Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/15/1997 04:55 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
          SB 103 HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION FEES & HEARINGS                       
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN brought SB 103 before the committee as the next                
 order of business.                                                            
                                                                               
 PAULA HALEY, Executive Director, Alaska State Commission for Human            
 Rights, testifying from Anchorage on SB 103, stated the legislation           
 is part of their agency's response to the increased demand for                
 services for the public in the wake of diminishing resources.  She            
 pointed out that during the past 15 years complaints of                       
 discrimination filed with the commission have nearly tripled, while           
 during the same time frame, the agency lost 35 percent of its                 
 staff.  Due to the extraordinary increase in filings of complaints            
 their case inventory has increased to an all time high.  To better            
 face this increased workload, the commission has reviewed and                 
 revised procedures, amended its regulations, proposing further                
 amendments, as well as proposing this legislation.                            
                                                                               
 Ms. Haley explained SB 103 will allow for both cost-saving measures           
 and the authority to charge fees for certain services.  Any fees              
 generated and, most importantly, the money saved from the holding             
 the hearings at the commission's office and not transcribing each             
 hearing will be used towards the investigation and enforcement of             
 the human rights law.  The money will allow the agency to use                 
 temporary staff in the processing of investigations, pay for                  
 overtime and possibly will allow them to schedule more hearings so            
 there is not delay at that end of the process.                                
                                                                               
 In closing, Ms. Haley urged the committee's support for passage of            
 SB 103.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 309                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE noted correspondence had been received from the                
 Alaska Native Brotherhood relating to their concern that there may            
 be individuals who do not have the resources to post a fee, and he            
 asked Ms. Haley if these individuals would be denied services if              
 they were unable to post the fee.  MS. HALEY responded that the               
 same concern was raised in the House in hearings on HB 155 so the             
 word "educational" was added in front of the words "services,                 
 information and materials".  She added that the genius of this                
 particular bill originated from the fact that one of the                      
 commission's roles is to eliminate discrimination, not only from              
 enforcement but through prevention education, so the commission is            
 not so much concerned about filing fees.                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE moved the following amendment to SB 103:                       
                                                                               
 Amendment No. 1                                                               
                                                                               
 Page 1, line 12:  Between the words "for" and "services" insert               
                   "educational"                                               
                                                                               
 Hearing no objection to the amendment, CHAIRMAN GREEN stated the              
 amendment was adopted and would be incorporated into a State                  
 Affairs CS.                                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR MACKIE moved CSSB 103(STA) be passed out of committee with            
 individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so                  
 ordered.                                                                      

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