Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/22/1997 05:00 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                         MINUTES{PRIVATE }                                   
                     SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                
                           22 April 1997                                     
                             5:00 p.m.                                       
                                                                             
TAPES                                                                      
                                                                             
SFC-97, Tap 122, Sides A and B                                                 
                                                                               
[NOTE:  The first part  of the  meeting on  Side A  of Tape  122 is            
double-recorded or  corroded, as well as  most of Side B;  parts of            
the meeting are difficult to distinguish accurately.]                          
                                                                               
                                                                               
CALL TO ORDER                                                              
                                                                               
Senator   Bert   Sharp,   Co-chair,   convened   the   meeting   at            
approximately 5:00 p.m.                                                        
                                                                               
                                                                               
PRESENT                                                                    
                                                                               
In   addition  to   Co-chair  Sharp,   Senators  Pearce,   Parnell,            
Torgerson, Phillips, Donley, and Adams were present.                           
                                                                               
                                                                               
ALSO ATTENDING:                                                              
                                                                               
Tuckerman  Babcock, Staff,  Senator  Lyda Green,  Sponsor;  Senator            
Lyda Green;  Dean Guaneli,  Department of  Law; Senator Tim  Kelly;            
Marianne  Burke, Director,  Division  of Insurance,  Department  of            
Commerce and Economic Development.                                             
                                                                               
                                                                               
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                        
                                                                               
SB 104    OMNIBUS INSURANCE REFORM                                             
                                                                               
          CSSB  104(FIN)  was REPORTED  out of  committee with  "no            
          recommendation"  and  fiscal note  by  the Department  of            
          Revenue  and  zero  impact  note  by  the  Department  of            
          Commerce and Economic Development.                                   
                                                                               
SB 141    CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITS/FIREARM POSSESS                            
                                                                               
          CSSB  141 (FIN)  was REPORTED out  of committee  with "no            
          recommendation"  and previously published  fiscal note by            
          the   Department   of   Public  Safety   and   previously            
          published  zero impact note  by the Department  of Public            
          Safety.                                                              
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 141                                                          
                                                                             
     "An Act relating to permits to carry concealed handguns; and              
     relating to the possession of firearms."                                  
                                                                               
Co-chair Sharp provided history of the bill in committee.                      
                                                                               
Senator Phillips MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 1.                                   
                                                                               
Co-chair Sharp OBJECTED for discussion.                                        
                                                                               
Senator Phillips explained that  under current law, a homeowner had            
to post  a sign on  their property  warning that concealed  weapons            
were not  allowed in  the home  or on the  property. The  amendment            
would delete  the requirement  of the homeowner  to post  the sign.            
Instead,  the  person  carrying   the  concealed  weapon  would  be            
required  to  notify  the  homeowner  of the  weapon  and  ask  for            
permission to enter.                                                           
                                                                               
Senator  Parnell   opined  that  the  amendment  went   beyond  the            
description offered  and the intent of the sponsor.  Co-chair Sharp            
explained the amendment.                                                       
                                                                               
The OBJECTION was MAINTAINED.                                                  
                                                                               
A roll call was taken on the motion.                                           
                                                                               
IN FAVOR: Adams, Phillips, Pearce, Sharp                                       
                                                                               
OPPOSED: Torgerson, Parnell, Donley                                            
                                                                               
The motion PASSED (4/3). Amendment 1 was adopted.                              
                                                                               
Co-chair Sharp noted that Amendment 2 would not be offered.                    
                                                                               
Senator Adams MOVED to ADPOPT Amendment 3.                                     
                                                                               
Senator Adams explained  that the amendment would  clearly describe            
the penalty and avoid a double standard.                                       
                                                                               
Senator  Pearce  OBJECTED  to  the  amendment,  which  she  thought            
changed the intent of the bill.                                                
                                                                               
Senator Adams questioned restrictions.                                         
                                                                               
TUCKERMAN BABCOCK,  STAFF, SENATOR  LYDA GREEN, SPONSOR,  explained            
that  Amendment 3  would extend  gun control  by restricting  where            
people could go with open or concealed  weapons. He stated that the            
sponsor wanted  people who  committed a  Class A misdemeanor  after            
getting the  permit to lose  the right  to get another  permit ever            
again.  He  pointed  to Section  18.65.740(a)(2).  He  stated  that            
Senator Green proposed  an amendment to version X of  the bill that            
would   delete  (Section   17,   page  8)   the   repealer  of   AS            
18.65.749(a)(2). Anyone  who committed a Class A  misdemeanor after            
a conviction would  lose the right to carry a  concealed weapon. He            
pointed to  a March  24 memo  to the committee  from legal  counsel            
listing who  could not carry. He  noted that the amendment  did not            
deal  with who  could  carry but  where a  person  could carry.  He            
agreed  that the  provision would  be more  appropriate to  another            
piece of legislation.                                                          
                                                                               
In  response  to  a  question   by  Senator  Parnell,  Mr.  Babcock            
responded that  the current  situation in Alaska  law was  that the            
court  system   had  interpreted   the  constitutional   provisions            
allowing the court  system to control firearms in  court houses and            
had an administrative order to that effect.                                    
                                                                               
Senator Parnell  asked what a person  caught in a  courthouse would            
be prosecuted under. Mr. Babcock did not know.                                 
                                                                               
DEAN  GUANELI, DEPARTMENT  OF LAW,  testified that  there were  two            
possibilities  for   dealing  with  a  gun  in   a  courtroom.  One            
possibility was that a person could  be arrested and prosecuted for            
criminal  trespass if  the person  was told to  leave and  refused.            
More commonly,  a judge who saw  a gun in a courtroom  would simply            
hold the person in contempt of  court, and use the contempt powers.            
He referred  to a case that went  to the Alaska Supreme  Court over            
twenty years  prior involving  a person who  came into  a courtroom            
with a  gun; the judge  held the person  in contempt of  court, and            
established  the inherent  power to control  the courtroom  through            
contempt powers.                                                               
                                                                               
Senator Parnell  asked whether  the state could proscribe  carrying            
weapons in  state offices. Mr.  Babcock replied that  under current            
law, anyone could carry openly in state office buildings.                      
                                                                               
Senator Parnell questioned whether  the state had the power to post            
a particular building  against carrying open or  concealed weapons.            
Mr. Babcock  replied that  the legislature  had never provided  the            
state with the  authority for open carry; only  permitted concealed            
carry was banned under current law.                                            
                                                                               
Mr.  Guaneli reported  that  an opinion  had  been  written by  the            
attorney  general several  years prior regarding  the authority  to            
post  signs  and  prohibit  certain  activity,  including  carrying            
concealed weapons. He  added that the opinion of  the Department of            
Law  was that  anyone  could  post a  sign  in a  public  building,            
including the state.  In a building open to the  public, however, a            
posted sign  was not effective  to prosecute someone  with criminal            
trespass. The  person would have to  go into the building,  be told            
to leave,  and refuse to leave.  The mere posting of the  sign gave            
people notice  that they were not  supposed to be there,  but would            
not  allow  them  to  be  arrested.   The  posted  sign  would  not            
effectively prohibit a person from carrying weapons.                           
                                                                               
Senator  Parnell  asked  whether buildings  were  currently  posted            
against  carrying open  or concealed  weapons. He  referred to  the            
distinction  made  by  the  sponsor   between  open  and  concealed            
weapons. Mr. Guaneli did not believe  buildings were posted at that            
time.  He  pointed  out  that  each  building  manager  dealt  with            
security problems as  they arose; if they saw  someone walking into            
a building  with a  gun, they  would call  the security guard.  The            
fear was not knowing when someone was carrying a concealed weapon.             
                                                                               
Senator  Parnell  asked  what facilities  providing  protection  to            
victims of domestic violence or  sexual assault could do to prevent            
open or  concealed weapons from  being brought into a  shelter. Mr.            
Babcock replied that the shelter  would be able to post a sign that            
would  apply equally  to carrying  open or  concealed weapons.  The            
sign could  advise people that it  would be a violation  of the law            
to enter the premises and that  a person refusing to leave would be            
criminally  trespassing. He  did  not know  whether  such a  person            
would be prosecuted as a Class A or a Class B misdemeanor.                     
                                                                               
Mr. Guaneli  noted that domestic  violence facilities  were private            
and not generally open to the  public. The posting of the sign in a            
private facility was  enough in and of itself to  allow a person to            
be charged  with an offense; it  was not technically  required that            
the  person be  told to  leave and  then  refuse to  leave, as  was            
required in public buildings.                                                  
                                                                               
SENATOR  LYDA  GREEN,  SPONSOR,   wanted  to  redirect  focus.  She            
maintained that the legislation was about permitting and permit-               
holders. She did not think it  mattered what was posted or what the            
law was.  She thought a  person who  was determined to  do mischief            
would not get a permit, would  not ask permission, and would not be            
concerned  about a sign  on a  building. The  bill was intended  to            
focus on people  who felt they needed personal  protection in their            
daily lives.                                                                   
                                                                               
Senator Parnell asked  what weapons were allowed or  not allowed on            
a school bus,  and queried the applicable provision;  he pointed to            
the mention of  school buses in the amendment. Mr.  Babcock did not            
know  the purpose  of the  restriction.  He stated  that on  school            
grounds  and  in schools,  the  written  permission of  the  school            
administrator  was required  for adults.  Children going to  school            
did not need  permission if they  were in a shooting or  rifle club            
at school.                                                                     
                                                                               
Senator   Phillips  queried   federal  or   state  laws   regarding            
prohibition against a permit holder  possessing a concealed weapon,            
especially   regarding  where.   Mr.  Babcock   replied  that   the            
Department  of Public  Safety was  trying  to acquire  the list  of            
federal restrictions.  He listed  the places  he was familiar  with            
[where a person  could not carry concealed]: all  federal buildings            
and  buildings  in  which there  were  federal  offices,  airports,            
correction  facilities,   state  and  federal   courthouses,  state            
correctional facilities,  and school grounds. He also  included any            
private entity that wished to post a sign forbidding firearms.                 
                                                                               
Senator  Phillips  concluded  that  the  repealer  was  essentially            
covered  by federal  law. Mr. Babcock  agreed  that it was  covered            
either by  federal law, or  by Mr. Guaneli's  explanation of  how a            
state  office could  post, or by  criminal trespass  for a  private            
building.  He stated  that the  purpose of  the bill  was to  treat            
people who were permitted the same way as people who carry openly.             
                                                                               
The OBJECTION to Amendment 3 was MAINTAINED.                                   
                                                                               
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                      
                                                                               
IN FAVOR: Adams, Phillips                                                      
                                                                               
OPPOSED: Donley, Torgerson, Parnell, Pearce, Sharp                             
                                                                               
The motion FAILED (5/2). Amendment 3 was not adopted.                          
                                                                               
Senator  Donley MOVED  to  ADOPT Amendment  4,  to delete  language            
pertaining to  the repealer, on  page 8, line  6 [18.65.740(a)(2)].            
He  explained that  the deleted  portion stipulated  that a  person            
getting  a  misdemeanor  after  getting  a permit  would  lose  the            
permit:   the  "permit  to   carry  concealed   handgun  shall   be            
immediately  revoked  by  the  department  when  the  permittee  is            
convicted  of two  Class A misdemeanors  of this  state or  similar            
laws of another jurisdiction within  a five-year period if at least            
one of the convictions occurs after".                                          
                                                                               
Co-chair  Sharp queried  Class A  misdemeanors, and  was told  that            
examples included drunk driving,  fourth-degree assaults (generally            
without a weapon), a number of  drug offenses (including possession            
of  more  than  one-half  pound   of  marijuana),  and  some  theft            
offenses.  He  noted  that it  was  the  general  misdemeanor-level            
offense that applied to a wide range of conduct.                               
                                                                               
There being no OBJECTION, Amendment 4 was adopted.                             
                                                                               
Senator  Donley queried  treatment  of offenders  with  misdemeanor            
offenses  involving   violent  conduct.  Senator   Green  responded            
[unintelligible].                                                              
                                                                               
Senator  Pearce MOVED  to REPORT  CSSB 141 (FIN)  out of  committee            
with individual recommendations  and the accompanying  fiscal note.            
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                   
                                                                               
CSSB   141  (FIN)   was  REPORTED   out  of   committee  with   "no            
recommendation"  and  previously   published  fiscal  note  by  the            
Department of  Public Safety and  previously published  zero impact            
note by the Department of Public Safety.                                       
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 104                                                          
                                                                             
     "An  Act relating to  regulation and  examination of  insurers            
     and  insurance   agents;  relating  to  kinds   of  insurance;            
     relating  to  payment  of  insurance  taxes  and  to  required            
     insurance reserves;  relating to insurance policies;  relating            
     to  regulation   of  capital,  surplus,  and   investments  by            
     insurers;   relating   to   hospital   and   medical   service            
     corporations;  relating  to the portability  and  availability            
     of health care  insurance; making amendments  to the insurance            
     statutes to  conform to federal requirements  regarding health            
     insurance;  relating to the  repeal of certain small  employer            
     health  care insurance  provisions;  requiring that  uninsured            
     and underinsured  motor vehicle  insurance apply to  claims of            
     an  insured even  if other  policy limits  are not  exhausted;            
     repealing delayed  provisions relating to dental,  vision, and            
     hearing  insurance  in  secs. 3  and  4,  ch. 101,  SLA  1992;            
     repealing  delayed  provisions   relating  to  small  employer            
     health care  insurance in secs.  4, 7, 9, and 12, ch.  39, SLA            
     1993;  repealing the  delayed effective  date  in sec. 5,  ch.            
     101,  SLA  1992,  and  in  sec.  13, ch.  39,  SLA  1993;  and            
     providing for an effective date."                                         
                                                                               
Co-chair Sharp provided a history of the bill in committee.                    
                                                                               
Senator Donley MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 1.                                     
                                                                               
There was an OBJECTION for discussion.                                         
                                                                               
Senator  Donley explained  that cases  in other  states had  raised            
potential problems related to rental  car insurance; the purpose of            
the  amendment  was  to prevent  litigation.  The  amendment  would            
clarify the hierarchy of claims  when a rental car was damaged. The            
first  place  a  claim  would go  would  be  the  collision  policy            
purchased when  someone rented a  car and purchased  collision; the            
second  place would  be the  operator  of the  car, if  they had  a            
policy;  the third  place  would  be the  owner  of the  rental-car            
company.  Most  people  believed   the  listed  order  was  already            
required in current  law, but litigation in other  states had shown            
that the claim order was not always clear.                                     
                                                                               
Senator  Donley  informed  the  committee  that  he  had  sponsored            
language in existing law eight  years prior that stipulated that an            
auto insurance policy  in Alaska required coverage  of rental cars.            
The amendment was consistent with  the original language to prevent            
litigation.                                                                    
                                                                               
Senator Torgerson  asked why  Canada was  listed in the  provision.            
Senator Donley answered that the language was in existing law.                 
                                                                               
In  response  to  a question  by  Co-chair  Sharp,  Senator  Donley            
explained how  the legislation  would work: If  a person  renting a            
car bought  a collision waiver,  the collision policy would  be the            
first  thing covering  damage  costs. If  a  person did  not buy  a            
collision waiver,  and the person's  auto insurance  covered rental            
cars, then  that would be the next  in line. The person  who rented            
the car out would be responsible  if the renting person had neither            
of the first two options.                                                      
                                                                               
Co-chair Sharp summarized that the  person who owned the rental car            
would  be  liable  if  the  person renting  the  car  did  not  buy            
additional coverage and did not  have it themselves. Senator Donley            
agreed.                                                                        
                                                                               
[SFC-97, Tape 122, Side B]                                                     
                                                                               
Senator Donley  noted that  the issue was  not completely  clear in            
other  states.  Under the  old  law,  a  person with  uninsured  or            
underinsured motorist coverage would  have a policy up to a certain            
amount; the  only way the  person could file  a claim under  such a            
policy was if there was a claim  and compensation did not cover the            
whole  amount  of  the  damages.  Because  of  overlap  with  other            
policies  and because  Alaska  had  mandatory auto  insurance,  the            
system  only  worked  if  someone   without  insurance  caused  the            
accident.  Anyone with  insurance  had coverage.  He believed  that            
people were confused  about the coverage. The law  had been changed            
to  clarify that  if one  person was  in an  accident resulting  in            
damages of $125,000 with a second  person who had $100,000 worth of            
insurance, the policy  of the second person would  pay $100,000 and            
the policy of the first person would pay the $25,000 balance.                  
                                                                               
Senator  Donley  continued that  there  was  a section  in  another            
statute [AS  28.22.020(1)(a)] that  was not modified.  The presence            
of the  conflicting statute enabled  the insurance companies  to go            
to federal  court and  get a  ruling that  the legislature  did not            
mean  what  it   said.  The  federal  court  determined   that  the            
protection did not have to be  paid for. The ruling was appealed up            
to the ninth  circuit to get it  back to the state court,  where it            
should have  been in the first  place. At the same time,  there was            
another  case  that  resulted  in   the  opposite  ruling-that  the            
legislature meant what it said.  In other words, one case said pay,            
the other said  not to pay; some insurance companies  in Alaska had            
to pay,  and some did  not. The amendment  would clarify  the issue            
and establish that the payment should be stacked.                              
                                                                               
Senator Donley articulated  the policy arguments on  both sides. On            
the one  hand, the argument was  that stacked policies  became more            
expensive.                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR TIM KELLY  reported that the Rules Committee  had sponsored            
the bill at  the request of the  Division of Insurance.  He did not            
object  to Amendment  2. He stated  that he  understood the  public            
policy call. He did  not believe Amendment 1 belonged  in the bill,            
however.                                                                       
                                                                               
MARIANNE  BURKE, DIRECTOR,  DIVISION  OF INSURANCE,  DEPARTMENT  OF            
COMMERCE AND  ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT,  testified that Senator  Donley            
had succinctly  described  the issue, which  was controversial  and            
long-standing. She  affirmed that there were two court  rulings and            
that the  attorney general's  office had  filed a brief  supporting            
the  provision. The  division  supported  the brief  and  concurred            
with   it.  However,   she  noted   that  the   issue  was   highly            
controversial  and asked that  the amendment  [Amendment 1]  not be            
attached to the bill.  She stressed that there were  convincing and            
strong arguments  either way. She stated that both  the original SB            
104  and   the  Kassenbaum-Kennedy   amendment  were   deliberately            
structured  to be  as non-controversial  as  possible, because  the            
bill was critical to Alaska.                                                   
                                                                               
Co-chair Sharp noted the OBJECTION to Amendment 1.                             
                                                                               
Ms. Burke  emphasized  that an  amendment as  controversial as  the            
proposed  amendment  could kill  the bill.  She  stressed that  the            
bill  had  to  go  through  during  the   current  session  or  the            
Kassenbaum-Kennedy  (the federal  regulation) effective  date would            
start.                                                                         
                                                                               
Senator  Kelly  asked  whether the  controversial  issue  had  been            
introduced on  its own merits. Senator  Donley replied that  it had            
not been introduced during the current year.                                   
                                                                               
A roll call  was taken on the  motion. [The answers were  difficult            
to  hear  on the  tape,  which  was  double-recorded  with  another            
meeting.  The  answer  of  Senator  Parnell  was  unclear  and  the            
outcome regarding Amendment 1 unclear.]                                        
                                                                               
IN FAVOR: Phillips, Donley, Adams                                              
                                                                               
OPPOSED: Torgerson, Pearce, Sharp                                              
                                                                               
Senate Pearce  MOVED to REPORT SB  104 (FIN) out of committee  with            
individual  recommendations   and  the  accompanying  fiscal  note.            
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                   
                                                                               
CSSB   104(FIN)   was   REPORTED   out  of   committee   with   "no            
recommendation"  and fiscal note by  the Department of  Revenue and            
zero  impact  note  by the  Department  of  Commerce  and  Economic            
Development.                                                                   
                                                                               
ADJOURNMENT                                                                
                                                                             
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 6:30 p.m.                           
                                                                               

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