Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/01/2004 04:14 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*** Immediately Following Session ***
+ SJR 34 TAIWAN STATUS AND PRESIDENT TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSJR 34(WTR) Out of Committee
+ SCR 25 STATE CONSTRUCTION/MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS TELECONFERENCED
<Above Item Removed from Agenda>
+ HB 379 OFFICE OF CITIZENSHIP ASSISTANCE TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 379 Out of Committee
+ HB 366 ANIMAL CLASSICS CHARITABLE GAMING TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 366(FIN) Out of Committee
+ HB 490 EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ACT AMENDMENTS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 490(JUD) am Out of Committee
+ HB 309 PROHIBIT RELEASE OF PREDATORY FISH TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 309(JUD) am Out of Committee
+ HB 351 CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTION DEVICES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 351(JUD) Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
+= HB 405 SCHOOL PERFORMANCE DESIGNATION/REPORT TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 405(EDU) Out of Committee
+= HB 373 STATE TREASURY WARRANTS TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 373 Out of Committee
      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.                                                                                                   

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