Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/01/2004 04:14 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSHB 490(JUD) am-EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ACT AMENDMENTS CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced CSHB 490(JUD) am to be up for consideration. TOM NELSON, Director Division of Employment Security, Department of Labor & Workforce Development, explained that the bill is largely housekeeping and clarifies existing statute. The changes provide Alaska language alignment with federal law and will bring the state into compliance with the unemployment insurance overpayment arrangements Alaska has with other states. SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS asked for an explanation of Sections 10 and 11. MR. NELSON said: Section 10 aligns Alaska language with federal law by clarifying which health care professionals are excluded from the definition of employment. Only student nurses and medical interns are excluded and this clears up existing language. The intent is just to provide a little clarification to employers that may misinterpret current statute. Section 11 clarifies language that provides an exclusion from the definition of wages or payments or benefits provided by an employer for purposes of educational assistance to their employees. Federal law already provides this exclusion from their definition of wages. TOBY STEINBERGER from the Attorney General's Office testified via teleconference. Commenting on Sections 1-3 and Section 8 she said: Sections 1-3 of the bill will help federal, state and municipal prosecutors to investigate and prosecute criminal cases because it will help them locate where suspects or witnesses or victims or persons on parole or probation - where they work. As a matter of background, employers provide information for each employee quarterly to the Employment Security Division when they pay their employment security taxes. So the location of the employee is very current. Also the Employment Security Division also provides unemployment benefits and people provide their addresses then. Another thing it's important to know is the Employment Security Division is heavily federally funded. The U.S Department of Labor has required that employment security records be kept confidential, but it allows for a number of exceptions. And accordingly, our Alaska Statute 23.20.110 has allowed for exceptions, but none of these exceptions allow for the releasing of information of criminal prosecutions other than in prosecuting cases against claimants who have fraudulently received payments or unemployment compensation benefits. This amendment would allow the Criminal Division as well as the U.S. Attorney's Office and the federal prosecutors to find suspects and witnesses and victims since this information is so up to date. The U.S. Department of Labor has approved this provision and ... allowed the release of employment security information for the purposes of criminal investigations and prosecutions. These other states include: Washington, Iowa, Arkansas, Georgia, Utah and Oklahoma. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked what is included in employment security records. MS STEINBERGER said that would include the employee's name, Social Security record and payroll information. She continued: Section 8 would amend an existing statute, AS 23.120.497. The Employment Security Division provides unemployment benefits to persons and if they get denied, they can have a hearing. Currently the statute, AS 23.120.497, provides that unemployment compensation decisions are not admissible and the subsequent action or proceedings are not admissible in another form. For example, in a court case or in an administrative proceeding, if for example, an employee has brought a lawsuit against their employer for wrongful termination. The current statute says that they're not admissible in a subsequent action or proceeding or in another form. What this amendment will do is clarify that this also includes arbitration proceedings. There were no further questions or comments. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR COWDERY motioned to report CSHB 490JUD) am from committee with individual recommendations and accompanying zero fiscal notes. He asked for unanimous consent. There being no objection, it was so ordered.