Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

04/27/2006 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Scheduled But Not Heard
Scheduled But Not Heard
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 27, 2006                                                                                         
                           8:43 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Ralph Seekins, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
Senator Gretchen Guess                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 307                                                                                                             
"An Act  relating to a fee  provided for in the  rental agreement                                                               
for late payment  of rent under the  Uniform Residential Landlord                                                               
and Tenant Act."                                                                                                                
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 316                                                                                                             
"An  Act amending  the  Alaska Stranded  Gas  Development Act  to                                                               
eliminate  the opportunity  for judicial  review of  the findings                                                               
and determination  of the  commissioner of  revenue on  which are                                                               
based legislative review for a  proposed contract for payments in                                                               
lieu of taxes  and for the other purposes described  in that Act;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 414(RLS) am                                                                                               
"An   Act   relating  to   the   interception   of  the   private                                                               
communications of a minor."                                                                                                     
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 190(FIN)                                                                                                  
"An Act  relating to the  purchase of alcoholic beverages  and to                                                               
access  to licensed  premises; relating  to  civil liability  for                                                               
certain persons  accessing licensed premises;  requiring driver's                                                               
licenses and  identification cards  to be marked  if a  person is                                                               
restricted from  consuming alcoholic beverages  as a result  of a                                                               
conviction or  condition of probation  or parole and  relating to                                                               
fees for the marked license; and requiring the surrender and                                                                    
cancellation of driver's licenses under certain circumstances."                                                                 
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 307                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: LANDLORD REMEDIES; LATE FEE                                                                                        
SPONSOR(s): LABOR & COMMERCE                                                                                                    
02/23/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/23/06       (S)       L&C, JUD                                                                                               
03/09/06       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/09/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/09/06       (S)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
03/16/06       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/16/06       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
03/28/06       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/28/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/28/06       (S)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
03/30/06       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/30/06       (S)       Moved SB 307 Out of Committee                                                                          
03/30/06       (S)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
03/31/06       (S)       L&C RPT  2DP 1NR 2AM                                                                                   
03/31/06       (S)       DP: BUNDE, STEVENS B                                                                                   
03/31/06       (S)       NR: DAVIS                                                                                              
03/31/06       (S)       AM: ELLIS, SEEKINS                                                                                     
04/19/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/19/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/19/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/25/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/25/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/25/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/27/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB 316                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: COURT REVIEW OF STRANDED GAS DECISION                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): JUDICIARY                                                                                                           
04/13/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/13/06       (S)       JUD                                                                                                    
04/19/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/19/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/19/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/20/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/20/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/20/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/21/06       (S)       JUD AT 9:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/21/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/21/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/22/06       (S)       JUD AT 9:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/22/06       (S)       -- Continued from 04/20/06 --                                                                          
04/25/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/25/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/25/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/26/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/26/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/26/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/27/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/24/06       (H)       VERSION: CSHB 414(RLS) AM                                                                              
04/25/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/25/06       (S)       JUD                                                                                                    
04/27/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Jane Alberts, Legislative Aide                                                                                                  
Staff to Senator Con Bunde                                                                                                      
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced SB 307                                                                                         
Bob Maier                                                                                                                       
Alaska Manufactured Housing Association                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 307                                                                                       
Ed Sniffen, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                          
Department of Law                                                                                                               
PO Box 110300                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0300                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 307                                                                                       
Larry Ostrovsky, Senior Assistant Attorney General                                                                              
Oil, Gas & Mining Section                                                                                                       
Department of Law                                                                                                               
PO Box 110300                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0300                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Responded to questions regarding SB 316                                                                   
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  RALPH   SEEKINS  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 8:43:03 AM.  Present were Senators                                                             
Hollis French, Gretchen Guess, and Chair Ralph Seekins.                                                                         
               SB 307-LANDLORD REMEDIES; LATE FEE                                                                           
8:43:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SB 307 to be up for consideration.                                                                      
JANE ALBERTS, Staff to Senator Con Bunde, introduced the bill.                                                                  
BOB MAIER, Alaska Manufactured  Housing Association, testified he                                                               
has been  involved in the  bill since inception.  The Association                                                               
is arguing for  a 15 percent cap on late  fees because "rents pay                                                               
mortgages."  This late  fee is  based on  the fees  that mortgage                                                               
companies charge and  should be the responsibility  of the renter                                                               
who causes a late mortgage payment.                                                                                             
8:46:26 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GUESS  asked  Ms.  Alberts whether  the  state  caps  or                                                               
regulates any other fees.                                                                                                       
MS. ALBERTS  said she  did not  know of any  but deferred  to Mr.                                                               
ED SNIFFEN, Assistant Attorney General,  Department of Law (DOL),                                                               
addressed  the question.  The Division  of Banking  has a  cap on                                                               
payday loan venders and non-sufficient funds checks.                                                                            
8:48:22 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Gene Therriault joined the meeting.                                                                                     
SENATOR FRENCH noted  that normally late payments  are well under                                                               
five  percent. He  said 15  percent was  not fair  and speculated                                                               
that 10 percent might not be fair as well.                                                                                      
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  Mr. Mayer  whether  he was  certain in  his                                                               
earlier statement that the bank charges  a 15 percent late fee on                                                               
a mortgage.                                                                                                                     
MR.  MAIER  responded there  are  not  late fees  but  penalties.                                                               
Historically  there has  never been  a set  percentage on  a late                                                               
fee. He suggested the committee  go back to the original language                                                               
of the bill and let the market dictate the penalty.                                                                             
8:51:17 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GUESS asked  whether a  local government  could regulate                                                               
the penalty.                                                                                                                    
MR.  SNIFFEN  said  the  Landlord   Tenant  Act  would  supersede                                                               
regulation  of  the rental  market  but  that the  municipalities                                                               
would be free to address anything not addressed in the Act.                                                                     
SENATOR GUESS asked  Ms. Alberts whether late fees  would be used                                                               
as a basis for eviction.                                                                                                        
MS. ALBERTS responded  a person could be evicted  but as previous                                                               
testimony suggested it does not happen.                                                                                         
8:54:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  said he had  no problem  capping the late  fee. He                                                               
also said  he was nervous about  some of the things  in the bill,                                                               
such as  allowing a landlord to  have too much control  over late                                                               
fees and evictions.                                                                                                             
8:57:46 AM at ease 9:24:47 AM                                                                                               
9:24:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked Mr. Sniffen  to continue with his interrupted                                                               
MR. SNIFFEN mentioned  the only reason the  committee was talking                                                               
about  a  cap on  late  fees  is  to  address fair  treatment  to                                                               
tenants.  A cap  would  be  a reasonable  compromise.  He had  no                                                               
comment on the percentage though.                                                                                               
9:26:47 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH asked whether version  G allows for an eviction on                                                               
a late fee.                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEEKINS said, "That's correct."                                                                                           
SENATOR FRENCH proposed a conceptual  amendment. If the committee                                                               
were going to allow an eviction on  a late fee to push it back to                                                               
ten days.  That would give  the tenant  three extra days  to make                                                               
rent. He  suggested streamlining  the process  to one  notice and                                                               
one  hearing. He  said that  would  gain in  efficiency what  the                                                               
process loses in the three days.                                                                                                
MR.  MAIER responded  the reason  for the  7-day notice  was that                                                               
there  are 30  days in  the month  and by  the end  of the  grace                                                               
period  and the  court  process  weeks could  go  by without  the                                                               
landlord collecting the rent.                                                                                                   
MR. SNIFFEN  commented that the three  days would not be  a deal-                                                               
breaker.  The  single notice  concept  is  a  good idea  but  the                                                               
committee needs  to make sure that  the notice is clear  and easy                                                               
for tenants to understand.                                                                                                      
9:30:54 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH said he would need time to work his concept out.                                                                 
SENATOR  GUESS added  she would  prefer to  see the  amendment in                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS held the bill in committee.                                                                                       
Brief at ease 9:32:08 AM                                                                                                      
          SB 316-COURT REVIEW OF STRANDED GAS DECISION                                                                      
9:39:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SB 316 to be up for consideration.                                                                      
Senator Charlie Huggins joined the meeting.                                                                                     
CHAIR SEEKINS  reminded the  committee that  the previous  day he                                                               
had asked  the drafter  to conform  the language  between Section                                                               
.310  of the  SGDA and  Section .435  of the  bill. He  asked Mr.                                                               
Ostrovsky  whether he  had  a  chance to  look  at the  committee                                                               
substitute (CS) entitled 24-LS1842\I.                                                                                           
LARRY OSTROVSKY said  he thought that .435(2) ought  to look like                                                               
.410(2)  and   clarify  the  information   that  needs   to  stay                                                               
9:41:49 AM                                                                                                                    
[The committee studied the existing law together                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  said his intent  was to  get the same  language in                                                               
.410(2) transferred over  to .435(b)(1) so they  would conform to                                                               
each other.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR FRENCH explained  then (b)(1) would read,  "submit to the                                                               
Legislature the  commissioner's final findings  and determination                                                               
and, to  the extent the  information is  not required to  be kept                                                               
confidential  under  AS   43.82.310,  the  supporting  financial,                                                               
technical, and market data, including  work papers, analyses, and                                                               
recommendation s of any independent contractors used, etcetera."                                                                
9:44:23 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS said  the CS  did not  reflect what  he wanted  to                                                               
relay and that  the committee would continue to  work off version                                                               
SENATOR GUESS explained her proposed  amendment that she referred                                                               
to  as Y.2.  The amendment  would allow  for the  preliminary and                                                               
final findings to have the  same language. Also "fiscal interest"                                                               
is implied but inconsistent throughout the statute.                                                                             
CHAIR  SEEKINS  said  he  didn't  think  the  contract  could  be                                                               
provided to  the Legislature with any  proposed amendments. There                                                               
is  an   impasse  unless  the   contract  absolutely   meets  the                                                               
requirements of the Chapter.                                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS  said she didn't  see the difference.  For example,                                                               
one of  the purposes of the  Stranded Gas [Development] Act  is a                                                               
new investment  without altering the  taxes and royalties  in the                                                               
current gas infrastructure and production.                                                                                      
9:50:06 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  noted the committee  was discussing  the mismatch                                                               
between  current law  and the  contract that  is being  developed                                                               
right now.  He reminded the  committee that the governor  has the                                                               
authority inherent  in his  position to  release the  contract no                                                               
matter what.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  said he would  like to see everything  spelled out                                                               
and  in the  open. He  would  like to  see the  contract and  its                                                               
agreements  as  well as  what  exactly  needs  to be  changed  in                                                               
current law to get the contract moving.                                                                                         
SENATOR FRENCH said he thought  the committee was in agreement on                                                               
that point.  It would  have been  a better  process to  amend the                                                               
Stranded Gas Development Act before negotiating a contract.                                                                     
CHAIR  SEEKINS stated  the public  should know  why the  contract                                                               
doesn't meet the requirements.                                                                                                  
9:52:58 AM at ease 9:53:25 AM                                                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS  reiterated his earlier  comment that he  wants the                                                               
entire contract process to be "out in the light of day."                                                                        
SENATOR FRENCH  said it was  up to  the committee to  decide what                                                               
language  the  governor  would  have  to  overcome  in  order  to                                                               
finalize a contract.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  GUESS said  the  question might  be  on the  preliminary                                                               
findings and whether  the contract meets the  requirements of the                                                               
Chapter  and that  language probably  shouldn't be  in the  final                                                               
findings. It  seems like there may  be a role in  the preliminary                                                               
findings given the current timing.                                                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH  agreed and said  the preliminary findings  are as                                                               
to "whether"  the contract meets  the requirements and  the final                                                               
probably  shouldn't   even  though   the  Legislature   would  be                                                               
considering the contract after the SGDA was amended.                                                                            
9:56:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  opined  there  have   always  been  two  findings                                                               
contained in  the final findings.  One is an absolute  finding in                                                               
430(b) that the  contract is in the  long-term financial interest                                                               
of the state. The other finding  is in .410(a)(3), which is as to                                                               
whether the  proposed contract and  any proposed  amendments meet                                                               
the requirements  and purposes of  the Chapter. In the  past that                                                               
was  executed  by the  administration.  Now  there is  a  further                                                               
approval on the part of the  Legislature and they must be careful                                                               
to  specify  that  the  Legislature  can't  consider  a  proposed                                                               
contract until it meets those two provisions.                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS  argued that  .430(b) was not  a "final  finding or                                                               
determination."  That's  a  commissioner  determination,  not  an                                                               
agency decision, she noted.                                                                                                     
10:01:45 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. OSTROVSKY responded  the change in .400  reflects the process                                                               
in terms  of the amendments.  In terms of changes  in .430(a)(3),                                                               
the  "as to  whether" is  preferable language  partly due  to the                                                               
issues of  effective date. He  speculated that the  amendments to                                                               
the SGDA might not be effective until another 90 days.                                                                          
SENATOR GUESS said the final  findings should not be wishy-washy.                                                               
They should meet the requirements  of the Chapter and comply with                                                               
the  Act. She  asked specifically  what it  would be  that people                                                               
would take to court in a challenge.                                                                                             
CHAIR  SEEKINS  said the  constitutional  issue  that remains  is                                                               
whether  or  not  the  contract meets  the  requirements  of  the                                                               
10:05:09 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS  said she would  question again the reason  for the                                                               
Stranded  Gas Development  Act  and said  that  question was  the                                                               
"Elephant in  the Room." The other  issue is a law  review of 393                                                               
that asks whether  the Legislature could approve the  Act or not.                                                               
If someone takes  that to court and the court  finds that because                                                               
of "separation of powers" then  the Legislature does not have the                                                               
authority  to approve  or disapprove  an Act.  That is  why final                                                               
findings and determination should be kept whole in the bill.                                                                    
10:07:12 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked  Chair  Seekins  whether  it  was  his                                                               
opinion that the bill still leaves a snag in the system.                                                                        
CHAIR SEEKINS said it leaves it  open to one possibility and that                                                               
is that unless  the contract absolutely complies with  the Act it                                                               
would  be  improper   to  forward  it  to   the  Legislature  for                                                               
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  reminded  the  committee that  the  Act  was                                                               
pending a handful of amendments.                                                                                                
10:10:38 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  GUESS responded  that the  debate  brings the  committee                                                               
back  to  her  question  of   why  even  have  the  Stranded  Gas                                                               
[Development]  Act. If  the  Act is  going to  see  more than  20                                                               
offered amendments and the Legislature  only approves 10 of them,                                                               
the contract  reflects the  20 amendments  and so  she questioned                                                               
the reason  for wasting the public's  time if there is  not going                                                               
to be a requirement that the contract meet the Act.                                                                             
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  if the  committee was  in agreement  of the                                                               
conceptual proposed language to the amendment Y.2.                                                                              
10:13:03 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH reread the language.                                                                                             
CHAIR SEEKINS asked Mr. Ostrovsky to comment.                                                                                   
MR.  OSTROVSKY said  that  language reflects  the  fact that  the                                                               
commissioner would say if the proposed contract doesn't line up.                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS  said  he  would  have  the  conceptual  amendment                                                               
drafted up. He  indicated he would also have the  drafter work on                                                               
his proposed  amendment of the  previous day, which did  not come                                                               
out right. He  advised Senator Guess that the  committee would no                                                               
longer need to consider her amendment in regards to .430(b).                                                                    
SENATOR  GUESS  said .430  (b)  addresses  when the  commissioner                                                               
gives  the contract  to the  governor.  It does  not address  the                                                               
long-term  fiscal  interest because  that  is  not in  the  final                                                               
10:16:42 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. OSTROVSKY responded the language  might be somewhat ambiguous                                                               
but the final  findings support the conclusion  that the contract                                                               
is in  the long-term  fiscal interest of  the state.  Even though                                                               
the statute separates  them, for all practical  purposes they are                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked Mr. Ostrovsky  whether there was  any reason                                                               
not  to add  "and findings  and determination  that the  proposed                                                               
contract is  in the  long-term fiscal interest  of the  state" to                                                               
page 4 paragraph 3.                                                                                                             
MR. OSTROVSKY said that could be done.                                                                                          
10:19:21 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS  referred  to the  content  on  determination  and                                                               
findings regarding  requirements and purposes of  the Chapter. He                                                               
asked the committee whether they wanted to amend that part.                                                                     
SENATOR  GUESS   said  she  was  leaning   towards  clarity.  She                                                               
questioned the reason a contract  would be forwarded if it didn't                                                               
align with the statute.                                                                                                         
MR.  OSTROVSKY interjected  that would  raise a  potential timing                                                               
SENATOR GUESS  questioned why.  The issue is  whether or  not the                                                               
contract is in alignment with the statute.                                                                                      
10:21:27 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  OSTROVSKY replied  the  timing issue  is  an effective  date                                                               
issue.  With that  change it  would  say the  contract meets  the                                                               
requirements  and purposes  of the  Chapter.  If the  legislature                                                               
changed the requirements  of the chapter but  it wasn't effective                                                               
at  the time  the commissioner  submitted the  final findings  it                                                               
still wouldn't necessarily line up.                                                                                             
CHAIR  SEEKINS  said  the  bill  could  pass  with  an  immediate                                                               
effective date.                                                                                                                 
MR. OSTROVSKY agreed  that if that were to occur  it would negate                                                               
the timing issue.                                                                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH referred to his  proposed amendment titled Y.1 and                                                               
spoke  to it.  He  said  it would  maintain  all the  substantive                                                               
rights  for  the  public  to bring  forth  a  challenge.  Senator                                                               
Therriault  brought   up  a   good  point   in  respect   to  the                                                               
constitutionality  of  the  Legislature's  authorization  of  the                                                               
contract. He  speculated that  there could be  a real  issue with                                                               
that in  regards to a violation  of the separation of  powers and                                                               
whether or not the Legislature's  review of the contract would be                                                               
intruding on an executive function.                                                                                             
If  such legal  argument were  successfully made  then the  final                                                               
finding of  the commissioner of revenue  would be the end  of the                                                               
contract negotiation process and would  be the default place that                                                               
a person would bring about a challenge.                                                                                         
10:26:33 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS stated that was  a good point. Most importantly the                                                               
committee has  preserved the challenge on  a constitutional issue                                                               
and limited the time that it can be brought forth.                                                                              
10:27:59 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS  explained the reason  she was confused  is because                                                               
she  believed  that  the  committee   was  trying  to  deal  with                                                               
protecting a person's  right to challenge a  contract but without                                                               
affecting or creating a timing issue.                                                                                           
CHAIR SEEKINS advised the committee that  he was going to draw up                                                               
a CS for members to consider at the next bill hearing.                                                                          
SENATOR THERRIAULT informed  members of an amendment  that he was                                                               
prepared  to  introduce  that would  extend  the  public  comment                                                               
period to 90 days.                                                                                                              
10:32:27 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS held the bill in committee.                                                                                       
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Seekins adjourned the meeting at 10:33:01 AM.                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects