Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/26/1998 01:45 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
             HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                           
    March 26, 1998                                                             
                          1:45 P.M.                                            
                                                                               
TAPE HFC 98 - 78, Side 1.                                                      
TAPE HFC 98 - 78, Side 2.                                                      
TAPE HFC 98 - 79, Side 1.                                                      
TAPE HFC 98 - 79, Side 2.                                                      
                                                                               
CALL TO ORDER                                                                  
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault called the House Finance Committee                         
meeting to order at 1:45 P.M.                                                  
                                                                               
PRESENT                                                                        
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault   Representative Kohring                                   
Representative J. Davies  Representative Martin                                
Representative G. Davis  Representative Moses                                  
Representative Grussendorf Representative Kelly                                
                                                                               
Representatives Hanley, Mulder and Foster were not present                     
for the meeting.                                                               
                                                                               
ALSO PRESENT                                                                   
                                                                               
Jerry Burnett, Staff, Senator Randy Phillips; Janice Adair,                    
Director, Division of Environmental Health, Department of                      
Environmental Conservation; Mike Tibbles, Staff,                               
Representative Gene Therriault; Senator Dave Donley; Shari                     
Paul, Special Assistant, Children's Trust, Office of the                       
Governor; John Manley, Staff, Representative Terry Martin;                     
Ted Deats, Staff, Representative Terry Martin;                                 
Representative Joe Ryan; David Pree, Staff, Representative                     
Joe Ryan; Juanita Hensley, Division of Motor Vehicles,                         
Department of Administration; Sid Heidersdorf, Alaskans for                    
Life, Juneau; E. Betty Hall, Black Americans for Life,                         
Juneau; Loraine Derr, Alaska State Hospital and Nursing                        
Home Association, Juneau; Sarah Felix, Assistant Attorney                      
General, Department of Law; Anne Carpeneti, Assistant                          
Attorney General, Department of Law.                                           
                                                                               
TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                   
                                                                               
Dr. Gerald Phillips, Radiologist, Valley Hospital, Matsu;                      
Dr. William Resinger, Radiologist, Valley Hospital, Matsu;                     
Janet Oates, Director, Marketing and Government Relations,                     
Providence Hospital, Anchorage; Jennifer Rudinger,                             
Executive Director, Alaska Civil Liberties Union (AKCLU),                      
Anchorage.                                                                     
                                                                               
SUMMARY                                                                        
                                                                               
HB 144 An Act authorizing the Department of                                    
Environmental Conservation to charge certain fees                              
relating to registration of pesticides and                                     
broadcast chemicals; and providing for an                                      
effective date.                                                                
                                                                               
HB 144 was HELD in Committee for further                                       
consideration.                                                                 
                                                                               
HB 252 An Act relating to criminal records; relating to                        
notice about and registration of sex offenders                                 
and child kidnappers; and amending Rules 11(c)                                 
and 32(c), Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure.                                 
                                                                               
HB 252 was HELD in Committee for further                                       
consideration.                                                                 
                                                                               
SB 157 An Act establishing a children's trust motor                            
vehicle registration plate.                                                    
                                                                               
 CSSB 157 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with                             
individual recommendations and with a fiscal note                              
by the Department of Administration dated                                      
1/23/98.                                                                       
                                                                               
SB 221 An Act relating to negatively amortizing loans                          
originated under a program approved or sponsored                               
by the state or federal government.                                            
                                                                               
HCS CSSB 221(FIN) was reported out of Committee                                
with a "do pass" recommendation and with a fiscal                              
note by the Department of Commerce and Economic                                
Development dated 1/27/98.                                                     
                                                                               
HJR 5 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the                        
State of Alaska relating to freedom of                                         
conscience.                                                                    
                                                                               
 HJR 5 was HELD in Committee for further                                       
consideration.                                                                 
SENATE BILL NO. 221                                                            
                                                                               
                                                                               
"An Act relating to negatively amortizing loans                                
originated under a program approved or sponsored by                            
the state or federal government."                                              
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault stated that the committee work draft                       
for SB 221, 0-LS1024\H, Cook, 3/26/98, specifies                               
requirements which include the State with language added                       
from the Fannie Mae program.                                                   
                                                                               
JERRY BURNETT, STAFF, SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS, noted that                       
additional language had been drafted by Legal Services and                     
was taken from provisions which govern the federal Fannie                      
Mae program.                                                                   
                                                                               
Representative Martin MOVED that work draft, 0-LS1024\H,                       
Cook, 3/26/98, be the version before the Committee.  There                     
being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                            
                                                                               
Representative Martin MOVED to report HCS CSSB 221 (FIN)                       
out of Committee with individual recommendations and with                      
the accompanying fiscal note.  There being NO OBJECTION, it                    
was so ordered.                                                                
                                                                               
HCS CSSB 221 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "do                    
pass" recommendation and with a zero fiscal note by the                        
Department of Commerce and Economic Development dated                          
1/27/98.                                                                       
HOUSE BILL NO. 144                                                             
                                                                               
"An Act authorizing the Department of Environmental                            
Conservation to charge certain fees relating to                                
registration of pesticides and broadcast chemicals;                            
and providing for an effective date."                                          
                                                                               
Representative Grussendorf MOVED to adopt Amendment #7.                        
[Copy on File].  He noted that the amendment would remove                      
the repealer.  The industry as well as the municipalities                      
approve of this approach.  Co-Chair Therriault indicated                       
support for the amendment.  There being NO OBJECTION,                          
Amendment #7 was adopted.                                                      
                                                                               
Representative J. Davies requested that Amendment #13                          
replace the old Amendment #10.  [Copies on File].                              
Representative J. Davies MOVED to adopt new Amendment #10.                     
                                                                               
MIKE TIBBLES, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE GENE THERRIAULT,                           
commented that the amendment would change the definition of                    
"actual direct costs" which would move it toward the                           
average so that the Department would be able to establish                      
fixed fees.  Co-Chair Therriault suggested that an average                     
salary fee would be determined by classification of the                        
work.                                                                          
                                                                               
JANICE ADAIR, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH,                      
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, noted currently                      
that already occurs.                                                           
                                                                               
There being NO OBJECTION, Amendment #10 was adopted.                           
                                                                               
Ms. Adair spoke to the fiscal note.  She stated that the                       
Department was waiting to see the final version of the bill                    
before completing the note. She estimated the note would be                    
approximately $1.6 million dollars, and would change from                      
general fund program receipts to straight general funds.                       
The biggest change would be the exclusion of overhead and                      
other costs associated with service to capture fees.                           
                                                                               
Representative J. Davies asked who would benefit the most                      
from the reduction in fees.  Ms. Adair stated that the                         
largest switch would be to the seafood and sanitation                          
component.  Seafood processors and food service facilities                     
will see their fees change the most.  Additional changes                       
will be to the water Program.                                                  
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault stated that the bill would be HELD in                      
Committee until the fiscal note was completed.                                 
                                                                               
HB 144 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                        
SENATE BILL NO. 157                                                            
                                                                               
"An Act establishing a children's trust motor vehicle                          
registration plate."                                                           
                                                                               
SENATOR DAVE DONLEY commented that SB 157 would establish a                    
motor vehicle registration plate that the Division of Motor                    
Vehicles (DMV) would design and issue to represent the                         
Alaska Children's Trust.  He commented that this action                        
would allow the Legislature to appropriate funds received                      
from the sale of these registration plates into the                            
principal of the Alaska Children's Trust.                                      
                                                                               
Representative Martin voiced concern with the State                            
becoming a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations.  Co-                        
Chair Therriault clarified that the money would accrue into                    
the general fund and that the Legislature would deposit it                     
into the Children's Trust.  He advised that the Trust is                       
not a charitable organization.                                                 
                                                                               
Senator Donley commented that the Child's Trust had been                       
created by statute.  The revenue from the corpus would                         
allow the Children's Trust Board to administer grants for                      
child protection purposes, promoting children in the State.                    
It will be subject to Legislative appropriation.                               
                                                                               
JUANITA HENSLEY, DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES, DEPARTMENT OF                     
ADMINISTRATION, commented that the Division currently has                      
45 different license plates in stock.  In response to                          
Representative Martin, Ms. Hensley noted the the revenue                       
from the University plates goes back into the University's                     
budget and that revenue received from the Veterans plates                      
goes directly into the general fund.  The University plate                     
has been the only plate to date which generates income                         
specifically for the authority represented.  The cost range                    
of plates is between $30 to $50 dollars per set.                               
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault questioned the $5 thousand dollars                         
which had been allocated for graphic design.  He noted that                    
Senator Donley had suggested that there could be a contest                     
to create the design.  Ms. Hensley replied that the                            
Division would have to work with the plate manufacturers to                    
assure the quality of the product made.                                        
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault asked why the fiscal note did not                          
indicate the anticipated revenue.  Ms. Hensley responded                       
that it is difficult to predict the volume of specialty                        
plates which will sell.  Consequently, the anticipated                         
revenue was asterisked.                                                        
                                                                               
Representative Martin asked if the State would be                              
reimbursed for the initial costs.  Ms. Hensley advised such                    
action would be the call of the Legislature.  Senator                          
Donley pointed out that language had been addressed on Page                    
2, Section 2.  Ms. Hensley stressed that it is imperative                      
during Conference Committee that the fiscal note be funded.                    
She stressed that the Division does not have enough                            
existing funds to substantiate the legislation.                                
                                                                               
SHARI PAUL, SPECIAL ASSISTANT, CHILDREN'S TRUST, OFFICE OF                     
THE GOVERNOR, explained that the primary purpose of the                        
Alaska Children's Trust is to work in partnership with                         
communities, private business, and government to reduce and                    
prevent child abuse, neglect, and family violence.  The                        
Children's Trust will improve the status of children in                        
Alaska by generating funds and committing resources to                         
promote healthy families and by assisting in developing                        
healthy communities.                                                           
                                                                               
Representative J. Davies MOVED to report CSSB 157 (FIN) out                    
of Committee with individual recommendations and with the                      
accompanying fiscal note.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was                    
adopted.                                                                       
                                                                               
CSSB 157 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with                              
individual recommendations and with a fiscal note by the                       
Department of Administration.                                                  
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 5                                                   
                                                                               
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the                              
State of Alaska relating to freedom of conscience.                             
                                                                               
JOHN MANLEY, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE TERRY MARTIN, opened by                     
asking, "What is meant when we say 'Freedom of                                 
conscience'?"  The United States is a nation founded on the                    
freedom of religion; it is fundamental to the many                             
institutions we have grown up with and take for granted.                       
Mr. Manley pointed out that freedom of religion is not for                     
any specific sect, but for all religions, and recognizes                       
those basic tenets of many religions as a foundation to our                    
society.                                                                       
                                                                               
He continued, what is it to claim freedom of religion if                       
one is not able to act upon their conscience when religious                    
beliefs collide with the secular world?  He suggested that                     
the freedom to act in accordance with one's religious and                      
moral beliefs is a fundamental precept of freedom of                           
religion.                                                                      
                                                                               
(Tape Change HFC 98- 78, Side 2).                                              
                                                                               
Mr. Manley continued, in Alaska, we have been careful to                       
articulate the rights of the individual, through both the                      
Alaska and the US Constitutions.  In 1972, we added to the                     
State Constitution, the right to privacy.  Perhaps the                         
right to freedom of conscience has simply been taken for                       
granted, as implied by the protection of the freedom of                        
religion, or as codified in Alaska Statutes.                                   
                                                                               
Mr. Manley noted that having the freedom of conscience in                      
statute has not been sufficient and court challenges have                      
sought to compromise individual Alaskans to perform actions                    
which they personally object to as a matter of conscience.                     
Specifically, providers of medical services, such as                           
doctors and nurses, have been forced to perform or                             
participate in certain medical procedures such as                              
abortions, even though they are morally opposed.  Mr.                          
Manley feared that today's new emphasis on assisted suicide                    
could well become public policy, mandated by the courts or                     
the legislature.                                                               
                                                                               
He added that any convoluted rationalization of a social                       
policy which forces a person to participate in what he or                      
she considers to be murder puts Alaska at the doorstep of                      
Nazi Germany of the 1930's or of the several despotism's                       
from the 1930's through the 1990's.                                            
                                                                               
Mr. Manley summarized that by adding the protection                            
proposed in HJR 5 to the Alaska Constitution, would make it                    
clear that Alaskans enjoy complete freedom of conscience as                    
well as freedom of religion.  He urged the Committee                           
support of the resolution.                                                     
                                                                               
Representative Kelly inquired if the freedom of conscience                     
clause in other state constitutions had caused any                             
significant challenges.                                                        
                                                                               
TED DEATS, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE TERRY MARTIN, replied that                    
those situations appear to have been stopped at the lower                      
court level.  There are seventeen other states which have                      
the freedom of conscience option.  Courts and lawmakers are                    
competent to separate actions protected by freedom of                          
conscience.                                                                    
                                                                               
Mr. Deats stated that the legislation had resulted from a                      
situation that occurred at Valley Hospital in Matsu last                       
year.  Resulting from a court decision, that hospital was                      
forced to perform medical practices which were against its                     
policy.  Nurses and other health care professionals are                        
particularly vulnerable because they hold subordinate                          
positions.                                                                     
                                                                               
Representative Kelly agreed that freedom of conscience                         
could be included in freedom of religion. Representative                       
Grussendorf pointed out that the constitution is required                      
to protect the public from acts of government or their                         
agents.                                                                        
                                                                               
DR. GERALD PHILLIPS, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),                           
RADIOLOGIST, VALLEY HOSPITAL, MATSU, testified in support                      
of the proposed legislation.  He provided graphic examples                     
which hospital staff had found themselves involved and in                      
which they had no recourse to exercise freedom of                              
conscience.  Dr. Phillips noted that the hospital had lost                     
technical staff because of involvement in abortive                             
situations.                                                                    
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault asked how the hospital staff would                         
exercise the rights as proposed in HJR 5.  Dr. Phillips                        
suggested that the pre-abortion patient could be sent to                       
another clinic that supports abortions for ultra sound.                        
Dr. Phillips noted that the hospital should rely on the                        
referring physician to indicate if the work to be performed                    
would be for a pre-abortive circumstance.                                      
                                                                               
Representative Martin advised that most often it is known                      
who the abortionists are.  He asserted that a doctor's                         
license should not be threatened when that doctor is not                       
willing to participate in abortion preparation.                                
                                                                               
Representative J. Davies asked Dr. Phillips if he knew any                     
doctor who the State had threatened to revoke their license                    
for unwillingness to participate in this practice.  Dr.                        
Phillips acknowledged that he was not aware of any threats                     
to any doctors as a result of this.                                            
                                                                               
Representative Grussendorf commented that it should not be                     
assumed that physicians, who do perform abortion services,                     
perform only that service and that all their patients be                       
"blanketed" for any hospital service they may need.  Dr.                       
Phillips indicated that to his knowledge, there had only                       
been three situations at Valley Hospital in which the staff                    
considered opting for the right to exercise the freedom of                     
conscience.                                                                    
                                                                               
DR. WILLIAM RESINGER, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),                          
RADIOLOGIST, VALLEY HOSPITAL, MATSU, spoke in support of                       
the proposed resolution.  He noted that he had taken the                       
Hypnocratic Oath in 1969, which forbids abortions and                          
euthanasia.  He added, that he strongly supports a                             
constitutional amendment because of his fear that an                           
activist judge could eventually mandate doctors and staff                      
to perform actions against their conscience.                                   
                                                                               
JANET OATES, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), DIRECTOR,                         
MARKETING AND GOVERNMENT RELATIONS, PROVIDENCE HOSPITAL,                       
ANCHORAGE, stated that Providence Hospital supports HJR 5.                     
She believed that it should be an issue of choice to                           
perform procedures which do not conform to one's ethical                       
values.                                                                        
                                                                               
JENNIFER RUDINGER, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),                             
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ALASKA CIVIL LIBERITIES UNION (ACLU),                      
ANCHORAGE, spoke in opposition to HJR 5.  She pointed out                      
that HJR 5 is very vague and voiced concern on how it could                    
be construed by a judge or court.  She stated that it was                      
an "anarchy" amendment, which could cover any assumption                       
made by anyone, which they claimed would be against their                      
conscience.                                                                    
                                                                               
Ms. Rudinger exposed some of the myths which have                              
surrounded the Valley Hospital case.  She denied that any                      
of the hospital staff had been requested to participate in                     
an abortion procedure.  She quoted a specific judgement                        
handed down by the courts expressing that any person at                        
that hospital would not be required to participate in such                     
activity.                                                                      
                                                                               
The Supreme Court decision stated that hospital could not                      
have a policy banning abortions if there was a doctor on                       
staff willing to perform them.  The court based it decision                    
on the fact that a woman's right to make that choice is a                      
fundamental right.                                                             
                                                                               
She added that Valley Hospital was a non-sectarian hospital                    
built with State funds.  The hospital does not have the                        
right to assert a religious base for enforcing the abortion                    
policy, whereas, privately funded hospitals are not covered                    
by that provision.                                                             
                                                                               
Ms. Rudinger recommended that the Legislature should                           
instead pass a safe Religious Freedom Restoration Act                          
(RIFRA) exemption to State law so as to protect the                            
religious right.  She noted that the ACLU had supported the                    
federal RIFRA, although, it was struck down in the Supreme                     
Court.  Ms. Rudinger reiterated that the proposed amendment                    
was too broad to be presented to the Alaskan voters.                           
                                                                               
Representative Martin recommended that Ms. Rudinger read                       
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's writing on the freedom of                        
conscience.  He asked why should religious institution have                    
a higher voice of freedom than a public institution.  He                       
disagreed to the fact that if a person was not attached to                     
a religious group, in current law, they can not exercise                       
freedom of conscience.  Ms. Rudinger reiterated that the                       
proposal is very vague.  She urged that a more narrow                          
definition be drafted.                                                         
                                                                               
(Tape Change HFC 98- 79, Side 1).                                              
                                                                               
Representative Kelly asked if a RIFRA would be able to                         
address the concern proposed by Representative Martin.  Ms.                    
Rudinger replied that the only reason that the RIFRA had                       
been struck down in Court was because it exceeded its                          
enforcement power.                                                             
                                                                               
She noted that the ACLU supports religious freedom as long                     
as it is specifically defined.  Representative Kelly asked                     
if there was proposed language submitted by the ACLU, which                    
could narrow the legislation.  Ms. Rudinger replied  not at                    
this time.  Representative J. Davies commented that the                        
difference between proposed HJR 5 and the various RIFRA, is                    
that within the RIFRA, there exists an explicate direction                     
as to how the individual, the state and the government                         
would be balanced.                                                             
                                                                               
SIDNEY HEIDERSDORF, PRESIDENT, ALASKANS FOR LIFE, INC.,                        
JUNEAU, noted that his organization supports HJR 5 which he                    
felt was of fundamental importance to the protection of                        
Alaskan's rights.                                                              
                                                                               
He stated that the legislation would not open the gates to                     
unlawful acts based on conscience because:                                     
                                                                               
1. A freedom of conscience amendment to the                                    
constitution does not break new ground or unknown                              
territory.  It is too late to claim that a                                     
freedom of conscience clause in our constitution                               
will cause chaos.                                                              
2. The proposed amendment does not give license for                            
just any kind of behavior.  The purpose of the                                 
freedom of conscience clause is to protect                                     
individuals from the tyranny of government                                     
requiring them to act in a manner they consider                                
to be in violation of their conscience.                                        
                                                                               
Mr. Heidersdorf stated that his immediate concern was in                       
regard to abortion and physician assisted                                      
suicide/euthanasia.  The amendment would pre-empt such                         
events from occurring.  He stated that Alaskans should be                      
given the opportunity to decide this issue as submitted in                     
the proposed resolution.                                                       
                                                                               
Mr. Heidersdorf noted that there is concern for future                         
situations in which court pressure could build to provide                      
more access to abortion.  Representative J. Davies                             
countered that the intent of the law is that the State not                     
place barriers on a person exercising a legal right.  The                      
State is attempting to protect the existing rights of the                      
individual.  He emphasized that there is nothing in the law                    
requiring the individual to participate against their                          
conscience.  Representative J. Davies reiterated that there                    
is no trend occurring contrary at this time.                                   
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault questioned if there was a problem in                       
tempering the right to privacy.  He noted that some concern                    
has been expressed preventing any further expansion of the                     
right to privacy.                                                              
                                                                               
Representative Kelly remarked that there exists problems in                    
the Alaska State Courts regarding the right to privacy and                     
delineating between actions in law which are prohibitive,                      
and actions in law that are preferred.  He stated that with                    
this legislation, "tolerated" would be removed and the                         
right to privacy would be preferred.  He feared that the                       
courts are vastly expanding the right to privacy.                              
Representative J. Davies disagreed with Representative                         
Kelly in respect to abortion funding as the establishment                      
of preference.  He suggested that it is the other way                          
around and that if medical services are being provided to                      
pregnant women, those services can not be discriminated                        
against based on religion.  It will be protected, as it is                     
a service provided by the State.  He emphasized that                           
everyone must be treated equally.                                              
                                                                               
E. BETTY HALL, BLACK AMERICANS FOR LIFE, JUNEAU, testified                     
in support of the legislation.  She stated that she is not                     
a Christian and is not affiliated to any organized                             
religion, but that she opposes abortion for moral reasons.                     
                                                                               
LORAINE DERR, ALASKA STATE HOSPITAL AND NURSING HOME                           
ASSOCIATION (ASHNHA), JUNEAU, spoke in opposition to the                       
proposed legislation.  She pointed out that her membership                     
was directly involved in the Valley Hospital situation and                     
that the whole abortion issue is extremely pertinent to                        
ASHNHA.  ASHNHA members believe that the freedom of                            
conscience issue is too broad, therefore, members oppose                       
the proposed language of the legislation.  She noted that                      
opposing the language does not suggest that ASHNHA is                          
against any new language regarding a constitutional                            
amendment and that the Association would like to see                           
language more narrowly defined regarding the right to                          
privacy.                                                                       
                                                                               
Discussion followed between Ms. Derr and Representative                        
Martin regarding the possible wording of the amendment.                        
                                                                               
SARAH FELIX, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, GOVERNMENTAL                          
AFFAIRS DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, spoke to the                              
Department's concern with the proposed legislation.  She                       
stated that the legislation would allow a person to act                        
according to his or her own conscience without regard to                       
the collective will of the people as expressed in the law.                     
                                                                               
Ms. Felix added that the Department is concerned that HJR 5                    
would open up a "Pandora's Box" in epic portion which could                    
lead to anarchy.  Civil and criminal laws could be violated                    
and the person breaking the law could claim justification                      
based upon the individual's conscience belief that they had                    
the right to break the law.                                                    
                                                                               
The freedom of conscience in the context of religion,                          
already established in the federal constitution, has been                      
recognized that the State may impose limits on a person's                      
action resulting from a person's religious belief while the                    
protection of a person's right to believe is absolute.                         
                                                                               
However, HJR 5 specifically protects a person's actions                        
which could impact the State's ability to enforce important                    
laws.  The Department is concerned that HJR 5 is wide and                      
over-broad and could be construed as granting broader                          
rights than currently are recognized under the 1st                             
amendment to the US Constitution, Freedom of Religion.                         
Neither the terms nor the legislative record have been                         
significantly developed to allow for enforcement or                            
interpretation of what this provision means.  She                              
summarized that the Department foresees a flood of                             
litigation resulting from enacting HJR 5.                                      
                                                                               
Representative Martin asked if the Courts could narrow the                     
people's choice only to freedom of religion.  Ms. Felix                        
replied that the reference to religion was made only to set                    
the proposal in context.  She stated that freedom of                           
religion generally does include freedom of conscience.                         
Without that context, there is no indication how a court                       
would interpret it.                                                            
                                                                               
Representative Kelly pointed out that there are other                          
states which do have a freedom of conscience provision.  He                    
asked how they had addressed the circumstance.  Ms. Felix                      
responded that in the U.S. Digest, which she used for                          
reference, places freedom of religion and freedom of                           
conscience together.  Most of the other states, which have                     
a freedom of conscience provision, have it under the                           
freedom of religion clause in their constitution.  Ms.                         
Felix advised that HJR 5 appears to go beyond that,                            
offering a broader protection.                                                 
                                                                               
Representative Martin spoke to the need to broaden the                         
terms of constitutional freedom in State legislation and                       
the constitution.  Ms. Felix advised that legislation                          
addressing this matter would be preferable and more                            
workable than a constitutional amendment.                                      
                                                                               
HJR 5 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                         
HOUSE BILL NO. 252                                                             
                                                                               
"An Act relating to criminal records; relating to                              
notice about and registration of sex offenders and                             
child kidnappers; and amending Rules 11(c) and 32(c),                          
Alaska  Rules of Criminal Procedure."                                          
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOE RYAN advised that HB 252 was offered to                     
intensify sex offender and kidnapper registration statutes                     
and the registration process in order to better protect                        
citizens from convicted criminals.                                             
                                                                               
The intent of the legislation is to comply with recent                         
changes to the law including Department of Justice, Office                     
of the Attorney General, the Jacob Wetterling Act, so that                     
Alaska remains eligible to receive $200 thousand dollars                       
from the feds through the Byrne Formula Grant.                                 
                                                                               
Representative Ryan noted that the bill would allow for:                       
                                                                               
? A two-tier system put in place for offenders that                            
fail to register, fail to register properly or                                 
fail to re-register and who are guilty of a first                              
offense Class A misdemeanor.                                                   
? Persons responsible for hiring and employing                                 
people who will have access to current and                                     
criminal histories.                                                            
? An offender who registers while in the 30 days of                            
sentencing, thus, eliminating the opportunity to                               
fail to register and providing for a dramatic                                  
reduction in reporting times for re-registration                               
and change of address.                                                         
? The length of time a sex offender or a child                                 
kidnapper must register in order to meet                                       
requirements of the US Constitution 14071 as                                   
adjusted and requiring the Department of Public                                
Safety (DPS) to notify the Federal Bureau of                                   
Investigation (FBI) if a sex offender or child                                 
kidnapper does not register or cannot be found or                              
if such a person moves to another state, the FBI                               
and the other state would then be notified.                                    
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault asked if the legislation would bring                       
Alaska into compliance with federal regulations.                               
                                                                               
(Tape Change HFC 98- 79, Side 2).                                              
                                                                               
ANNE CARPENETI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF                      
LAW, replied that the Jacob Wetterling Act does require the                    
State to include sex offender registration, for a child                        
kidnapper or for a person who encourage or forces a 17 or                      
18 year old to engage in prostitution.  These people would                     
be required to register as a sex offender, although,                           
kidnapping would not include acts related to child custody.                    
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault asked the time requirement the State                       
was given to fall into compliance and what would be the                        
potential loss of funding if that was not met.  Ms.                            
Carpeneti remarked that the State receives $200 thousand                       
dollars a year under the Byrne Formula Grant, and that 10%                     
of that total would be lost if the State does not come into                    
compliance with the Wetterling Act.                                            
                                                                               
Ms. Carpeneti advised that Section 6 of the bill was                           
causing confusion.  That section defines the drafting                          
provisions of AS 12.63, relating to a criminal justice                         
information provision.  The section does not define the                        
provisions which require sex offender registration,                            
although, it does define where the State can release that                      
information.                                                                   
                                                                               
Representative J. Davies asked what solicitation or                            
conspiracy would warrant.  Mr. Carpeneti advised that to                       
prove an attempt, there would need to be proof that a                          
substantial step toward the offense had been taken and that                    
the person specifically intended to commit that offense.                       
Clarification of attempt is found in Title 11, Chapter 31.                     
Discussion followed between Representative J. Davies and                       
Ms. Carpeneti regarding the scope of crimes being                              
considered and the rate of recidivism of these crimes.                         
They also discussed the federal requirements of the                            
required registration times associated with such acts.                         
Alaskan law requires that there be a lifetime registration                     
for sex offenders.                                                             
                                                                               
Co-Chair Therriault voiced concern that the kidnapping                         
provision had the same stipulation for registration as a                       
sex offender.  He asked if that was essential to meet                          
federal requirements.  Ms. Carpeneti understood that under                     
federal law, those individuals must be registered,                             
although, they would not have to be registered for any                         
longer than the basic requirement of that law.                                 
                                                                               
Representative J. Davies inquired if under federal law,                        
would non-sexual motivated kidnapping registration be                          
required.  Ms. Carpeneti acknowledged that it would be and                     
that it would be penalized in the same manner as sexually                      
motivated, given up to 10 years.  The Jacob Wettterling Act                    
covers all offenses, which victimize children.  She advised                    
that the State had exceeded the compliance deadline.  Ms.                      
Carpeneti added, for the most part, the Administration is                      
in favor of the proposed legislation.                                          
                                                                               
Representative Ryan recounted that the legislation had been                    
drafted in working with the Administration and the                             
Minority.  He reiterated that passage is essential for the                     
State to qualify for the funding.                                              
                                                                               
HB 252 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                        
ADJOURNMENT                                                                    
                                                                               
The meeting adjourned at 4:20 P.M.                                             
H.F.C. 16 3/26/98                                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects