Legislature(1997 - 1998)

05/06/1997 02:30 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
                                                                               
                     HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                           MAY 6, 1997                                         
                            2:30 P.M.                                          
                                                                               
  TAPE HFC 97 - 124, Side 1, #000 - end.                                       
  TAPE HFC 97 - 124, Side 2, #000 - end.                                       
  TAPE HFC 97 - 125, Side 1, #000 - end.                                       
  TAPE HFC 97 - 125, Side 2, #000 - #1670.                                     
                                                                               
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Gene Therriault called the House Finance Committee                 
  meeting to order at 2:30 P.M.                                                
                                                                               
  PRESENT                                                                      
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Therriault           Representative Kohring                         
  Representative Davies         Representative Martin                          
  Representative Davis          Representative Moses                           
  Representative Foster         Representative Mulder                          
  Representative Grussendorf    Representative Kelly                           
                                                                               
  Representative Hanley was not present for the meeting.                       
                                                                               
  ALSO PRESENT                                                                 
                                                                               
  George Dozier, Staff, Representative Pete Kott; Paul Grossi,                 
  Director, Division  of Workers' Compensation,  Department of                 
  Labor; James  Armstrong,  Staff, Senator  Dave Donley;  Dean                 
  Guaneli,   Chief,   Assistant  Attorney   General,  Criminal                 
  Division,  Department  of  Law;  Anne  Carpeneti,  Assistant                 
  Attorney General, Criminal Division,  Department of Law; Tim                 
  Benintendi,  Staff,  Senator Tim  Kelly;  Tuckerman Babcock,                 
  Staff,  Senator   Lyda  Green;  Marianne   Burke,  Director,                 
  Division of Insurance, Department  of Commerce and  Economic                 
  Development;  Michael  Lessmeier,   State  Farm   Insurance,                 
  Juneau; Carla  Timpone, Alaska Women's Lobby,  Juneau; Peter                 
  Nakamura,  MD, MPH,  Director,  Division of  Public  Health,                 
  Department of Health and  Social Services; Kristen Bomengen,                 
  Assistant   Attorney   General,   Human  Services   Section,                 
  Department  of  Law;  Nancy  Weller,   Division  of  Medical                 
  Assistance, Department of Health and Social Services; Angela                 
  Salerno, Executive Director, National Association of  Social                 
  Workers, Juneau; Lauree  Hugonin, Executive Director, Alaska                 
  Network  on Domestic  Violence  and Sexual  Assault, Juneau;                 
  Arthur  Snowden,  Administrative  Director,  Office  of  the                 
  Administrative Director, Alaska Court System; Jayne Andreen,                 
  Director, Council on  Domestic Violence and Sexual  Assault,                 
  Anchorage.                                                                   
                                                                               
  SUMMARY                                                                      
                                                                               
                                1                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  SB 70     An Act defining the offenses of unlawful discharge                 
            of a firearm;  and relating  to the commission  of                 
            those offenses by minors.                                          
                                                                               
            HCS CS SB  70 (FIN) was reported  out of Committee                 
            with a "do  pass" recommendation  and with  fiscal                 
            notes by the Alaska  Court System, the  Department                 
            of Administration dated 4/10/97, the Department of                 
            Law dated  4/9/97, and  zero fiscal  notes by  the                 
            Department  of  Administration dated  4/10/97, the                 
            Department  of  Corrections  dated   4/10/97,  the                 
            Department  of Public Safety dated 2/21/97 and the                 
            Department  of Health  and  Social Services  dated                 
            2/21/97.                                                           
                                                                               
  SB 104    An Act  relating to regulation and  examination of                 
            insurers and  insurance agents; relating  to kinds                 
            of  insurance;  relating to  payment  of insurance                 
            taxes and to required insurance reserves; relating                 
            to insurance  policies; relating to  regulation of                 
            capital,  surplus,  and  investments by  insurers;                 
            relating   to   hospital   and   medical   service                 
            corporations; and providing for an effective date.                 
                                                                               
            HCS CS SB 104 (FIN) was reported out  of Committee                 
            with  a "do  pass" recommendation and  with fiscal                 
            note  by  the  Department of  Revenue  and  a zero                 
            fiscal  note  by  the Department  of  Commerce and                 
            Economic Development.                                              
                                                                               
  SB 141    An  Act relating  to  permits to  carry  concealed                 
            handguns;  and  relating   to  the  possession  of                 
            firearms.                                                          
                                                                               
            SB  141   was  HELD   in  Committee  for   further                 
            consideration.                                                     
                                                                               
  HB 116    An   Act   relating   to   workers'   compensation                 
            self-insurance.                                                    
                                                                               
            CS HB 116 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with                 
            "individual recommendations" and with fiscal notes                 
            by  the   Department  of  Commerce   and  Economic                 
            Development  dated 4/25/97  and the  Department of                 
            Labor dated 4/25/97.                                               
                                                                               
  HB 234    An  Act relating to assistance for abortions under                 
            the  general  relief  program;   and  relating  to                 
            financial   responsibility   for   the  costs   of                 
            abortions.                                                         
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                2                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
            HB  234   was  HELD   in  Committee  for   further                 
            discussion.   The bill  was placed in Subcommittee                 
            with  Representative  Kelly   as  Chair  and  with                 
            members Representative  Martin and  Representative                 
            J. Davies.                                                         
  HOUSE BILL 234                                                               
                                                                               
       "An Act relating to assistance  for abortions under the                 
       general  relief  program;  and  relating  to  financial                 
       responsibility for the costs of abortions."                             
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE  TERRY  MARTIN explained  that  HB 234  would                 
  provide  a  new  measure of  logic  and  consistency  to the                 
  State's abortion law  in two  areas; first, in  establishing                 
  the procedure's  priority on  the official  list of  medical                 
  procedures  the State will pay for  under the General Relief                 
  Medical (GRM) program;  and second, by creating  a mechanism                 
  by  which  the  State  can  identify  and  hold  financially                 
  responsible  the  would-be father.    He  added, it  is  not                 
  logical  that  an  elective procedure  such  as  an abortion                 
  should continue  to hold  a  higher priority  to other  more                 
  essential services.                                                          
                                                                               
  HB  234  would  have  the  State require  payment  from  the                 
  pregnant woman, either partially or in full, for an elective                 
  abortion if it  had been paid  for under the General  Relief                 
  Medical  Program.   HB  234  would  require  that  the  male                 
  responsible  for   the  pregnancy  be  identified  and  held                 
  financially responsible  for  an abortion  sought under  the                 
  General Relief Medical Program.   Currently, under Title 47,                 
  the State requires a woman seeking financial assistance from                 
  the State to identify the  father or her dependent children.                 
  The State then  recovers any  costs it can  from the  father                 
  through    the    Child   Support    Enforcement   Division.                 
  Representative  Martin thought that it was logical that if a                 
  father of a born child should reimburse the State, so should                 
  the father of an unborn child.                                               
                                                                               
  Representative  Martin   pointed  out  that  HB   234  would                 
  represent a new bench mark  in requiring accountable parties                 
  to accept the full responsibility for  their actions.  If we                 
  are to  continue to  have a  policy in  Alaska of  publicly-                 
  funded  abortion, Representative  Martin  stressed that  the                 
  State should do all  it can to collect from  the responsible                 
  persons.                                                                     
                                                                               
  PETER  NAKAMURA,  M.D., MPH,  DIRECTOR,  DIVISION OF  PUBLIC                 
  HEALTH, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES, noted that                 
  the Department  strongly opposes  the proposed  legislation.                 
  He indicated that the bill would be harmful, speaking to the                 
  historical  problems  during  the times  when  there  was no                 
                                                                               
                                3                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  medical  access  to  abortion.    Hospital rooms  were  then                 
  responsible for addressing  the "back yard" results  of self                 
  induced abortions.  At this time, any  abortion procedure is                 
  safer than a  normal delivery.   He asserted that to  remove                 
  access to the services, would force  the State back into the                 
  "dark ages".                                                                 
                                                                               
  KRISTEN BOMENGEN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, HUMAN SERVICES                 
  SECTION, DEPARTMENT  OF  LAW, spoke  to  the  constitutional                 
  issues raised by  the legislation.   The effect of the  bill                 
  would   eliminate   abortion   funding   which   raises    a                 
  constitutional inquiry.  If the funding was  restored to the                 
  relief medical services  spectrum, it would  give rise to  a                 
  subsequent  constitutional issue  requiring  that the  woman                 
  reveal the name  of her sexual  partner in order to  receive                 
  the service.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Section 3 of  the bill separates out abortion  services from                 
  all other pregnancy  related services and places it into the                 
  list of items eliminated from funding.  Ms. Bomengen pointed                 
  out that to date, the Alaska State Courts have not addressed                 
  abortion  issues  directly.    In  other states  which  have                 
  explicate privacy protection, provide for pregnancy  related                 
  services in a constitutionally neutral manner.                               
                                                                               
  She noted that  it was the  Department of Law's belief  that                 
  the   effect  of  the  legislation's  language  would  place                 
  impermissible burdens  upon a  woman's option  to choose  to                 
  terminate the pregnancy.                                                     
                                                                               
  She continued, if funding was fully restored for all general                 
  relief  services,  or  if  a  constitutional  challenge  was                 
  required  for  the  State  to  offer all  pregnancy  related                 
  services equally, at that time, Section  2 of the bill would                 
  be addressed.  That section provides that the woman name the                 
  sexual partner in order to receive medical services from the                 
  State.  The  Department understands that the  woman's choice                 
  not to provide the name of her sexual partner is a protected                 
  right.  There  are many reasons that a woman  would not want                 
  to have the  name released.   In response to  Representative                 
  Kelly's  request,  Ms.  Bomengen  explained  that  the  male                 
  involved often needs to be sought in order to be identified.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Ms.  Bomengen provided some reasons why a woman would choose                 
  not  to  identify  the male  partner.    Co-Chair Therriault                 
  advised that  the State provides  the funds for  the service                 
  and  has  the right  to recoup  those  costs.   Ms. Bomengen                 
  agreed that the State does have the right to recoup costs as                 
  established in the  bill.   However, given the  cost of  the                 
  procedure,  the State  would be  able to  recoup their  cost                 
  solely through the woman's permanent fund  check.  Given the                 
                                                                               
                                4                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  current  value of that check,  the State would have recouped                 
  costs  from the  woman's  check.   Requiring  her to  reveal                 
  information that she may not wish to reveal, could result in                 
  constitutional problems.                                                     
                                                                               
  Discussion  followed between  Representative Martin  and Ms.                 
  Bomengen regarding the number of other  states which pay for                 
  abortions.   Ms.  Bomengen  agreed that  all states  are not                 
  constitutionally required to pay for an abortion.  The State                 
  can not discourage  the right  to exercise a  constitutional                 
  right based on religious or moral hostility.                                 
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Therriault asked  how the father's  dividend check                 
  would be accessed.  Ms. Bomengen  stated that in most cases,                 
  the procedure  would be  paid for  by the  woman's permanent                 
  fund check.                                                                  
  Representative  Martin countered  that  procedure should  be                 
  similar to  the one  used by the  Child Support  Enforcement                 
  Agency (CSEA) and  would be  done at the  time of  delivery.                 
  Representative Martin thought  this action would  provide an                 
  incentive to the  Department of  Health and Social  Services                 
  (DHSS).                                                                      
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Therriault pointed  out that  even though the  bill                 
  recommends pursuing both the  man and woman, there  would be                 
  no  need  to  go  past  the  woman.    Representative  Kelly                 
  suggested that an amendment be added to the bill which would                 
  clarify  that  the  both  parents  be  equally  responsible,                 
  whereas, if  the mother  chose not  to identify  the father,                 
  then she remain singularly responsible for payment.                          
                                                                               
  NANCY WELLER, DIVISION OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE, DEPARTMENT  OF                 
  HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES, stated that  Section 3 of HB 234                 
  would eliminate the  Department's ability to  fund abortions                 
  for low income  women.  Since  1986, the Department has  not                 
  funded any services beyond the current number #7.                            
                                                                               
  She  addressed  the   concerns  of  the  Department.     The                 
  Department would take  action against the woman  and collect                 
  her permanent fund dividend for the  abortion costs.  Of the                 
  people who apply  for the Medicaid program,  most recipients                 
  are  eligible  for Medicaid.    Those who  receive abortions                 
  under the General Relief Medical (GRM)  program, do not have                 
  to identify the father of the child until the child is born.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  The person could be required, under a condition of receiving                 
  funding for  an  abortion, to  assign  the rights  to  their                 
  permanent fund dividend  check to the  State or ask them  to                 
  identify the  father of  the unborn  child.   That would  be                 
  costly  for  the Department  and  would require  deep tissue                 
  testing.  The cost for the testing in the State of Alaska is                 
                                                                               
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  $975  dollars.   Many  areas  of  the State  do  not  do DNA                 
  testing.  Also, there is no  statewide authority to compel a                 
  father to comply with  the testing.  Ms. Weller  agreed that                 
  it was a compelling idea to have the father take part in the                 
  administrative costs, although, reiterated that  it is not a                 
  sound  idea  or  financially feasible.    The  bill provides                 
  authority to take  action on the  cost of the abortion,  but                 
  does  not  cover  the administrative  costs  associated with                 
  establishing paternity.                                                      
                                                                               
  Representative Kelly  asked the  connection between  federal                 
  Medicaid, Medicare and  State funded abortion dollars.   Ms.                 
  Weller  replied  that most  women  that receive  funding for                 
  abortion  through  the  General  Relief  Program  (GRP)  are                 
  Medicaid recipients.   There is no link  between federal and                 
  state dollars.                                                               
                                                                               
  Representative  Martin  spoke  to  the  priorities  of   the                 
  services funded and suggested  that by eliminating abortions                 
  would provide  more funding  for  other emergency  services.                 
  Ms. Weller advised that those are two different programs and                 
  services.   The State spends about $300  thousand dollars on                 
  GRM abortions annually, whereas, the cost of adult emergency                 
  care is close  to $4 million  dollars.  She emphasized  that                 
  these are two  different programs and  the money can not  be                 
  used for the alternate program.                                              
                                                                               
  ANGELA SALERNO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,  NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF                 
  SOCIAL WORKERS, JUNEAU,  spoke in  strong opposition to  the                 
  proposed legislation.  HB 234  would virtually eliminate the                 
  availability  of   abortion  services   for  one   class  of                 
  individuals in the State,  poor women.  If the  services are                 
  eliminated, there will be unintended  outcomes.  The options                 
  would  be  restricted  for  poor  women.    There  are  many                 
  unintended  pregnancies  each  year.    There will  also  be                 
  increased costs to  the State with  the fetal testing.   And                 
  also, assuming the  cost of Medicaid  and welfare for  those                 
  children.  She stressed that when children are unwanted in a                 
  family, much more recorded child abuse and neglect exists.                   
                                                                               
  CARLA  TIMPONE, ALASKA  WOMEN'S LOBBY, JUNEAU,  testified in                 
  opposition  to  the  proposed  legislation.     The  Lobby's                 
  concerns are specific to three areas:                                        
                                                                               
       *    Related to gender equity;                                          
       *    Related to class issues; and                                       
       *    Related   to   singling   out  one   elective                      
            procedure as opposed to another.                                   
                                                                               
  (Tape Change HFC 97-124, Side 2).                                            
                                                                               
  Representative Kelly pointed out that the bill does not make                 
                                                                               
                                6                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  a  statement  about  an individual's  position  on abortion;                 
  rather, it is only a statement about funding abortion.                       
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Therriault  placed  HB  234  in  Subcommittee with                 
  Representative   Kelly    as   Chair   and    with   members                 
  Representative  Martin  and Representative  J.  Davies.   He                 
  asked that the Subcommittee address the following concerns:                  
                                                                               
       *    The  amendment  provided   by  Representative                      
            Martin;                                                            
       *    The issue  of addressing the  identify of the                      
            father in the situation;                                           
       *    Any   constitutional   issues    which   need                      
            addressing by the Department of Law; and                           
       *    How to  compel a man/father to participate in                      
            the    actual    paternity    and   potential                      
            responsibility.                                                    
                                                                               
  HB 234 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                      
  HOUSE BILL 116                                                               
                                                                               
       "An    Act    relating    to   workers'    compensation                 
       self-insurance."                                                        
                                                                               
  GEORGE DOZIER,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT,  noted that                 
  HB  116   contained  numerous  substantive   and  procedural                 
  requirements designed to  ensure that worker's  compensation                 
  self-insurance  groups  remain  fiscally sound  and  able to                 
  fulfill Alaska's workers compensation requirements.                          
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Therriault MOVED to  adopt Amendment #1.  [Copy  on                 
  file].                                                                       
                                                                               
  PAUL GROSSI,  DIRECTOR, DIVISION  OF WORKERS'  COMPENSATION,                 
  DEPARTMENT  OF LABOR,  advised  that  the  Department  would                 
  support Amendment #1.                                                        
                                                                               
  Mr. Dozier explained that Amendment  #1 would impose a  duty                 
  of care  which would  be exercised  by the  trustees of  the                 
  groups created by the bill and would be a standard  level of                 
  care.                                                                        
                                                                               
  MARIANNE BURKE, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INSURANCE,  DEPARTMENT                 
  OF  COMMERCE AND  ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT,  commented that  the                 
  Department  supports  Amendment  #1  which  would  address a                 
  concern regarding  investment criteria  for excessive  money                 
  and how  it would  be handled.   There  being NO  OBJECTION,                 
  Amendment #1 was adopted.                                                    
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Therriault MOVED  to adopt Amendment #2.   [Copy on                 
  file].     Discussion  followed   regarding  Amendment   #2.                 
                                                                               
                                7                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  [Temporary tape malfunction for five minutes].                               
                                                                               
  Mr.  Grossi noted that  funding would  be needed  within the                 
  group and  that there should be included a safety net to pay                 
  claims should the group fail.  He suggested that it would be                 
  essential to place  liquid assets inside the  group in order                 
  to properly fund the initial stage of the revenue stream and                 
  the safety protection  at that end.   Insurance requirements                 
  for an insurance company is $1.75 million dollars.                           
                                                                               
  Representative  J.  Davies  asked if  the  director  had the                 
  authority to control the  amount.  He believed that  if they                 
  don't  have  adequate   insurance,  they  shouldn't   be  in                 
  business.   Mr. Grossi  replied that in  order for it  to be                 
  affordable for the size of the group, there would need to be                 
  a high enough  retention self insurance.   Representative J.                 
  Davies believed that the amounts  should be self regulating.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Ms.  Burke  pointed out  that  through Department  research,                 
  similar  organizations  typically  have  $200-$500  thousand                 
  dollars in a retention fund, critical to the organization.                   
                                                                               
  Representative  J. Davies  questioned how  the numbers  were                 
  determined.    Ms.  Burke pointed  out  that  they had  been                 
  provided in  the proposed legislation.   In order  to become                 
  established, they  must have  a minimum of  a $500  thousand                 
  dollars premium for the year, of which they need 25% of that                 
  cost  to  begin.    The  25%  is  broken  down  between  the                 
  administrative  and claims portion.   She noted  that it was                 
  her intent  that the  system work  while at  the same  time,                 
  protecting the  workers.  That is why an alternative funding                 
  source has been proposed and would require money up-front.                   
                                                                               
  Representative  Kohring MOVED to report CS  HB 116 (FIN) out                 
  of Committee  with individual  recommendations and with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal notes.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was                 
  so ordered.                                                                  
                                                                               
  CS  HB  116  (FIN)  was  reported  out  of  Committee   with                 
  "individual  recommendations" and  with fiscal notes  by the                 
  Department  of  Commerce   and  Economic  Development  dated                 
  4/25/97 and the Department of Labor dated 4/25/97.                           
  SENATE BILL 70                                                               
                                                                               
       "An Act defining the offenses  of unlawful discharge of                 
       a  firearm;  and relating  to  the commission  of those                 
       offenses by minors."                                                    
                                                                               
  JAMES ARMSTRONG, STAFF, SENATOR DAVE DONLEY,  explained that                 
  SB 70 would provide strong new deterrents to individuals who                 
                                                                               
                                8                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  unlawfully discharge firearms at buildings or dwellings.                     
                                                                               
  Last year, an Anchorage family was awakened in the middle of                 
  the night  to a  barrage  of gunfire.    The next  day,  the                 
  Anchorage  Police Department  found five  bullets lodged  in                 
  various  locations  of  the  family's   home.    Juneau  has                 
  witnessed seven separate accounts of  shootings at dwellings                 
  in  the  last year  alone.    Under current  State  law, the                 
  unlawful discharge  of a  firearm at  a building  is only  a                 
  misdemeanor.                                                                 
                                                                               
  SB 70 would  create a  new class  B felony  offense for  the                 
  unlawful  discharge  of  a  firearm  at  a  dwelling.    The                 
  legislation would also create  a class B felony offense  for                 
  discharging a  firearm in the  direction of a  building with                 
  reckless disregard of risk  of physical injury to  a person.                 
  It  would  also  address  the  problem  of  random  reckless                 
  discharges of firearms by instituting tough new penalties on                 
  those  individuals  who  not   only  endanger  property  but                 
  innocent lives as well.                                                      
                                                                               
  Mr. Armstrong explained that the work draft would add intent                 
  language to Section 1.  Representative J. Davies recommended                 
  discussion by the  Department of Law addressing  the changes                 
  made to the work draft.                                                      
                                                                               
  ANNE   CARPENETI,   ASSISTANT  ATTORNEY   GENERAL,  CRIMINAL                 
  DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF  LAW, testified that there  is legal                 
  justification  contained  in  the  criminal  code  and  that                 
  removal  of the proposed  language would not  be in conflict                 
  with that criteria.   The language  is not necessary as  the                 
  legal justification applies to all statutes.                                 
                                                                               
  Representative  Martin  MOVED that  work  draft, 0-LS0272\C,                 
  Luckhaupt,  5/5/97,  be the  version  before  the Committee.                 
  There being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                    
                                                                               
  Representative Martin MOVED to report  HCS CSSB 70 (FIN) out                 
  of Committee  with individual recommendations  and with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal notes.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was                 
  so ordered.                                                                  
                                                                               
  HCS CS SB 70 (FIN) was reported  out of Committee with a "do                 
  pass" recommendation  and with  fiscal notes  by the  Alaska                 
  Court  System,   the  Department  of   Administration  dated                 
  4/10/97, the Department of Law dated 4/9/97, and zero fiscal                 
  notes by the Department of Administration dated 4/10/97, the                 
  Department of Corrections  dated 4/10/97, the  Department of                 
  Public Safety dated 2/21/97 and the Department of Health and                 
  Social Services dated 2/21/97.                                               
  SENATE BILL 104                                                              
                                                                               
                                9                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
       "An  Act  relating  to  regulation  and examination  of                 
       insurers  and insurance  agents; relating  to kinds  of                 
       insurance; relating  to payment of  insurance taxes and                 
       to required  insurance reserves; relating  to insurance                 
       policies; relating  to regulation of  capital, surplus,                 
       and investments by  insurers; relating to hospital  and                 
       medical service  corporations;  and  providing  for  an                 
       effective date."                                                        
                                                                               
  TIM BENINTENDI, STAFF,  SENATOR TIM  KELLY, stated that  the                 
  bill was requested by the Division of Insurance and contains                 
  numerous  provisions  that will  enhance  the effectiveness,                 
  efficiency  and  quality of  insurance  regulations  for the                 
  Alaskan  consumer  and  industry.     The  majority  of  the                 
  provisions  implement  the  minimum  federal  standards  for                 
  individual and  group health insurance plans  as established                 
  under   the  federal   Health   Insurance  Portability   and                 
  Accountability Act of  1996 which  will become effective  in                 
  Alaska by July 1,  1997.  If the provisions  are not enacted                 
  in  this  legislative  session,  the federal  Department  of                 
  Health  and  Human Services  will  take over  regulations of                 
  these standards  in  individual and  group health  insurance                 
  markets in Alaska.                                                           
                                                                               
  Mr. Benintendi  provided a  summary of  the federal  minimum                 
  standards in the bill:                                                       
                                                                               
       *    In August 1996, the 1996  Act was signed into                      
            federal   law.     The   Act  received   wide                      
            bipartisan support  in Congress  and by  many                      
            organizations including the  American Medical                      
            Association (AMA).                                                 
                                                                               
       *    Federal law establishes minimum standards for                      
            all  individual and  group health  care plans                      
            which  must  become effective  July  1, 1997.                      
            These standards ensure  that health  coverage                      
            is portable, available and renewable for many                      
            individuals.                                                       
                                                                               
       *    If Alaska fails to enact  the federal reforms                      
            or otherwise, provides for enforcement of the                      
            federal reforms, the federal  government will                      
            enforce   compliance   in   Alaska  beginning                      
            January 1, 1998.                                                   
                                                                               
       *    Alaska  has   the  option  to   implement  an                      
            alternative to the minimum  individual health                      
            insurance  standards in  federal  law.   This                      
            legislation would provide  for the  necessary                      
            amendments to the insurance code to implement                      
                                                                               
                               10                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
            such  an   alternative  as   well  as   other                      
            amendments necessary to implement the minimum                      
            group reforms.                                                     
                                                                               
       *    The  bill  would  provide  for  a   federally                      
            acceptable  alternative   by  modifying   the                      
            eligibility     requirements     for      the                      
            Comprehensive  Health  Insurance  Association                      
            (CHIA).  This alternative would be  the least                      
            disruptive  to   Alaska's  small   individual                      
            health insurance market.                                           
                                                                               
  Mr. Benintendi commented  that Amendment #1,  0-LS0407\KA.4,                 
  Ford, 5/5/97, was a  refinement of an amendment provided  on                 
  the  Senate floor  to improve  the  legislation's intention.                 
  [Copy on file].   He commented  that Senator Kelly  supports                 
  the amendment.                                                               
                                                                               
  Ms. Burke  advised that  the issue  is currently before  the                 
  Alaska Supreme  Court  and  involves  contradictory  federal                 
  decisions.   The  federal court  remanded  it to  the  State                 
  Supreme Court.   The  amendment would  remove the  ambiguity                 
  which lead to the case and would clarify the intent.                         
                                                                               
  (Tape Change HFC 97-125, Side 1).                                            
                                                                               
  MICHAEL LESSMEIER, STATE FARM INSURANCE, JUNEAU, agreed that                 
  there  exists  a  controversy  about when  the  underinsured                 
  motorist coverage is triggered.  The policy decision made by                 
  Senator  Donley is reflected  in Amendment #1.   He believed                 
  that the consideration is a complicated issue.                               
                                                                               
  Representative Martin MOVED  to adopt  Amendment #1.   There                 
  being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                          
                                                                               
  Mr.  Lessmeier  spoke  to  a   concern  regarding  that  the                 
  maintenance of records  provision being held for  ten years,                 
  Page 5, Line  31.  He pointed  out that this is  longer than                 
  any other state in the country.   He requested it be changed                 
  to  five years.    Ms.  Burke  responded that  all  domestic                 
  insurers in the State  of Alaska are required to  keep their                 
  records ten years.   She added that the Division  would have                 
  no objection to changing  it to five years.   Mr. Benintendi                 
  noted that the sponsor would not object to that change.                      
                                                                               
  Representative Martin MOVED that language  change on Page 5,                 
  Line 31, deleting  "ten years"  and inserting "five  years".                 
  There being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                    
                                                                               
  Representative Martin  MOVED to report  HCS CS SB  104 (FIN)                 
  out  of Committee with  individual recommendations  and with                 
  the accompanying fiscal notes.  There being NO OBJECTION, it                 
                                                                               
                               11                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  was so ordered.                                                              
                                                                               
  HCS CS SB 104 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "do                 
  pass"  recommendation  and   with  a  fiscal  note   by  the                 
  Department of  Revenue and  the Department  of Commerce  and                 
  Economic Development.                                                        
  SENATE BILL 141                                                              
                                                                               
       "An  Act   relating  to  permits  to   carry  concealed                 
       handguns; and relating to the possession of firearms."                  
                                                                               
  TUCKERMAN BABCOCK, STAFF, SENATOR LYDA GREEN, commented that                 
  the intent of SB 141 is simple.  There is no reason that the                 
  permitted few should be more restricted than the unregulated                 
  many.    He  suggested treating  people  and  their handguns                 
  equally.  All Alaskans, who are not otherwise  prohibited by                 
  federal or state law from owning or possessing handguns, can                 
  carry  handguns  openly  in  certain  places and  can  carry                 
  concealed without  a permit in  certain places.   An Alaskan                 
  should be able  to carry a  concealed handgun in those  same                 
  places,  and   should  be  required  to  do   no  more  than                 
  fingerprinting, training and background checks.                              
                                                                               
  Mr. Babcock noted that with the exception of the recognition                 
  of out-of-state permits and the lowering of the  permit fee,                 
  the  Alaska Peace Officers Association supports SB 141.  The                 
  Department of Public Safety (DPS) supports most of the bill,                 
  although, opposes certain sections.  The Department contends                 
  that  without  an increase  in  volume, reducing  fees could                 
  result in not collecting enough funds  to cover the costs of                 
  the program.  The Department  remains opposed to recognizing                 
  out-of-state  permits  and  are  definitely  cautious  about                 
  changing the law.                                                            
                                                                               
  Mr. Babcock summarized that existing law is too restrictive,                 
  confusing  and  expensive.    Under   current  law,  one  is                 
  prohibited from walking into a  financial institution with a                 
  permitted  concealed  handgun, but  is  allowed to  take the                 
  handgun out and carry it openly into the bank.  He suggested                 
  that existing law too often turns common sense upside down.                  
                                                                               
  Representative J. Davies spoke  to his philosophy  regarding                 
  the  proposed  legislation.    He  believed  that  concealed                 
  weapons  should be prohibited in a bank with only open-carry                 
  allowed.  Mr.  Babcock commented that  the people who  apply                 
  for permits to  carry concealed guns  are not the ones  that                 
  commit crimes with those weapons.   If a person's intent was                 
  to cause damage in  a bank, they would not be concerned with                 
  carrying a permit or not.                                                    
                                                                               
  Representative  Kelly  questioned under  the  proposed bill,                 
                                                                               
                               12                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  would a person be allowed to carry a concealed weapon into a                 
  bar.    Mr.  Babcock  stated  that  would  not  be  allowed.                 
  Representative G.  Davis argued  against the  statement that                 
  people  who obtain  a  permit  to  carry concealed  are  all                 
  upstanding citizens.   He stressed  that there has  not been                 
  enough study regarding that statement.  Representative Kelly                 
  countered that history from other states does indicate these                 
  positive results.                                                            
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder questioned  the fee structure  changes                 
  recommended by  the sponsor.   Mr. Babcock replied  that the                 
  current fee structure is up to  $125 dollars for the initial                 
  permit and $60 for renewal after  five years.  Senator Green                 
  is proposing to reduce  that to $99 dollars for  the initial                 
  cost and $30  dollars for  renewal.  The  course would  cost                 
  between  $100  to  $150 dollars.    If  the  volume were  to                 
  increase,  the Department of Public Safety  would be able to                 
  meet their target  with the  amount of money  that would  be                 
  generated from the  $99 dollar fee.   The fixed cost  to the                 
  Department is roughly $60 dollars.                                           
                                                                               
  LAUREE  HUGONIN,  EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR,   ALASKA  NETWORK  ON                 
  DOMESTIC VIOLENCE  AND  SEXUAL ASSAULT,  JUNEAU, voiced  her                 
  concern that the Network opposes three sections of the bill;                 
  Section #10, #13 and #16.                                                    
                                                                               
  She noted  that the  current list  of permit  qualifications                 
  excludes persons who  have committed felonies and  a various                 
  list of misdemeanors including crimes against a person and a                 
  crime involving domestic violence.  She stressed that if the                 
  bill  passes  in it's  current  form, it  would  remove that                 
  restriction.  The Network strongly opposes that action.                      
                                                                               
  Section #13 addresses when  a permit could be  suspended and                 
  would  be  when there  has been  a  crime charged  against a                 
  person or a crime involving domestic  violence.  A person at                 
  that point could have been charged  with a crime even though                 
  they had not been convicted.   Ms. Hugonin testified that it                 
  would  be  appropriate  to  suspend   a  permit  in  certain                 
  circumstances.  She urged that current statute stand.                        
                                                                               
  Section  #16  repeals  and reenacts  a  list  of prohibitive                 
  places  to  carry  concealed.    A  facility  that  provides                 
  services to domestic violence and sexual assault victims was                 
  not included, even  though not listed in the  crime section,                 
  she stressed  that it is  a locked facility.   If the person                 
  carries  concealed,  the  option  to  deny entrance  is  not                 
  available.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Ms.  Hugonin  refuted  the notion  that  people  in domestic                 
  violence  centers  and those  that  work there  are "sitting                 
  ducks".    She emphasized  that  these places  are  homes of                 
                                                                               
                               13                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  refuge.   Places  where  skills  of  dialogue,  negotiation,                 
  fairness, truth-telling and sharing are practiced.   Because                 
  the Network works  to carry out  this vision, does not  mean                 
  that they ignore the real world.   Employees at the shelters                 
  teach victims to learn how to arm themselves with knowledge,                 
  companions  and  with  the  belief  in the  possibility  and                 
  willingness to stand for peace.                                              
                                                                               
  She  requested that weapons  not be allowed  on the shelters                 
  premise and that request be  respected and clearly specified                 
  in law.                                                                      
                                                                               
  Discussion   followed   regarding   Section    #13   between                 
  Representative Mulder and  Ms. Hugonin.   Mr. Babcock  noted                 
  that Committee members packet included a memo dated 3/24/97,                 
  from Legal Counsel to Senator Green,  stating that it should                 
  be unlawful  for any person  to possess  a fire arm,  who is                 
  subject to a  court order.   The sponsor's position is  that                 
  federal law  already prohibits those people  from possessing                 
  any  firearms.   Ms.  Hugonin replied  that  there are  some                 
  federal  provisions  which  are  not  as  expansive  as  the                 
  Domestic Violence  Protection Act  passed last  year.   That                 
  protective  order included in  the Alaska  Statutes includes                 
  emergency protective  orders.   Federal law  does not  cover                 
  those, while defining who is eligible to obtain a protective                 
  order in a more narrow field.                                                
                                                                               
  (Tape Change HFC 97-125, Side 2).                                            
                                                                               
  Mr. Babcock spoke to the broad federal  laws preclusion list                 
  of  firearms.    He  pointed  out  that  AS  11.61.200(a)(8)                 
  prohibits the possession  of a  fire arm while  a person  is                 
  committing  a  trespass  in  the   first  or  second  degree                 
  violation of  the domestic  violence  restraining order  and                 
  that  AS  11.61.200(a)(9) prohibits  the  possession  of any                 
  firearm   concealed   or   open  while   the   possessor  is                 
  communicating with  another  person in  violation  of  their                 
  domestic restraining order.                                                  
                                                                               
  JAYNE ANDREEN,  DIRECTOR, COUNCIL  ON DOMESTIC  VIOLENCE AND                 
  SEXUAL  ASSAULT,  ANCHORAGE,  expressed  concerns  that  the                 
  Council has on SB 141.  She pointed out that the Legislature                 
  and the Administration worked  very hard three years  ago to                 
  craft  a concealed handgun  system which  contained adequate                 
  safeguards.  There have been no problems with that system to                 
  date.                                                                        
                                                                               
  Ms.  Andreen spoke to  the specific areas  which the Council                 
  has addressed concerns with in the proposed legislation:                     
                                                                               
       *    Protection for domestic  violence and  sexual                      
            assault  victims  needs to  be  paramount and                      
                                                                               
                               14                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
            under  the  eligibility qualifications.   The                      
            Council is concerned that the prohibition  on                      
            a protective order has been jeopardized under                      
            federal law;                                                       
                                                                               
       *    Under the eligibility list, someone under the                      
            bill would have  had to  be convicted of  two                      
            class A  misdemeanors in order to be eligible                      
            for  a concealed handgun  permit.  That would                      
            exclude the mass majority of domestic violent                      
            offenders.                                                         
                                                                               
       *    The  prohibition  of  concealed  handguns  in                      
            domestic violence sexual  assault facilities.                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Ms. Andreen  pointed out that  we need  to acknowledge  that                 
  some domestic violence  and sexual assault victims  are very                 
  proficient at use of handguns.  The reality is that  many of                 
  these  victims  do  not  have  that  level  of  proficiency.                 
  Additionally, there are  many other  adults and children  in                 
  these facilities.  To date, there has been an assurance that                 
  these  facilities have emergency  procedures.   She stressed                 
  that  it  is very  important  to  use the  criminal  justice                 
  system, use a  safety process  to enforce  safety for  these                 
  victims.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Ms. Andreen requested the Committee  to consider banning all                 
  guns  from  these  facilities,   both  openly  carried   and                 
  concealed.                                                                   
                                                                               
  ARTHUR  SNOWDEN,  ADMINISTRATIVE   DIRECTOR,  ALASKA   COURT                 
  SYSTEM, advised that  the Supreme Court feels  strongly that                 
  an  amendment  be added  to  the  bill which  would  ban all                 
  firearms  from court facilities.  Federal  law does ban them                 
  from  federal court houses.  Mr. Snowden stressed the highly                 
  emotionally charged environment that exists  in a court room                 
  situation and that the  bill needs to be amended  to address                 
  these concerns.                                                              
                                                                               
  Representative  Kohring stated  that the procedure  of those                 
  persons  in  going  through  the permitting  process  should                 
  present minimal problems for the court  system.  Mr. Snowden                 
  respectfully disagreed.  He reiterated that court houses are                 
  highly charged emotional environments.                                       
                                                                               
  Representative  Martin questioned  if  courts  houses had  a                 
  court  ruling  pertaining  to the  expressed  concern.   Mr.                 
  Snowden replied that  the court does  have a ruling  against                 
  concealed weapons.   Although, citizens  are not charged  by                 
  law with knowing or obeying court rule, but they are charged                 
  by law with knowing  the statues and laws of the  State.  He                 
                                                                               
                               15                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  reiterated that we  need to ban  firearms by law from  being                 
  carried in court houses.                                                     
                                                                               
  DEAN  GUANELI,  CHIEF ASSISTANT  ATTORNEY  GENERAL, CRIMINAL                 
  DIVISION,  DEPARTMENT  OF  LAW,  explained  that  there  are                 
  problems with the  bill which  need to be  addressed by  the                 
  Finance Committee.  Those problems fall into two areas:                      
                                                                               
       *    Current law establishes a list of  classes of                      
            people  who  can  not  get concealed  handgun                      
            permits.   The legislation  would sweep  away                      
            that protection.                                                   
                                                                               
       *    Current  law  also contains  a  long  list of                      
            places  where concealed  handguns can  not be                      
            carried, which the bills disregards.                               
                                                                               
  Mr.  Guaneli focused  on some  of  the provisions  which are                 
  being repealed by  the bill.   He agreed with Mr.  Snowden's                 
  idea of banning all kinds of protection in court houses, and                 
  the  type  of  ultimate  protection that  domestic  violence                 
  shelters and places  that provide services to  victims would                 
  really need.  He  suggested that any amendment dealing  with                 
  court houses should  also include an additional  line taking                 
  into consideration where  services are  added to victims  of                 
  domestic violence and sexual assault.                                        
                                                                               
  He suggested  that the  classes of  people who  can not  get                 
  concealed handguns are  important to remain in  current law.                 
  Current law  states  that someone  who is  suffering from  a                 
  mental  illness  can  not get  a  concealed  handgun permit.                 
  Federal law  states that  if you  have  been adjudicated  or                 
  institutionalized, you can not carry a  fire arm.  There are                 
  many people walking the  streets who are quite  paranoid who                 
  are law abiding citizens yet are  crazy.  Those people under                 
  the proposed legislation could receive a permit.                             
                                                                               
  At this time,  the Department of Public  Safety will receive                 
  an  application  from  someone who  otherwise  looks  like a                 
  perfect applicant, and  then they will receive  letters from                 
  the community  indicating  the  marginal  ability  of  these                 
  people to be capable  of having a permit responsibly.   This                 
  type of protection  does not exist  in federal law and  must                 
  exist in State law.                                                          
                                                                               
  Mr. Guaneli  addressed other specifications  such as  people                 
  who   had   been   ordered  by   the   court   into  alcohol                 
  rehabilitation within the  last three  years.  Those  people                 
  should  not be  carrying a concealed  handgun.   Federal law                 
  does  not  speak  to serious  alcoholics;  federal  law only                 
  addresses someone who is addicted or  a user of a controlled                 
  substance.                                                                   
                                                                               
                               16                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Mr.  Guaneli noted  that  if there  is going  to be  a great                 
  expansion  of  the  places   where  concealed  handguns  are                 
  displayed under permit, there needs to be an amendment under                 
  the State Criminal  Trespass laws  to give public  buildings                 
  and premises the same rights as private places.                              
                                                                               
  Representative J. Davies requested more clarification  under                 
  current trespass laws.   Mr. Guaneli responded  that current                 
  law stipulates that  a sign would  be effective to  prohibit                 
  trespassing activities.   Representative J.  Davies asked if                 
  the proposed bill would affect  current law with respect  to                 
  private property.   Mr. Guaneli stated  it would not  affect                 
  any of the criminal trespass laws.                                           
                                                                               
  Representative Kelly MOVED to adopt Amendment  #1.  [Copy on                 
  file].  Representative Kohring OBJECTED.                                     
                                                                               
  Representative Kelly reiterated  that the  court room was  a                 
  charged environment and  that concealed handguns  should not                 
  be allowed.  Mr. Babcock  retorted that currently under  the                 
  law,  carrying openly  or  concealed  in  a court  house  is                 
  prohibitive.  A person would be thrown  in jail by the court                 
  system for contempt of  court.  Since it is  already written                 
  into law, he  urged that addition  of the language would  be                 
  redundant.                                                                   
                                                                               
  A roll call vote was taken on the MOTION.                                    
                                                                               
       IN FAVOR:      Grussendorf, Kelly,  Mulder, J.  Davies,                 
                      G. Davis, Foster                                         
       OPPOSED:       Kohring                                                  
                                                                               
  Representatives Martin,  Moses, Therriault  and Hanley  were                 
  not present for the vote.                                                    
                                                                               
  The MOTION PASSED (6-1).                                                     
                                                                               
  SB 141 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                      
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  The meeting adjourned at 5:40 P.M.                                           
                                                                               
                                                                               
                               17                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects