Legislature(2001 - 2002)
05/04/2001 05:22 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 120-CRIME PREVENTION & PRIVACY COMPACT REPRESENTATIVE John Coghill testified that the sponsor substitute for HB 120 provides language for a privacy compact between Alaska and other states and the federal government to facilitate the exchange of criminal history records information for non-criminal purposes. The compact would be assumed by statute rather than by reference. Any changes to the language in the compact would th necessitate a state review to protect 10 Amendment rights. He assured members that his focus was to ensure that the compact could never have authority over state. On pages 1 and 2 there are 10 criteria for use of the information and gives authority for receiving the information to individuals who are not associated with law enforcement. Positive identification would be made using fingerprints that are submitted voluntarily. There are five major purposes for the compact outlined on page 7 that provide a legal framework for the establishment of the cooperative venture. MR. KEN BISCHOFF, Director of the Division of Administrative Services for the Department of Public Safety, stated strong support for the bill. The department is the repository for all criminal history records and they process about 30,000 fingerprint based criminal history checks. TAPE 01-30, SIDE A The state can now access federal records but by joining the compact, they could directly access other states' records as well. This would make accessible 40 percent of the information that is currently unavailable. The compact does nothing to change what individual legislatures approve or authorize regarding dissemination laws. They can only use the information as a compact member if the Alaska legislature authorizes the release of the information. Examples of areas in which the information would be used are for school bus drivers, day care workers, foster care licensing, teacher certification and nursing home and assisted living workers. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked who was currently being paid to handle this. MR. BISCHOFF replied that there is a criminal history repository staff in Anchorage headed by criminal records bureau chief, Kathryn Monfreda, who is a latent fingerprint expert. Diane Schenker is the criminal justice planner. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR thought they had a retired trooper on contract to put the package together. MR. BISCHOFF responded they have received federal and general funding through the legislature to begin the process of rewriting the Alaska Public Safety Information Network. The contract for the project manager was put to bid and awarded to a retired major with the troopers. He's working to develop a new computer information system that will allow efficient national criminal history checks. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR commented that he had seen significant funding available for that. MR. BISCHOFF responded that the compact under consideration has a zero fiscal note. The funding referred to is for development of the new system. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said the compact simply sets up the bureaucracy and the rules for the bureaucracy that makes up the compact. The actual cost is for buying hardware and software, setting up the system and training people to use the system. MR. BISCHOFF did not agree. The National Privacy Compact is based on the Interstate Identification Index network system (III), which is an FBI system. That system was paid for and is a federal network to which Alaska has access. SENATOR THERRIAULT asked whether passage of the compact obligates the state to follow through and update the current system. MR. BISCHOFF said passage of the compact carries no legal or financial obligation to replace the system. However, the computer system that was implemented in 1984 is obsolete and not able to meet current demands. Although Alaska has used the III for 35 years, it has just been used for law enforcement purposes. The compact allows access to that information for civil purposes based upon a set of rules outlined in the compact. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked who would be able to use this information for civil purposes. MR. BISCHOFF replied it would be the department of public safety criminal records bureau personal who would send information based on fingerprint requests from employers and regulatory agencies that are authorized to receive the information as set forth in statute. The criminal records bureau is the sole repository and control point for fingerprint information in Alaska and every state has such a bureau. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked for verification that this was to be used for civil purposes. MR. BISCHOFF confirmed it was 100 percent for civil use. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked about provisions for violation of utilization of the system since individuals have to agree to have their fingerprints run through the system for civil purposes. MS. DIANE SHENKER, Criminal Justice Planner Division of Administrative Services for the Department of Public Safety, said that nothing in the bill changes the law for violation of the system. State law requires an audit system whereby use is logged and audited. Access may be terminated and criminal charges referred for violations of release of confidential information. The FBI has similar provisions for action for violations. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked whether there have been any violations and or terminations of use. MS. SHENKER said there have been both. Violations are discovered through investigated complaints and routine audits. "A handful" of violations have been confirmed since they instituted the accelerated audit program in the last several years. As a result, the individuals' access was terminated. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR commented that although access was terminated, none of the parties were fired. In fact, one violator was promoted. MS. SHENKER responded that in the statute and regulations for the department of public safety as a repository, they do not have the authority to terminate an employee of another agency but they do have the authority to terminate access to the criminal justice information system. It's up to the employer to determine a particular personnel action. MR. BISCHOFF acknowledged the issues that arose several years ago but wanted to emphasize that this is a discrete process that is easier to control. Although the concerns will understandably continue, this is a civil process and access to the process will not be widespread. Through a given set of rules, his staff in Anchorage would process applicant checks in that shop. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said he understood but the network of information that is available is being expanded. MR. BISCHOFF responded that the information they have is for law enforcement purposes and could not be provided to employers and licensing agencies. Passage of the bill would allow them to provide information for those purposes. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR called for further questions or additional witness testimony and received no response. He asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR COWDERY moved SSHB 120(am) from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, SSHB 120(am) moved from committee with individual recommendations.