Legislature(2005 - 2006)HOUSE FINANCE 519

03/07/2006 09:00 AM FINANCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 399 ELDER FRAUD AND ASSISTANCE/OPA TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HB 400 CONFISCATION OF FIREARMS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 400(FIN) Out of Committee
+= HB 485 STATE PHARMACISTS/DOCTORS/AUDITOR EXEMPT TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled to 1:30 mtg>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 324 BAN ORANGE HAWKWEED/PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 324(RES) Out of Committee
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       March 7, 2006                                                                                            
                         9:15 A.M.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer called the House  Finance Committee meeting to                                                                   
order at 9:15:57 AM                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Mike Chenault, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Kevin Meyer, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Bill Stoltze, Vice-Chair                                                                                         
Representative Richard Foster                                                                                                   
Representative Mike Hawker                                                                                                      
Representative Jim Holm                                                                                                         
Representative Reggie Joule                                                                                                     
Representative Mike Kelly                                                                                                       
Representative Beth Kerttula                                                                                                    
Representative Bruce Weyhrauch                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carl Moses                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Gabrielle   LeDoux;    Representative   John                                                                   
Coghill;  Sue Wright,  Staff,  Representative Mike  Chenault;                                                                   
Lalanya  Snyder, Staff,  Representative  Mike Chenault;  Josh                                                                   
Fink,  Director, Office  of  Public Advocacy,  Department  of                                                                   
Administration;  Suzanne  Cunningham,  Staff,  Representative                                                                   
Kevin  Meyer;   Dean  Guanelli,  Chief  Assistant   Attorney,                                                                   
Department of Law                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Dan  McDowell,  Self,  Mat-Su;  Ed  Sniffen,  Jr.,  Assistant                                                                   
Attorney General,  Department of Law, Anchorage;  Brian Judy,                                                                   
National Rifle  Association (NRA) Representative  for Alaska,                                                                   
Anchorage                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 324    An  Act  banning  the  importation,  transfer,  and                                                                   
          cultivation of orange hawkweed and purple                                                                             
          loosestrife.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
          CS HB 324 (RES) was reported out of Committee with                                                                    
          a "no recommendation" and with zero note #1 by the                                                                    
          Department of Natural Resources.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HB 399    An Act  establishing the office of  elder fraud and                                                                   
          assistance; and relating to fraud involving older                                                                     
          Alaskans.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
          HB 399 was HEARD & HELD in Committee for further                                                                      
          consideration.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HB 400    An  Act relating to  disasters and confiscation  of                                                                   
          firearms.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
          CS HB 400 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with                                                                    
          a "do pass" recommendation and with zero note #1                                                                      
          by the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 324                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     An Act banning the importation, transfer, and                                                                              
     cultivation of orange hawkweed and purple loosestrife.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:16:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice Chair  Stoltze MOVED to REPORT  HB 324 out  of Committee                                                                   
with  individual recommendations  and  with the  accompanying                                                                   
fiscal note.  Representative Holm OBJECTED.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
He  stated he  had  done research  on  invasive species  from                                                                   
other states.   In the State of  Oregon, a green state, there                                                                   
is a list  of over 100 species  & aurantiacum is  not listed.                                                                   
Some   states  have   an  Invasion   Species  Council,   with                                                                   
authorization  to identify  and  quarantine various  species;                                                                   
enforcement  is generally  the weakest  link in the  process.                                                                   
Oregon relies heavily  on voluntary compliance.   They do not                                                                   
make it a jailed  situation or impose fines.   He argued that                                                                   
HB 324 will be bad policy for the State of Alaska.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Holm WITHDREW his OBJECTION.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly  OBJECTED.    He  asked  if  regulation                                                                   
versus law had been discussed.   Co-Chair Meyer said it could                                                                   
be  addressed either  way  and  left it  up  to the  sponsor.                                                                   
Representative   LeDoux   preferred   it  move   through   as                                                                   
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kelly WITHDREW his OBJECTION.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker  OBJECTED.  He questioned  if the State                                                                   
should impose by  statute, a decision upon a  department.  He                                                                   
said  the  legislation  could   take  the  State  in  a  "bad                                                                   
direction" of public policy, imposing political decisions.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker WITHDREW his  OBJECTION.   There being                                                                   
NO further OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CS HB  324 (RES)  was reported  out of  Committee with  a "no                                                                   
recommendation" and  with zero note  #1 by the  Department of                                                                   
Natural Resources.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE:       9:16:30 AM                                                                                                     
RECONVENE:9:16:41 AM                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 399                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     An Act establishing the office of elder fraud and                                                                          
     assistance; and relating to fraud involving older                                                                          
     Alaskans.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Chenault MOVED  to ADOPT  work draft  #24-LS1517\F,                                                                   
Mischel,  3/06/06, as  the  version of  the  bill before  the                                                                   
Committee.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:22:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUE WRIGHT, STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE MIKE CHENAULT,  spoke to a                                                                   
desperate  situation  currently  existing  in Kenai  for  the                                                                   
McDowell family.  The situation  contains an egregious act of                                                                   
fraud to  the elderly  from a distant  family relative.   She                                                                   
urged  that member's  give attention  to  testimony from  Don                                                                   
McDowell.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Wright  informed  members  that  the  Office  of  Public                                                                   
Advocacy  director,  Josh  Fink,  rose to  the  occasion  and                                                                   
offered assistance to the family.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:25:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LALANYA   SNYDER,   STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE   MIKE   CHENAULT,                                                                   
addressed an article included  in the member's packets, which                                                                   
sheds light on the growing crisis of elder financial fraud.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Snyder explained  that financial abuse takes  many forms,                                                                   
including  credit card  fraud,  real estate  scams,  identity                                                                   
theft and burglary.  Reports of  elder financial exploitation                                                                   
are on the rise.   Forty percent of all reported  elder abuse                                                                   
cases  involve  financial  exploitation,  yet  only  a  small                                                                   
number  are reported.    A study  conducted  by The  National                                                                   
Center on  Elder Abuse (NCEA)  found that for  every reported                                                                   
case of elder abuse, another five cases went unchecked.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Snyder   stated  that   effective  State  responses   to                                                                   
financial exploitation  require collaboration  by a  range of                                                                   
State and  local agencies,  including law enforcement,  adult                                                                   
protective  services,  victim  service agencies  and  private                                                                   
partners.  Coordination  remains a major challenge.   Lack of                                                                   
interagency  coordination means  that victims remain  hidden.                                                                   
HB 399  helps to  ensure the  necessary coordination  between                                                                   
agencies to address  the problem.  Establishing  an Office of                                                                   
Elder  Fraud and  Assistance would  provide elderly  Alaskans                                                                   
the appropriate protection they deserve.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:25:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOSH  FINK,  DIRECTOR,  OFFICE   OF  PUBLIC  ADVOCACY  (OPA),                                                                   
DEPARTMENT  OF  AMINISTRATION,   applauded  the  sponsor  for                                                                   
addressing the  situation endangering elder Alaskans.   There                                                                   
is currently  no agency authorized  to actively  pursue civil                                                                   
remedies on behave of the exploited  person.  The lead agency                                                                   
processing and  investigating the reports of  those crimes is                                                                   
Adult Protective  Services;  they do  not have the  statutory                                                                   
authority to sue on behalf of  any individual.  They can stop                                                                   
the exploitation by  filing a petition with the  court.  They                                                                   
have no ability to recoup losses.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
According to  the director of  Adult Protective  Services, in                                                                   
fiscal year  2005, there were  500 cases of financial  abuse.                                                                   
Each year, there  is a significant increase in  the number of                                                                   
cases; of those cases, approximately  90% have been verified.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
When Adult Protection  Services gets a case,  they attempt to                                                                   
"shop" it around  to the other agencies such  as Alaska Legal                                                                   
Services or anyone  who will take it.  The  legislation would                                                                   
empower  the  Office  of  Public  Advocacy  to  provide  that                                                                   
service  for anyone  over 60  years  old.   It would  provide                                                                   
pursuit for  those not  otherwise able  to bring a  complaint                                                                   
without assistance  and the legislation  would be  defined in                                                                   
regulation.   The legislation will  require OPA to  work with                                                                   
local,  state, national  law enforcement  and social  service                                                                   
agencies to determine cooperative agreements.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Fink  stated that the  legislation provides  recouping of                                                                   
costs if  it does not create  a financial hardship  for those                                                                   
represented.   He  did  not think  they  would collect  fees.                                                                   
These cases  are complex and  are becoming a  growing problem                                                                   
within Alaska.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Fink  pointed out the conservative  fiscal note.   He had                                                                   
attempted  to determine  the national  standard, but  came to                                                                   
find none.   It appears  one attorney  could handle  about 65                                                                   
cases a year; the note requests three.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer  voiced concern with  the note.   He requested                                                                   
that Co-Chair  Chenault, Representative  Hawker and  Mr. Fink                                                                   
work to address associated costs.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:34:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Holm  asked  if  there  could  be  unintended                                                                   
consequences   resulting  from   collecting  fees   from  the                                                                   
perpetrator that extorted the client.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Holm  pointed out  no  note  from the  Public                                                                   
Defender's Agency; he asked if it would be forthcoming.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:36:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Fink  did not anticipate a  note from that Office.   Most                                                                   
cases are generally  not prosecuted, as it does  not create a                                                                   
new  crime.   It is  not  intended to  ask  fees from  anyone                                                                   
experiencing financial hardship.   He imagined that generally                                                                   
no fees would be paid.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:36:21 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly echoed  concern with  the fiscal  note.                                                                   
He worried  about adding a  category, which indicates  anyone                                                                   
over 60  as vulnerable  and unable  to think for  themselves.                                                                   
He disagreed  with that assessment.   He voiced  concern with                                                                   
the switch from civil to criminal  penalties and that passage                                                                   
of the bill would cause unintended consequences.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:41:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Fink shared  those concerns.   He did not want  to set up                                                                   
an  office  and  find  it  overwhelmed.     Adult  Protective                                                                   
Services currently  has 5 investigators.  There  are sidebars                                                                   
in place, which  require that a person be over  60 years old.                                                                   
He  hoped  to reach  an  agreement  making  Adult  Protective                                                                   
Services the "gatekeeper" for referrals.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly reiterated  his concerns, warning  that                                                                   
passage of the bill could become a "nightmare".                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:43:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker commented  on further defining the data                                                                   
point of the "60  years of age or older".   He asked how that                                                                   
number was determined.   That language could carve  out a new                                                                   
social service agency.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Fink  acknowledged  it  was  a  public  policy  question                                                                   
regarding  where  to  cut off.    Adult  Protective  Services                                                                   
recommended  using language  rather  than  60, a  "vulnerable                                                                   
adult", as defined in statute.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:45:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Snyder interjected  that  many  other statutes  use  "60                                                                   
years"  in  regulation.   "Vulnerable  adult"  as  discussed,                                                                   
could begin  at 18 years.   She offered to double  check that                                                                   
information  and come back  with age  specific numbers.   Mr.                                                                   
Fink  pointed  out that  Adult  Protective Services  had  500                                                                   
reports of exploitation  and of those 65% were  over 60 years                                                                   
old.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker asked what  made a person excluded less                                                                   
vulnerable.   Mr. Fink responded  it was an added  sidebar to                                                                   
limit the scope of services.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:46:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAN  MCDOWELL,   (TESTIFIED   VIA  TELECONFERENCE),   MAT-SU,                                                                   
thanked Co-Chair Chenault's office  for all their work on the                                                                   
bill, noting he is a lifetime Alaskan.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr. McDowell  explained that his  father has had  Alzheimer's                                                                   
for seven  years.  A distant  relative from Colorado  came to                                                                   
Alaska to assist  the family.  That caregiver  had his mother                                                                   
sign quick claim deeds to the  family trust and over a period                                                                   
of several months,  he assumed all the family's  property and                                                                   
money.   The relative handed  his parents an  eviction notice                                                                   
and  tied up  all  their  money.   He  has now  leased  their                                                                   
property  and  taken all  the  money  the senior  couple  had                                                                   
saved.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
He stated that  HB 399 addresses concerns for  all seniors in                                                                   
Alaska.   Mr.  McDowell  urged  that the  bill  pass to  help                                                                   
protect  each of  us.   The Federal  Bureau of  Investigation                                                                   
(FBI) assumed that  his parent's case was a civil  case.  Mr.                                                                   
McDowell  agreed that  it is,  but  he thought  it should  be                                                                   
tried as  a criminal case of  fraud.  He stressed  the number                                                                   
of  the  many  vulnerable  Alaskans   and  pleaded  that  the                                                                   
legislation pass from Committee.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:53:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker asked about  creating of an  Office of                                                                   
Elder Fraud.  He asked if the  intent was to go after someone                                                                   
that  legally  committed  a  criminal  activity.    Mr.  Fink                                                                   
replied that  was an  intended subset and  that the  fraud is                                                                   
criminal.    He agreed  one  should  have to  prove  elements                                                                   
beyond a reasonable doubt.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:55:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker  noted  it  could be  both  civil  and                                                                   
criminal.    He   asked  if  the  criminal   level  had  been                                                                   
contemplated in the  fiscal note.  He wondered  if there were                                                                   
existing resources to pursue the  issue.  Mr. Fink hoped that                                                                   
if an  office was  established, there  would be an  agreement                                                                   
with  the  Department   of  Law  for  making   referrals  for                                                                   
prosecution.  The  problem is that it is not  presently being                                                                   
pursued by the law enforcement agencies.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker referenced Section  2, Page  3, asking                                                                   
about cost  recovery.   Mr. Fink  pointed out the  amendment,                                                                   
indicating  three  court  rules, providing  for  recovery  of                                                                   
Court fees.   The  Legislature should  not tinker with  those                                                                   
court rules to craft something to recoup actual costs.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Holm asked  if the  McDowell case  rose to  a                                                                   
criminal level.   Mr.  Fink thought  it should be  classified                                                                   
criminal fraud.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Holm   voiced  concern.    He   advised  that                                                                   
"individuals"  remedy  civil  cases.    If  it  were  a  case                                                                   
affecting  all society,  it would  be criminal.   He did  not                                                                   
think  the  State  should  make  policy  decisions  regarding                                                                   
individual's dealings  with one another.  He  maintained that                                                                   
having State government involved was bad policy.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:00:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Fink  assumed that Adult  Protective Services  would make                                                                   
that  determination.   He referenced  the  McDowell case,  in                                                                   
which  the  wife had  never  been  involved in  the  family's                                                                   
finances and then was signing  all their financial documents.                                                                   
He  believed   it  was  different  than   "buyer's  remorse".                                                                   
Representative  Holm countered that  it would raise  criminal                                                                   
fraud.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Fink stated that fraud is  difficult to prove criminally;                                                                   
these are  rare analogies.  If  there were an analogy  with a                                                                   
different set  of evidence  and proof, it  would not  mean it                                                                   
could not be pursued civilly.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kelly asked how  many states have the proposed                                                                   
law.  Mr.  Fink responded that  he had not contacted  all the                                                                   
states;  however, in  Cook County,  Illinois,  there are  100                                                                   
attorneys in  their fraud unit.   There was no  state exactly                                                                   
the same as proposed in the legislation;  it mostly resembles                                                                   
mixtures and/or combinations of the proposed.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:03:37 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kelly  thought it would be  better legislation                                                                   
if the judgment  took a one third of the recovery.   Mr. Fink                                                                   
agreed that could be a legitimate way to go.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ED SNIFFEN,  JR., (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  ASSISTANT                                                                   
ATTORNEY  GENERAL, DEPARTMENT  OF  LAW,  ANCHORAGE, spoke  to                                                                   
some  possible unintended  consequences.   The Department  of                                                                   
Law  does have  the  jurisdiction to  pursue  cases of  fraud                                                                   
against the  elderly and  do so often.   Those resources  are                                                                   
limited and it is impossible to  act as everyone's individual                                                                   
lawyer.  The  Department focuses their efforts  on fraud that                                                                   
impacts the greater public interest.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
The statutes  contain a provision, which  prevents exercising                                                                   
jurisdiction  over  cases  that   are  regulated  by  another                                                                   
agency.  Mr. Sniffen clarified  that if the legislation moves                                                                   
forward, there would need to be  a provision in the bill that                                                                   
does  not exempt  their office  from prosecuting  fraud.   He                                                                   
recommended  there  be a  provision  that provides  that  the                                                                   
Office of OPA proceed with the investigation.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Sniffen addressed  the line drawn at 60 years  of age and                                                                   
mentioned equal protection concerns  with that language.  Age                                                                   
discrimination  is   forbidden  by  the  constitution.     He                                                                   
recommended using  "vulnerable" adults and offered  to answer                                                                   
questions of the Committee.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Chenault asked  what would  stop the Department  of                                                                   
Law from  making charges in the  McDowell case.   Mr. Sniffen                                                                   
responded  that resources  are a major  consideration  to the                                                                   
Department  in pursuing  that case.   He  understood that  it                                                                   
involved exploitation  to an individual with  Alzheimers.  If                                                                   
it  something unique  and particular  to  an individual,  the                                                                   
Department  would most  likely not  be too  interested.   The                                                                   
Office consists  of three attorneys  and is in charge  of all                                                                   
consumer protection  in the State  of Alaska.  The  office is                                                                   
restricted to focusing efforts on broader scope issues.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Chenault voiced  concern that  the Department  does                                                                   
not look  at all  cases.  He  acknowledged funding  concerns.                                                                   
He noted  that the McDowell  case affects their  entire life.                                                                   
He  realized  that it  is  the  job of  a  private  attorney;                                                                   
however,  most attorneys  would not  be willing  to take  the                                                                   
case without proof of finances.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:11:37 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Sniffen  agreed; he  wished that  their Division  had the                                                                   
resources  necessary  to  pursue  more  cases  on  behalf  of                                                                   
individual  consumers.  He  reiterated that  it is  a funding                                                                   
issue.   He  acknowledged that  should not  detract from  the                                                                   
seriousness of the issue.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:12:58 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Meyer noted  that Representative  Kelly would  join                                                                   
the  group of  Representative Hawker,  Co-Chair Chenault  and                                                                   
Mr. Fink to discuss the legislation.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Meyer  MOVED  to  ADOPT  Conceptual  Amendment  #1.                                                                   
(Copy on File).   Vice Chair Stoltze OBJECTED.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE CUNNINGHAM, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE  KEVIN MEYER, spoke                                                                   
to the  amendment.   She corrected  wording of the  amendment                                                                   
indicating that  it had  been written to  the \F  version, so                                                                   
the line indications would change to Lines 5-6 from 4-5.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer  MOVED the  proposed change.   There  being NO                                                                   
OBJECTION  to that change,  it was  adopted and Amendment  #1                                                                   
was amended.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Cunningham  discussed  the   amendment,  Subsection  (B)                                                                   
regarding theft and related offenses.   In reviewing statute,                                                                   
it was  noted that  the reference  was too  broad.   Speaking                                                                   
with Alaska Legal  Services, it was determined  to be limited                                                                   
to  those  crimes that  specifically  address  potential  for                                                                   
fraud or deceit.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:15:48 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kerttula  understood the  need  to bring  "it                                                                   
down";  she  asked  what  offenses had  been  dropped.    Ms.                                                                   
Cunningham  stated that  criminal  simulation and  defrauding                                                                   
creditors had not been listed and should have been.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer  recommended holding  the amendments  and have                                                                   
the sponsor consider them when discussing the fiscal costs.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer  WITHDRW his MOTION to MOVE  amended Amendment                                                                   
#1.  There being NO OBJECTION, the amendment was WITHDRAWN.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Kelly  inquired   if   providing  half   the                                                                   
requested  fiscal cost, could  some cases  be addressed.   He                                                                   
mentioned  states using  a "criminal  arm" and  asked if  the                                                                   
bill could address that.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:19:37 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Weyhrauch   observed  on  Page   4,  Line  8,                                                                   
"significant" should be deleted.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer stated that HB  399 would be HELD in Committee                                                                   
for further consideration.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:20:47 AM                                                                                                                   
HOUSE BILL NO. 400                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     An Act relating to disasters and confiscation of                                                                           
     firearms.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Vice Chair  Stoltze MOVED to  ADOPT work draft  #24-LS1543\L,                                                                   
Luckhaupt,  3/01/06, as the  version of  the bill before  the                                                                   
Committee.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:21:27 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN COGHILL, SPONSOR,  spoke to the bill.  He                                                                   
commented that HB  400 addresses the right of  people to keep                                                                   
and bear  arms to insure  the security of  a free state.   He                                                                   
noted the  chaos following  Hurricane Katrina, where  various                                                                   
government  agencies made  systematic attempts  to sweep  New                                                                   
Orleans clean  of guns, even if  it meant entering  the homes                                                                   
of law abiding gun owners.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Coghill  stated that National  Guard, federal,                                                                   
state,  or local  law  enforcement  personnel  should not  be                                                                   
allowed  to confiscate  lawfully owned  and lawfully  carried                                                                   
firearms.   HB 400  would make  it a Class  A felony  for any                                                                   
person  to knowingly  confiscate, attempt  to confiscate,  or                                                                   
order  the  confiscation  of  a  firearm  during  a  disaster                                                                   
emergency.  The bill would insure  that the government not do                                                                   
this  during  a  time when  those  citizens  may  need  their                                                                   
firearms the most.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:25:51 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Meyer pointed  out the zero  note accompanying  the                                                                   
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Chenault  asked about inclusion of  the language: "A                                                                   
person would  forfeits any office of governmental  position",                                                                   
and asked if that was legal.   Representative Coghill replied                                                                   
that was  the intent, however, at  this point, it would  be a                                                                   
civil action.   He understood there was an  amendment, making                                                                   
it a criminal action.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Coghill advised that  he concurred  with both                                                                   
the attached amendments.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:28:18 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
BRIAN JUDY,  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE), NATIONAL  RIFLE                                                                   
ASSOCIATION  (NRA)  REPRESENTATIVE   FOR  ALASKA,  ANCHORAGE,                                                                   
testified in  support of HB 400.   He echoed  concerns voiced                                                                   
by Representative Coghill regarding  what had happened in New                                                                   
Orleans.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
The  bill would  clarify  that during  a  state of  disaster,                                                                   
lawfully owned firearms could  not be seized from law-abiding                                                                   
citizens.    Additionally,  it would  make  accountable,  any                                                                   
person  knowingly confiscating  firearms.   He urged  support                                                                   
for the bill.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker MOVED  to  ADOPT Conceptual  Amendment                                                                   
#1.  (Copy on File).  Co-Chair Meyer OBJECTED.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker spoke to  the grammatical  change made                                                                   
by the  amendment.   Co-Chair Meyer  WITHDREW his  OBJECTION.                                                                   
There being NO further OBJECTION, Amendment #1 was adopted.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:31:27 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker MOVED  to  ADOPT Conceptual  Amendment                                                                   
#2.  (Copy on File).  Co-Chair Meyer OBJECTED.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker explained the  proposed change.   Page                                                                   
1, Line  7-10, the amendment  deletes all material  and would                                                                   
insert   Section   26.23.205,   regarding   confiscation   of                                                                   
firearms.    That section  provides  for  due process  to  be                                                                   
exercised if the person was convicted,  their office would be                                                                   
forfeited.   The amendment  would raise  the bar from  simple                                                                   
presumption  and  would require  the  burden  of proof  of  a                                                                   
criminal standard.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:35:51 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Vice  Chair  Stoltze  acknowledged   the  tough  standard  of                                                                   
conviction.   Representative Hawker  referenced the  original                                                                   
version,  which  forfeited  anything without  regard  to  the                                                                   
contractual  contract.    He   did  not  know  how  it  could                                                                   
presently  interface.     He  speculated  that   there  is  a                                                                   
provision, if  convicted, there  would be consequences.   The                                                                   
amendment  provides   the  form   to  properly   address  the                                                                   
consequence.  He spoke to automatic forfeiture.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:37:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker mentioned  his uncomfortableness  with                                                                   
the motion.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Holm asked  about language  in Amendment  #2,                                                                   
Line 7, "the color of law" and that affect.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DEAN GUANELLI,  CHIEF ASSISTANT ATTORNEY,  CRIMINAL DIVISION,                                                                   
DEPARTMENT OF LAW,  pointed out that was a "term  of art" and                                                                   
exists in  the federal  civil rights law  and a couple  other                                                                   
places in Alaska Statute.  It  reflects that the person doing                                                                   
the act was under the cover of some lawful authority.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Holm  asked if it meant under  the umbrella of                                                                   
their  position.   Mr. Guanelli  replied that  it means  that                                                                   
they profess to have lawful authority.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Kerttula  mentioned   the  example   of  the                                                                   
National  Guard; they  would be  protected  because they  are                                                                   
under  orders.   Mr.  Guanelli  responded that  the  question                                                                   
would be if that  person believed that it truly  was a lawful                                                                   
order.  It would  be no different than if a  superior officer                                                                   
orders someone to  assault a person.  The people  must decide                                                                   
for themselves whether to obey.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kerttula asked  when  it would  be lawful  to                                                                   
confiscate  guns.   Mr. Guanelli  said  if a  crime is  being                                                                   
committed,  then it  is lawful.   Each  circumstance must  be                                                                   
weighed separately.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:44:56 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly  wondered  if  the  language  "disaster                                                                   
emergency"  should   be  "disaster"  or  "emergency".     Mr.                                                                   
Guanelli opined that was correct.   He further clarified that                                                                   
the governor declares a disaster-emergency.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker   emphasized  that  this   is  a  very                                                                   
sensitive  issue.   The amendment  is intended  to address  a                                                                   
disaster  emergency  situation  resulting  in  looting.    An                                                                   
officer may need  to secure firearms to protect  citizens and                                                                   
would  not have  to  forfeit his/her  job  until having  gone                                                                   
through  a court procedure.   It  would be  a way to  protect                                                                   
officers acting in good faith.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Meyer asked  Mr.  Guanelli for  an  opinion on  the                                                                   
amendment.   Mr.  Guanelli replied  that  he was  comfortable                                                                   
with it.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:49:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Coghill  commented  that  his intent  was  to                                                                   
guarantee a law-abiding citizen their right to bear arms.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Meyer  WITHDREW  his  OBJECTION.   There  being  NO                                                                   
further OBJECTION, Amendment #2 was adopted.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:50:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker pointed  out that the Department of Law                                                                   
does  not  anticipate  increased   prosecutions  due  to  the                                                                   
passage of HB 400.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker MOVED to  REPORT CS HB 400 (FIN) out of                                                                   
Committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                   
accompanying zero note.  There  being NO OBJECTION, it was so                                                                   
ordered.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CS HB  400 (FIN)  was reported  out of  Committee with  a "do                                                                   
pass" recommendation and with  zero note #1 by the Department                                                                   
of Military & Veterans Affairs.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 10:51:53 AM.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                

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