
  the tax exemption but not from the exemption for veterans.                   
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger voiced his understanding that the draft would                 
  prohibit a municipality  from opting out of an exemption for                 
  disabled  veterans.    He  then  requested  clarification of                 
  language at Sec. 5.  Rick  Solie advised that changes within                 
  Sec. 5 allow a municipality to increase the exempted  amount                 
  for disabled veterans.                                                       
                                                                               
  Senator Kelly  suggested  that reference  to  the  municipal                 
  option should  be included within  title language.   He then                 
  MOVED to amend the title as follows:                                         
                                                                               
       Page 1, line 1:                                                         
                                                                               
       Following the word "to" add:  "a municipal option for"                  
                                                                               
  He said that the thrust of the Senate Finance version is the                 
  option,  and  it  should be  so  stated in  the  title.   No                 
  objection  having  been  raised,  the  title  amendment  was                 
  ADOPTED.                                                                     
                                                                               
  CAROLYN BERG came before committee representing "most of the                 
  pioneers in Alaska."   She  stressed that the  state has  an                 
  important  and   legitimate  interest   in  preserving   and                 
  protecting the health of  its senior citizens.  That  cannot                 
  be  done  when  the  existing  senior citizen  property  tax                 
  exemption is posed  for cut off at  a time when health  care                 
  costs  are the  greatest.   Senator  Kelly attested  to Mrs.                 
  Berg's  many  years  of  involvement  in issues  before  the                 
  legislature.   Senator Kerttula  concurred in  need for  the                 
  state to take  the leadership on behalf  of senior citizens.                 
  Narrow-tax-based local communities often cannot provide much                 
  support.   Much of available local resources  are devoted to                 
  schools.   Seniors are a contributing influence by virtue of                 
  expenditure  of their  income.   It would  be an  "incorrect                 
  posture  for  the  state  not  to give  direction  to  local                 
  governments to continue a senior citizen  discount program."                 
  He termed the proposed legislation "a bad bill."                             
                                                                               
  KEN  SWISHER,  Alaska  Municipal League,  next  came  before                 
  committee.  He voiced a preference  for the House version of                 
  the legislation  over the  newly adopted  SCS CSHB  66(Fin).                 
  The House legislation allowed  maximum flexibility to  local                 
  governments to  structure  programs most  fitting the  local                 
  level.   The preferred  option is  for full  funding of  the                 
  exemptions.   Support  for  CSHB 66  (Fin)am  is the  second                 
  choice.                                                                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
  The  Municipal League surveyed  local officials to determine                 
  what  action  might be  taken  should the  legislation pass.                 
  Most agree that the matter will become an issue at the local                 
  level, and some form  of action will be  taken.  The  survey                 
  covered  Anchorage,  Kenai,   Juneau,  MatSu,  Cordova,  and                 
  Valdez.    Referencing the  disabled  veterans  mandate, Mr.                 
  Swisher expressed a preference for municipalities to be able                 
  to consider need.   The needy  should be helped rather  than                 
  those who do  not require assistance.   Assistance to  those                 
  who are  not needy  comes at  the expense  of those  who do.                 
  Preserving seniors in  their homes is  of great value.   The                 
  league supports that effort.  On the other hand, a number of                 
  young families have  difficulty keeping  their children  fed                 
  and  clothed.   Senator Kerttula  spoke to  tax payments  by                 
  seniors over many  years.   He reiterated that  most of  the                 
  support  at the  local  level goes  to  schools.   Taxpayers                 
  continue to support  schools long after their  children have                 
  graduated.   Mandating  the continued  exemption should  not                 
  adversely  impact boroughs.  Senator Kerttula took exception                 
  to   the   position  taken   by   the  league,   terming  it                 
  "intolerable."                                                               
                                                                               
  BRUCE GERAGHTY, Deputy Commissioner,  Dept. of Community and                 
  Regional Affairs, next came before  committee.  He initially                 
  spoke to problems surrounding lack of a disability threshold                 
  for the disabled  veteran exemption  and suggested that  the                 
  committee include language  relating to 50% disability.   At                 
  the present time  there are 703 disabled  veterans who would                 
  qualify  for  the  program.   Of  that  number,  421 are  in                 
  Anchorage.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Mr.  Geraghty expressed  the  department  preference for  an                 
  earlier work draft of the bill,  distributed for review at a                 
  prior  meeting.    That  version allows  municipalities  the                 
  greatest   flexibility   and   maintains   programs   unless                 
  municipalities take action to alter them.                                    
                                                                               
  Discussion  followed  between  Mr.  Geraghty  and  committee                 
  members regarding inclusion of  the 50% disability threshold                 
  in the earlier version  and lack thereof in adopted  version                 
  "M."  Rick Solie clarified the  issue by explaining that the                 
  since the  "M" version  does not  amend "any  aspect of  the                 
  disabled  veterans'  program"  there  was  no need  for  the                 
  definition.   Mr. Geraghty said the department would have no                 
  problem with the bill if the definition remains in law.  Mr.                 
  Solie concurred that it remains in existing statutes.                        
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula noted  that a 10%  disability in youth  may                 
  comprise a much  larger percentage as  one grows older.   He                 
  then  asked  if statutes  contain  a method  of reevaluating                 
  injuries.  Mr. Geraghty   said that the department  does not                 
  determine  disability.   It  is identified  at  the time  of                 
  discharge from the military.   If an adjustment needs  to be                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  made, the issue would be dealt with by the Dept. of Military                 
  and  Veterans'  Affairs.   Co-chair  Pearce  asked  that Mr.                 
  Geraghty   research   the   matter  and   provides   members                 
  information on available avenues.                                            
                                                                               
  Co-chair  Pearce called for additional questions or comments                 
  on the bill.  Senator Kerttula MOVED to TABLE the bill.  Co-                 
  chair Frank OBJECTED.  Co-chair Pearce  called for a show of                 
  hands.  The motion FAILED on a vote of 1 to 5.                               
                                                                               
  Co-chair Frank MOVED for  passage of SCS CSHB 66  (Fin) with                 
  individual recommendations and the appropriate fiscal notes.                 
  Senator Kerttula  OBJECTED.   Co-chair Pearce  called for  a                 
  show of hands.  The motion CARRIED on  a vote of 5 to 1, and                 
  SCS CSHB 66  (Fin) was  REPORTED OUT of  committee with  the                 
  following fiscal notes:                                                      
                                                                               
       DOA                                               0                     
       DOE                                               0                     
       DC&RA (homeowner exemption, seniors)              0                     
       DC&RA (renter rebate, seniors)                    0                     
       DC&RA (homeowner exemption, veterans)        $1,109,520                 
       DC&RA (renter rebate, veterans)              $  162,294                 
                                                                               
  Co-chairs Pearce  and Frank  and Senators  Rieger and  Sharp                 
  signed the committee report with a "do pass" recommendation.                 
  Senator Kelly signed "do pass as amended."  Senator Kerttula                 
  signed "do not  pass."  (Senator  Jacko was absent from  the                 
  meeting and did not sign.)                                                   
                                                                               
  RECESS                                                                       
                                                                               
  Co-chair Pearce  directed that  the meeting  be recessed  at                 
  this time, and scheduled  to reconvene later in the  day for                 
  continued hearing  and action on  SB 7, SB  88, and  SB 150.                 
  The meeting was recessed at approximately 11:00 a.m.                         
                                                                               

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