Legislature(1999 - 2000)

05/10/1999 01:45 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                                         
May 10, 1999                                                                                                                    
1:45 P.M.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TAPE HFC 99 - 122, Side 1.                                                                                                      
TAPE HFC 99 - 122, 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 Foster                                                                                     
Vice Chair Bunde   Representative Grussendorf                                                                                   
Representative G. Davis  Representative Kohring                                                                                 
Representative Austerman  Representative Moses                                                                                  
Representative J. Davies  Representative Williams                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Mulder was not present for the meeting.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Juli Lucky, Staff, Senator Rick Halford; Hans Neidig, Staff,                                                                    
Senator Dave Donley; Dwight Perkins, Deputy Commissioner,                                                                       
Department of Labor; Dean Guaneli, Chief Assistant Attorney                                                                     
General, Criminal Division, Department of Law; Barbara                                                                          
Brink, (Testified via Teleconference), Director, Alaska                                                                         
Public Defender Agency, Anchorage; Catherine Reardon,                                                                           
Director, Division of Occupational Licensing, Department of                                                                     
Commerce and Economic Development; Al Dwyer, Director,                                                                          
Division of Labor Standards and Safety, Department of Labor;                                                                    
Linda Wild, Alaska Dietetic Association, Juneau.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SB 3 An Act relating to the crimes of murder,                                                                                   
solicitation to commit murder in the first degree,                                                                              
manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide;                                                                                
relating to homicides of children; and relating to                                                                              
the crime of interference with custody of a child                                                                               
or incompetent person.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
 HCS CS SB 3 (FIN) was reported out of Committee                                                                                
with a "do pass" recommendation and with two                                                                                    
fiscal notes by the Department of Administration                                                                                
dated 1/25/99, a zero fiscal note by the                                                                                        
Department of Law dated 1/25/99 and a new fiscal                                                                                
note by the Department of Corrections.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SB 50 An Act relating to certain boiler and pressure                                                                            
vessel inspections and inspectors; and providing                                                                                
for an effective date.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
 SB 50am was reported out of Committee with a "do                                                                               
pass" recommendation and with a fiscal note by the                                                                              
Department of Labor dated 2/19/99.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SB 88 An Act relating to licensure of dietitians and                                                                            
nutritionists; and providing for an effective                                                                                   
date.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
 CS SB 88 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with                                                                              
"no recommendation" and with a fiscal note by                                                                                   
Department of Commerce and Economic Development                                                                                 
dated 4/7/99.                                                                                                                   
SENATE BILL NO. 3                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
An Act relating to the crimes of murder, solicitation                                                                           
to commit murder in the first degree, manslaughter, and                                                                         
criminally negligent homicide; relating to homicides of                                                                         
children; and relating to the crime of interference                                                                             
with custody of a child or incompetent person.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
JULI LUCKY, STAFF, SENATOR RICK HALFORD, explained the                                                                          
intent of SB 3 and the changes that it would incorporate                                                                        
into criminal statute.  She pointed out that last year SB 3                                                                     
came through as SB 218.  The current version would:                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
* Add a new form of first degree murder when the                                                                                
death of a child results from the commission or                                                                                 
attempted commission of kidnapping or sexual                                                                                    
offense;                                                                                                                        
* Expands the list of offenses constituting felony                                                                              
murder to include sexual abuse of a minor in the                                                                                
first and second degrees;                                                                                                       
* Adds a new form of second degree murder when a                                                                                
person causes the death of a child with criminal                                                                                
negligence and has a previous felony conviction                                                                                 
against a child;                                                                                                                
* Elevates criminally negligent homicide from a                                                                                 
class C to a class B felony;                                                                                                    
* Establishes a twenty year mandatory minimum                                                                                   
sentence for a person convicted of a murder of a                                                                                
child under the age of sixteen;                                                                                                 
* Increases the mandatory minimum sentence for                                                                                  
manslaughter, when the victim is a child under the                                                                              
age of sixteen;                                                                                                                 
* Establishes a new sentencing provision, which                                                                                 
allows for a term of unsuspended imprisonment that                                                                              
exceeds the presumptive term for certain felony                                                                                 
offenses if the victim is a child under the age of                                                                              
16;                                                                                                                             
* Expands the crime of custodial interference in the                                                                            
first degree to include the act of keeping a child                                                                              
or incompetent person outside of the State;                                                                                     
* Clarifies language in the sex offender registry;                                                                              
and                                                                                                                             
* Elevates solicitation of murder to an unclassified                                                                            
felony.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lucky emphasized that children deserve a responsible                                                                        
level of care when they are entrusted to an adult.  SB 3                                                                        
would accomplish both the goal of deterrence and at the same                                                                    
time would establish punishment more fitting for such crime.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lucky provided a sectional analysis of changes made in                                                                      
the House Judiciary Committee version:                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
 Section 1- States the purpose of Section 15.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Section 2- Increases the penalty for the crime of                                                                               
solicitation of first degree murder from a class A                                                                              
felony to an unclassified felony.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Section 3- Simplifies the language and expands the range                                                                        
of conduct constituting that particular form of first-                                                                          
degree murder.  It would create a new form of first                                                                             
degree murder when the death of a child results from                                                                            
the commission or attempted commission of kidnapping or                                                                         
a sexual offense.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Section 4- Expands the list of offenses constituting                                                                            
felony murder to include sexual abuse of a minor in the                                                                         
first and second degrees and makes causing the death of                                                                         
a child with criminal negligence a form of second                                                                               
degree murder if there is a previous conviction.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Section 5- Increases the penalty for criminally                                                                                 
negligent homicide from a class C to a class B felony.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Section 6- Expands the definition of custodial                                                                                  
interference to include keeping a child or incompetent                                                                          
person outside of the State.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Section 7 & 8-Adds solicitation to commit murder in the                                                                         
first degree and conspiracy to commit murder in the                                                                             
first degree to the listing of unclassified offenses                                                                            
and unclassified felonies.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Section 9- Establishes a mandatory 20 year minimum                                                                              
sentence for the murder of a child under 16 years of                                                                            
age, providing the assailant was a legal guardian,                                                                              
occupied a position of authority, or caused the death                                                                           
of the child by committing a crime against a person.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Section 10-Increases the presumptive penalty for child                                                                          
manslaughter from 5 to 7 years.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Section 11-Allows the courts to sentence a first felony                                                                         
offender convicted of criminally negligent homicide of                                                                          
a child under 16 years of age to a longer sentence than                                                                         
the presumptive sentence for a second or third felony                                                                           
offender convicted of the same crime.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Sections 12, 13 & 14-Adds sections to the definition of                                                                         
aggravated sex offense in the definition sections of                                                                            
the sex offender registration statutes.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Section 15-Clarifies that the definition for                                                                                    
"conviction" in the Sex Offender Registry Statutes.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Sections 16 & 17- Bifurcates applicability of the act.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Section 18-Definition for conviction in the sex                                                                                 
offender registry statutes applies to convictions that                                                                          
occurred before, on or after the effective date.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Section 19-Immediate effective date.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DEAN GUANELI, CHIEF ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, CRIMINAL                                                                        
DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, noted that the Department of                                                                       
Law supports the legislation. He advised that portions of                                                                       
the bill were part of HB 375 sponsored by the Governor last                                                                     
year.  The provisions had been struck from the Governor's                                                                       
bill and were then placed in a separate Senate bill which                                                                       
did not pass.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Guaneli advised that that there is a perception that                                                                        
some homicide crimes committed against children are not                                                                         
treated as seriously as homicide committed against adults.                                                                      
That is the primary basis for the bill.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BARBARA BRINK, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), DIRECTOR,                                                                        
ALASKA PUBLIC DEFENDER AGENCY, ANCHORAGE, commented that the                                                                    
law already recognizes that the death of a child is a                                                                           
significant event.  In statutes passed by the  Legislature,                                                                     
there is a stipulation called an "aggravating factor"                                                                           
indicating vulnerable victims including children.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Brink pointed out that Alaska has a clearly defined                                                                         
system of homicide statutes that determines what level of                                                                       
responsibility a person should be held accountable for,                                                                         
based on their mental condition at the time of the crime.                                                                       
She believed that the proposed legislation could be                                                                             
dangerous as it would create a special category for offenses                                                                    
based simply upon the status of the victim.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Brink addressed specific provisions and concerns of the                                                                     
proposed bill.  Section 5 would make criminal negligent                                                                         
homicide a class B felony, which currently, it is a class C                                                                     
felony, which means if a careless act were committed                                                                            
resulting in a death, the proposed legislation would change                                                                     
the amount of time that the person would be required to                                                                         
serve.  If it were the intent to create additional degree of                                                                    
homicide, that would make sense.  She observed that there                                                                       
are situations in which someone has acted negligently and                                                                       
that it would not be appropriate to charge them with a class                                                                    
B felony.  That could result in a ten-year prison sentence.                                                                     
Additionally, Ms. Brink pointed out that Section 5 speaks to                                                                    
"any death", not just the death of a child.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Brink continued, Section 15 would change the definition                                                                     
of conviction.  The intention of the provision would be to                                                                      
enlarge that group which occupies the sex offender                                                                              
registration laws.  She stated that change could have                                                                           
serious constitutional and protection problems.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Guaneli spoke in response to the concerns voiced by Ms.                                                                     
Brink on Section 5.  He noted that there is a "gap" in State                                                                    
law, indicating that it is not a fair characterization that                                                                     
would be "careless" killing.  The legislation would increase                                                                    
the criminal negligent homicide class to a B felony to fill                                                                     
the middle category.  He advised that the class C felony                                                                        
would be the same penalty for stealing a $500 dollar                                                                            
television.  That gap needs to be addressed.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative J. Davies asked if there were examples of                                                                        
criminally negligent homicides that should remain class C                                                                       
felonies.  Mr. Guaneli replied that criminally negligent                                                                        
homicide is not a common occurrence.  The "shaking of a                                                                         
baby" to death would be an instance.  He reiterated that                                                                        
there are homicides which fall under unusual circumstances.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
In response to Representative J. Davies, Mr. Guaneli                                                                            
explained the difference between the penalties for class C                                                                      
versus class B charges.  A class C felony would be 0 - 5                                                                        
prison years and a class B felony could be 0 - 10 prison                                                                        
years.  The average sentence that someone serves for a class                                                                    
C felony is roughly six months to one year; the average                                                                         
sentence served for a class B felony is 1 to 3 year for a                                                                       
first time offender.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Guaneli advised that "other" provisions on Page 3 would                                                                     
establish sentencing for criminal negligence and reckless                                                                       
killings of young children where there existed a previous                                                                       
incidence, which would elevates it to a 2nd degree murder                                                                       
charge.  Section 5 is a stand-alone provision and relates to                                                                    
all other criminally negligent homicides.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault MOVED to adopt Amendment #1.  [Copy on                                                                      
File].  He commented that the amendment would provide                                                                           
clarification of language on Page 2, Line 27.  There being                                                                      
NO OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster MOVED to report HCS CS SB 3 (FIN) out                                                                     
of Committee with individual recommendations and with the                                                                       
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HCS CS SB 3 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "do                                                                      
pass" recommendation and with fiscal notes by Department of                                                                     
Corrections, two by the Department of Administration dated                                                                      
1/25/99 and a zero note by the Department of Law dated                                                                          
1/25/99.                                                                                                                        
SENATE BILL NO. 50                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
An Act relating to certain boiler and pressure vessel                                                                           
inspections and inspectors; and providing for an                                                                                
effective date.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DWIGHT PERKINS, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR,                                                                       
noted that the Department is currently severely backlogged                                                                      
in its inspections of boilers and pressure vessels.  Of the                                                                     
6,000 vessels that are overdue for inspection, over half are                                                                    
of this type.  The proposed legislation would allow the                                                                         
Commissioner to identify certain state employees as approved                                                                    
inspectors for the purpose of performing routine annual                                                                         
inspections on this type of overdue vessel.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Perkins suggested that this action would free up the                                                                        
National Board approved boiler inspectors to address those                                                                      
vessels that are of a larger, more complex nature, such as                                                                      
high capacity pressure vessels and large capacity commercial                                                                    
and industrial boilers.  This strategy should assist the                                                                        
Department in addressing the backlog of boilers and pressure                                                                    
vessels that are overdue for inspection.  The legislation                                                                       
will allow cross training and more efficient utilization of                                                                     
existing staff to benefit of the public.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
In response to Co-Chair Therriault's query, Mr. Perkins                                                                         
stated that the size of the projects would be six-plex or                                                                       
small commercial buildings.  He reiterated that the high-                                                                       
pressure steam and boiler inspectors would be freed up.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative J. Davies asked if the problem resulted from                                                                     
the positions not being authorized or cut from the operating                                                                    
budget.  Mr. Perkins replied that the Department does not                                                                       
have the authorization for the positions while at the same                                                                      
time suffer from a severe backlog.  The intent is to                                                                            
increase inspections biannually.  Currently, they are                                                                           
serviced annually.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
AL DWYER, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF LABOR STANDARDS AND SAFETY,                                                                     
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, added that the backlog could be                                                                            
partially addressed within six months.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster voiced concern with the workload of                                                                       
plumbing inspectors in his area.  Mr. Dwyer replied that the                                                                    
Department's plumbing inspectors are generally located in                                                                       
the major city hubs such as Anchorage and Fairbanks from                                                                        
which they fly into the smaller communities to perform                                                                          
inspections.  The Department attempts to utilize employees                                                                      
fully while they are on the road.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster noted his concern with the boiler                                                                         
situation in Bush area schools.  He recommended that schools                                                                    
receive priority inspections.  Mr. Dwyer noted that the                                                                         
Department prioritizes all jobs in all communities.  He                                                                         
acknowledged that there had been five boiler-related fires                                                                      
in Representative Foster's area, and that four had been                                                                         
related to arson.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Dwyer addressed the fiscal note.  He commented that the                                                                     
change would allow the Department to increase efficiency by                                                                     
better utilizing the skills of the existing inspector                                                                           
personnel.  By having certain State employees perform                                                                           
limited boiler inspections on a part-time basis, the current                                                                    
rate of growth in inspection backlog should be stopped and a                                                                    
positive reduction of the existing backlog could be                                                                             
achieved.  Inspections performed by inspectors are expected                                                                     
to generate additional receipts.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster MOVED to report SB 50am out of                                                                            
Committee with individual recommendations and with the                                                                          
accompanying fiscal note.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was                                                                     
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SB 50am was reported out of Committee with a "do pass"                                                                          
recommendation and with a fiscal note by the Department of                                                                      
Labor dated 2/19/99.                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 88                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
An Act relating to licensure of dietitians and                                                                                  
nutritionists; and providing for an effective date.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HANS NEIDIG, STAFF, SENATOR DAVE DONLEY, stated that SB 88                                                                      
would codify professional title licensure of dietitians and                                                                     
nutritionists, while helping to ensure the quality of such                                                                      
services and protecting consumers.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SB 88 represents sound public policy because it protects                                                                        
Alaskans from the potential harm that could be caused by                                                                        
untrained individuals working in the field.  This would be                                                                      
accomplished by having standards which differentiate between                                                                    
individuals who are qualified nutritionists and dietitians                                                                      
and those who are not.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Neidig noted that SB 88 contains provisions which ensure                                                                    
that individuals practicing nutrition, obtain a bachelor's,                                                                     
masters or doctoral degrees from an accredited school to                                                                        
work in Alaska.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Neidig advised that the licensing of dietitians and                                                                         
nutritionist enables the public to identify individuals who                                                                     
are qualified by education, experience and examination to                                                                       
provide nutrition care services.  Recognition defines the                                                                       
dietetics and nutrition practice which includes the                                                                             
integration and application of the principles derived from                                                                      
the sciences of nutrition, biochemistry, food physiology,                                                                       
management and behavioral and social sciences to achieve and                                                                    
maintain the health of the citizens of Alaska.  He pointed                                                                      
out that the bill would not establish a new board.  The                                                                         
licensing program will be conducted by the Division of                                                                          
Occupational Licensing and will have no cost to the State.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster asked if the nutritionists that live                                                                      
in village areas would be responsible to fly to Anchorage                                                                       
every couple of years to update their certification.  Mr.                                                                       
Neidig replied that there is no examination requirement.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CATHERINE REARDON, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF OCCUPATIONAL                                                                           
LICENSING, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT,                                                                     
corrected that there is an examine for only the initial                                                                         
license; there is no obligation to take it more than once.                                                                      
The applicant will be paying for the national test directly,                                                                    
not through State government and that the test would be                                                                         
offered only in Anchorage.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
(Tape Change HFC 99 - 122, Side 2).                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster voiced concern for those individual                                                                       
nutritionists who have been working in the field, who do not                                                                    
have the accredited dietitian or nutritionist requirements.                                                                     
He asked if they would be "grandfathered" in.  Ms. Reardon                                                                      
stated that would need to be a policy decision for the                                                                          
Legislature.  A "practice" restriction could be placed in                                                                       
the legislation, or employers could have the option to                                                                          
change the titles of those employees.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
LINDA WILD, ALASKA DIETETIC ASSOCIATION, JUNEAU, testified                                                                      
that the Alaska Dietetic Association strongly supports the                                                                      
legislation.  Currently, thirty-nine states have some form                                                                      
of licensing of dietitians and nutritionists.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There are two main reasons for supporting the license                                                                           
dietitians and nutritionists.  The proposed legislation                                                                         
recently reintroduced in Congress that would provide                                                                            
coverage in the outpatient portion of the federally funded                                                                      
Medicare program for medical nutrition therapy services, a                                                                      
75 cent phrase for nutrition therapy, furnished by                                                                              
registered dietitians and qualified nutrition professionals.                                                                    
Currently, Medicare provides reimbursement for nutrition                                                                        
services only in portion A, or in the hospital portion of                                                                       
the program.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Wild continued, the reason dietitians care about this is                                                                    
that the proposed legislation stipulates that reimbursable                                                                      
services be provided by dietitians or nutrition                                                                                 
professionals who are licensed in the states in which they                                                                      
work.  She stressed that dietitians and nutritionists must                                                                      
be part of the health care team, and they need to be                                                                            
licensed.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
The proposed change to Medicare is one of the big reasons                                                                       
there has been a push in recent years to license dietitians                                                                     
and nutritionists, in addition to the increasing emphasis on                                                                    
preventative health care.  Good nutrition is a big part of                                                                      
that prevention.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Wild continued, an additional reason for the requesting                                                                     
the licensure is professional recognition.  Licensure will                                                                      
put nutrition professionals on an equal footing with other                                                                      
professionals.  The bill before the Committee is known as                                                                       
"title licensure" or "title protection".  This means that                                                                       
only those professionals meeting the educational and                                                                            
experience criteria will be licensed as dietitians and                                                                          
nutritionists.  The bill would hold minimum qualifications                                                                      
for professionals in the field and would provide guidance to                                                                    
the public.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Grussendorf asked if there was work                                                                              
experience which could fulfill criteria needed to obtain the                                                                    
license.  Ms. Wild replied that staff working in the school                                                                     
system is not required to be licensed, however, those with                                                                      
job titles of dietitian or nutritionist would need to have                                                                      
the license.  She did not know of any people in the State of                                                                    
Alaska, who had those job titles that would qualify for                                                                         
licensing.  Ms. Wild pointed out that there is another                                                                          
category called "diet tech", which does not require                                                                             
licensure.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault questioned what restrictions would the                                                                      
legislation implement.  Ms. Wild explained that the bill                                                                        
would require any person calling themselves a dietitian or                                                                      
nutritionist be licensed.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
In response to concerns voiced by Representative Foster, Ms.                                                                    
Wild explained that the examination would allow a person to                                                                     
become a registered dietitian.  It could be taken in                                                                            
Anchorage and would be a one time only test.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kohring inquired if industry was requesting                                                                      
the proposed legislation.  Ms. Wild replied that "shock" had                                                                    
been voiced with the $410 biannual fee request, but are                                                                         
confident that will be for the first cycle only.  After                                                                         
that, there will be renewal charges, a more simple process.                                                                     
She advised that there is strong support for the                                                                                
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster MOVED to report CSSB 88 (FIN) out of                                                                      
Committee with individual recommendations and with the                                                                          
accompanying fiscal note.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was                                                                     
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CS SB 88 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with "no                                                                           
recommendation" and with a fiscal note by Department of                                                                         
Commerce and Economic Development dated 4/7/99.                                                                                 
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m.                                                                                              
H.F.C. 10 5/10/99 p.m.                                                                                                          

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