Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205
03/03/2006 02:00 PM HEALTH, EDUCATION & SOCIAL SERVICES
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SB 250-DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/SEXUAL ASSAULT COUNCIL CHAIR FRED DYSON announced SB 250 to be up for consideration. He said that SB 250 extends the termination date for the Council for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (Council). He added that the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee (LB&A) considered the auditor's report and suggested making changes to the board to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. 2:06:22 PM PAT DAVIDSON, Legislative Auditor, reported her concern about the statutory requirement that the Governor consult with one specific organization, the Network for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (Network), in appointing the Council's public members. This requirement creates the appearance of impropriety because the Network is a recipient of grants from the Council. Authorizing the governor to consult with everybody and not make any particular organization first among equals is language and policy. SENATOR ELTON asked how much money the Department of Public Safety (DPS) receives from the Council. MS. DAVIDSON replied that the schedule of grants awarded in 2006 indicates the DPS received over $180,000 under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). SENATOR ELTON remarked that the so-called conflict is really a potential conflict because the Governor need not accept the Network's recommendations, but he sees another conflict of interest arising from the fact that the Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety serve on the Council and thereby make decisions regarding the distribution of grant money destined to their own departments. He asked why the LB&A Committee is more concerned with the former potential conflict than with the latter one. MS. DAVIDSON replied that she considers the latter potential conflict to be less serious because the VAWA grant money gets significant federal oversight. SENATOR ELTON asked if the LB&A Committee recommended this legislation because it found the conflict of interest to be a factor contributing to the lack of oversight over Council requests. MS. DAVIDSON answered that her concern is that the potential conflict may recreate the aforementioned problem at a later date. SENATOR ELTON asked whether the Governor always follows the Network's advice. MS. DAVIDSON replied that page 11 of the report indicates that the Governor recommended just two of the last five public members recommended by the Network. 2:16:15 PM CHRIS ASHENBRENNER, Program Coordinator for Training, Network, said that Network director, Peggy Brown, supported a conceptual amendment to institutionalize what is now an informal practice of including the Network director in the Council meetings. She remarked that the Network does not support the bill as written. SENATOR ELTON said that he is concerned that state employees are over-represented on the Council. He added that his amendment would preclude state employees from serving on the Council's public seats. He remarked that the Mental Health Trust Advisory Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Board, the State Board of Parole, the Permanent Fund Corporation Board of Trustees, the Personnel Board, the Alaska Railroad Board of Directors, and the Oil and Gas Advisory Board all preclude state workers from serving as public members on their boards. CHAIR DYSON disclosed that his wife had received funds from the Office of Victim's Assistance in the past. He said that while this is no longer the case, and unlikely to ever be the case in the future, he wanted to mention it to the committee. SENATOR ELTON moved to adopt Amendment 3. 24-LS1546\A.6 Cook/Kane A M E N D M E N T 3 OFFERED IN THE SENATE BY SENATOR ELTON TO: SB 250 Page 1, line 2: Delete the first occurrence of "and" Insert "relating to public members of the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault appointed by the governor" Page 1, line 3, following "assault": Insert "; and providing for an effective date" Page 1, line 7: Delete "persons" Insert "public members who are not employed by the state or a state entity and who are [PERSONS]" Page 2, following line 14: Insert new bill sections to read: "* Sec. 4. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read: APPLICABILITY. The provisions of AS 18.66.020(a)(1), as amended by sec. 1 of this Act, apply to vacancies among the public members of the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault that occur on or after the effective date of sec. 1 of this Act. * Sec. 5. Section 1 of this Act takes effect August 1, 2007." CHAIR DYSON called for a roll call vote. Senators Elton and Olson voted yea; Senators Green, Wilken and Chair Dyson voted nay. Therefore Amendment 3 failed. SENATOR ELTON said that the committee is making a fairly substantial change to law based on the premise that there is a conflict of interest. He said that from his standpoint the real conflict is not about the Network making recommendations, which are often ignored, but rather that there are people who make funding decisions concerning funds destined to their own departments. SENATOR ELTON said protecting people that need protection is one of the most important functions of state government, and yet an amendment to ensure a seat for a victim has been vigorously opposed by the commissioners on the Council. He asserted that he is greatly concerned that Commissioner th Tandeske has made the Council his 24 priority out of 27. He remarked that this is surprising given that domestic violence is the leading cause of homicide in Alaska and Alaska leads all other states in men murdering women. He said that he hopes that as this bill moves through the system it is amended in such a way that it places the rights of victims above the rights of commissioners. 2:26:50 PM CHAIR DYSON said that he shares Senator Elton's view that advocacy and protection is inordinately important. He remarked that he trusts that the Council members will be professional enough to continue to perform their duties in an exemplary way. He asserted that he would like to join Senator Elton in watching the Committee to see that it maintains its commendable service record. SENATOR WILKEN moved to report SB 250 and attached fiscal notes from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, it was so ordered.