Legislature(1999 - 2000)
02/29/2000 03:46 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE February 29, 2000 3:46 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Fred Dyson, Chairman Representative Jim Whitaker Representative Joe Green Representative Carl Morgan Representative Tom Brice Representative Allen Kemplen Representative John Coghill MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL NO. 98 "An Act relating to contracts for the provision of state public assistance to certain recipients in the state; providing for regional public assistance plans and programs in the state; relating to grants for Alaska tribal family assistance programs; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED CSHB 98(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 392 "An Act relating to continuances for temporary placement hearings that follow emergency custody of a minor; and amending Rule 10, Alaska Child in Need of Aid Rules." - MOVED CSHB 392(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 269 "An Act related to the videotaping of interviews with children who are alleged to have been abused or neglected." - HEARD AND HELD; ASSIGNED TO SUBCOMMITTEE SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 12 Relating to declaring March 2000 as Sobriety Awareness Month. - MOVED SCR 12 OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 256 "An Act relating to reports of suspected child abuse or neglect, and requiring that, as part of the investigation of the reports of suspected child abuse or neglect, all official interviews with children who are alleged to have been abused or neglected be recorded." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 98 SHORT TITLE: PUB.ASSISTANCE:PROGRAMS/GRANTS/CONTRACTS Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 2/19/99 253 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 2/19/99 253 (H) CRA, HES, FIN 2/19/99 254 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DHSS) 2/19/99 254 (H) GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER 3/09/99 (H) CRA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 124 3/09/99 (H) <BILL POSTPONED TO 3/16> 3/16/99 (H) CRA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 124 3/16/99 (H) MOVED CSHB 98(CRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE 3/16/99 (H) MINUTE(CRA) 3/16/99 469 (H) CRA RPT CS(CRA) NT 6DP 3/16/99 470 (H) DP: JOULE, HALCRO, HARRIS, MORGAN, 3/16/99 470 (H) KOOKESH, DYSON 3/16/99 470 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DHSS) 2/19/99 3/27/99 (H) HES AT 10:00 AM CAPITOL 106 3/27/99 (H) <BILL CANCELED> 2/17/00 (H) HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106 2/17/00 (H) Heard & Held 2/17/00 (H) MINUTE(HES) 2/29/00 (H) HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106 BILL: HB 392 SHORT TITLE: CONTINUANCES OF CINA HEARINGS Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 2/16/00 2216 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 2/16/00 2216 (H) HES, JUD 2/29/00 (H) HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106 BILL: HB 269 SHORT TITLE: VIDEOTAPING OF INTERVIEWS WITH CHILDREN Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 1/10/00 1890 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/00 1/10/00 1890 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 1/10/00 1890 (H) HES, JUD, FIN 1/10/00 1890 (H) REFERRED TO HES 2/25/00 2315 (H) COSPONSOR(S): JAMES 2/29/00 (H) HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106 BILL: SCR 12 SHORT TITLE: SOBRIETY AWARENESS MONTH Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 1/28/00 2108 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 1/28/00 2109 (S) HES 1/31/00 2129 (S) COSPONSOR(S): TAYLOR 2/09/00 (S) HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205 2/09/00 (S) Moved Out of Committee 2/09/00 (S) MINUTE(HES) 2/10/00 (S) RLS AT 11:45 AM FAHRENKAMP 203 2/10/00 (S) MINUTE(RLS) 2/10/00 2256 (S) HES RPT 4DP 2/10/00 2256 (S) DP: MILLER, WILKEN, PEARCE, PETE KELLY 2/10/00 2256 (S) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (S.HES) 2/15/00 2302 (S) RLS TO CALENDAR 02/15/00 2/15/00 2306 (S) READ THE SECOND TIME 2/15/00 2306 (S) PASSED Y11 N- E7 A2 SCR12 2/15/00 2308 (S) TRANSMITTED TO (H) 2/18/00 2232 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 2/18/00 2232 (H) HES 2/29/00 (H) HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106 WITNESS REGISTER SCOTT CALDER PO Box 75011 Fairbanks, Alaska 99707 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 98 and on HB 269. DIANE WENDLANDT, Assistant Attorney General Collections and Support Civil Division (Anchorage) Department of Law 1031 West Fourth Avenue, Suite 200 Anchorage, Alaska 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified briefly on HB 98. BARBARA MIKLOS, Director Central Office Child Support Enforcement Division Department of Revenue 550 West Seventh Avenue, Suite 310 Anchorage, Alaska 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 98 and answered questions. JIM NORDLUND, Director Central Office Division of Public Assistance Department of Health & Social Services PO Box 110640 Juneau, Alaska 99811 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 98 and answered questions. KRISTEN BOMENGEN, Assistant Attorney General Human Services Section Civil Division (Juneau) Department of Law PO Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on HB 98. JODI OLMSTEAD PO Box 56853 North Pole, Alaska 99705 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 98 and HB 269. LORI BACKES, Staff for Representative Jim Whitaker Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 13 Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Explained changes in CSHB 392. GLADYS LANGDON, Children Services Manager Southcentral Region Family Services Division of Family & Youth Services (DFYS) Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS) 550 West 8th Avenue, Suite 304 Anchorage, Alaska 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 392 and on HB 269. ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant Office of the Commissioner Department of Health & Social Services PO Box 110601 Juneau, Alaska 99811 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on HB 392. DOUG WOOLIVER, Administrative Attorney Administrative Staff Office of the Administrative Director Alaska Court System 820 West Fourth Avenue Anchorage, Alaska 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on HB 392. MARCI SCHMIDT 2040 Fishhook Wasilla, Alaska 99654 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 392 and on HB 269. CLYDE LORENZ PO Box 73114 Fairbanks, Alaska 99707 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 392 and on HB 269. SARAH SHORT 5535 North Street Anchorage, Alaska 99518 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 392 and HB 269. BLAIR McCUNE, Deputy Director Public Defender Agency Department of Administration 900 West Fifth Avenue, Suite 200 Anchorage, Alaska 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 392. REPRESENTATIVE GENE THERRIAULT Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 511 Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented HB 269. CHRIS STOCKARD, Captain Division of Alaska State Troopers Department of Public Safety PO Box 111200 Juneau, Alaska 99811 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on HB 269. SENATOR JERRY WARD Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 423 Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SCR 12. PAM WATTS, Director Governor's Advisory Board on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Office of the Commissioner Department of Health & Social Services PO Box 110608 Juneau, Alaska 99811 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SCR 12. ACTION NARRATIVE [The minutes for the portion of the hearing on the Association of Alaska School Boards are found in the 3:06 p.m. cover sheet for the same date.] TAPE 00-24, SIDE A Number 0001 CHAIRMAN FRED DYSON reconvened the House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee at 3:46 p.m. Members present were Representatives Dyson, Whitaker, Morgan, Brice, Kemplen and Coghill. Representative Green arrived later. HB 98 - PUB.ASSISTANCE:PROGRAMS/GRANTS/CONTRACTS Number 0019 CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the next order of business as House Bill No. 98, "An Act relating to contracts for the provision of state public assistance to certain recipients in the state; providing for regional public assistance plans and programs in the state; relating to grants for Alaska tribal family assistance programs; and providing for an effective date." CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the committee would hear public testimony on HB 98. Number 0159 SCOTT CALDER testified via teleconference from Fairbanks. He said this bill is a good idea because it increases the local and regional control and administration of a program. He still isn't clear on some questions from the last hearing on dual assistance in rural/urban setting. He expressed support for HB 98. Number 0254 DIANE WENDLANDT, Assistant Attorney General, Collections and Support, Civil Division (Anchorage), Department of Law, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. She represents the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) and understands CSED supports this bill. She was available for any questions on any legal issues relating to child support. Number 0300 BARBARA MIKLOS, Director, Central Office, Child Support Enforcement Division, Department of Revenue, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. She supports this bill and is available for questions. Number 0383 JIM NORDLUND, Director, Central Office, Division of Public Assistance, Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS), came forward to testify. He mentioned that there is a proposed committee substitute (CS) that adopts the long child support amendment into the bill. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if there was any objection to withdrawing the amendments from the last hearing and adopting the proposed CS for HB 98, version 1-GH1011\G, Lauterbach, 2/18/00, as a work draft. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE objected for purposes of discussion. He asked for a rundown of the differences between version G and the last version. Number 0383 MR. NORDLUND responded that basically version G incorporates the lengthy child support amendment into the bill. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Ms. Miklos to explain what the amendments do for HB 98. MS. MIKLOS explained the CSED collects child support on behalf of public assistance cases. Under the regional Native assistance program, the regional corporations will be providing public assistance services. The amendments explain what CSED will do with the child support. Prior to the amendments, that was not addressed in the legislation. The CSED has been working with the Division of Public Assistance to get language that would make it clear. MS. MIKLOS explained that the CSED will collect the child support on behalf of the Native corporations; while someone is on the regional Native assistance program, the CSED will give that child support money to the regional corporation. These changes are addressed beginning on page 2, Section 2, lines 27-28, and elsewhere through the proposed CS, where the words, "or an Alaska Native family assistance program" were added. Adding that phrase gives the CSED the ability to give the money to the Native family assistance program. She pointed out each section where that phrase occurs. She also noted come clarifying language on page 5, Section 13. MR. NORDLUND noted additional language was changed in the proposed CS not related to child support on page 13, line 21. He asked Kristen Bomengen to speak to that change. Number 0920 KRISTEN BOMENGEN, Assistant Attorney General, Human Services Section, Civil Division (Juneau), Department of Law, came forward. She said the language on page 13, line 21 of the proposed CS, clarifies that the purpose of Sec. 47.27.072 is strictly to apply to AS 47.27.005(b). The previous language that introduced it may have been too broad, perhaps extending it to other parts of the chapter that were not intended. MR. NORDLUND pointed out the title was changed to reflect the additions to the bill dealing with child support. Number 1020 REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN wondered which choice was made for use of the phrase "fair and equitable," which was raised in a memorandum from Terri Lauterbach [the bill drafter]. MR. NORDLUND answered that the choice was to leave the bill as it came to the committee. The issue is that the entire assignment of the child support will go to the Native corporation. When the division makes grants to the Native corporations, it will reduce the grant amount by what has been approximated as the state's share of its collection. He still feels that the language "fair and equitable" gives enough flexibility to address that. He emphasized that they have every intention of recovering the state's share of the child support collections by an appropriate reduction in the grant amount. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Mr. Nordlund what he meant by the "state's share." Number 1127 MR. NORDLUND explained that the way child support collections interplayed with public assistance payments in the past was that half was paid by the federal government and half was paid by the state. The person signing up for public assistance agreed to assign any child support collections made on his/her behalf to pay back the state and federal government for "advancing them a public assistance payment." That payback is calculated based on the share of the funding between the state and federal government. The amount of money has changed over time, but essentially 50 percent of the money would go to the state, and 50 percent would go to the federal government. In this case, however, the federal government is not asking for its share of the child support collections; the Native organizations are allowed to retain the federal share. The state will recover its share through a reduction in the grant amount. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked why the money should go to the Native corporation and not the state. MR. NORDLUND said he believes it was the intent of the federal government to allow those child support collections to be retained by the Native organization, and the state will accede to that desire. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if the Native organization is going to make money. Number 1280 JODI OLMSTEAD testified via teleconference from North Pole and said she had the answer to that question. She was looking at the "Federal Incentives Earned on Collections from Child Support Enforcement" and using the 1993 figure; the AFDC [Aid to Families with Dependent Children] amount collected was $15 million. The incentive earned was $1.18 million. The "non-AFDC," at 115 percent, times the AFDC incentive earned was $1.171 million, which was a $2.190 million bonus or incentive for the collections done - for some but not all. Number 1335 MR. NORDLUND said the answer to Chairman Dyson's question was there is a change in the approach that the federal government is taking towards the administration of a Native-run TANF [Temporary Assistance to Needy Families] in that the federal government does not consider a participant in a Native-run program as a participant in the TANF program. Therefore, all the attachments regarding child support don't attach to the participants in that program; therefore, the federal government doesn't really care what happens to the child support collections. He further explained that traditionally those funds have gone to the federal government. One of the benefits of encouraging the Native organizations to run this program would be for them to keep this relatively small amount of money (compared to the overall cost of the program) that is collected. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if he can infer that the state is not going to get reimbursed from obligor parents for much of the state or federal money given to the Native families. MR. NORDLUND indicated that the state will be reimbursed by the Native organization by reducing a fair and equitable grant amount. Number 1420 CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if the state would only be reimbursed for half of the CSED collection. MR. NORDLUND said that is correct, which is essentially the amount of money returned to the state presently by those clients, which is not a great deal of money. CHAIRMAN DYSON referred to previous discussion and asked about the language in the new bill [Version G] that still has the amount vary by region. Number 1474 MR. NORDLUND agreed that Chairman Dyson did point out two inconsistencies in the bill, and an amendment would be appropriate. In Version G, the differences are found between page 2, line 3, and page 7, line 12. He suggested an amendment: Page 2, line 4, strike "social and economic" and insert "varying," so it would read "accurately reflect the varying conditions of that region;" MR. NORDLUND explained that it would make the language consistent between the two pages. One additional provision of this bill is it allows the state to run slightly varying programs in different regions. That is a good idea because it gives the state the flexibility to do demonstration programs. MR. NORDLUND explained another reason is if a Native program was operating and then ceased to exist, the state might want to retain certain parts of the Native-run program that are different from the state program. He added that there are constraints in statute as to how much variation there could be within the region. It would allow the state to vary within the statute, but through regulations to have a slightly different program from one region to another. The programs couldn't be wildly different, however. CHAIRMAN DYSON indicated that is so the state couldn't discriminate and treat one region far better than another. MR. NORDLUND agreed that the state couldn't provide different benefit levels because those levels are stated in statute. Number 1673 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE withdrew his objection to adopting Version G as the work draft; therefore, the proposed CS for HB 98, version 1-GH1011\G, Lauterbach, 2/18/00, was before the committee. Number 1678 CHAIRMAN DYSON asked the committee if there was any objection to striking the words "social and economic" and inserting "varying" on page 2, line 4. There was no objection; therefore, Amendment 1 was adopted. MR. NORDLUND suggested that the word "economic" on page 7, line 12, should be deleted. That would make it consistent with the first amendment. It does allow for a bit broader interpretation of regional conditions not particular to economic circumstances, like cultural or social circumstances. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked: If the word "economic" was struck, would there still be small allowances made for the cost of living from one region or another? MR. NORDLUND answered no, that was never part of the program. Right now the benefit levels and the qualifying criteria are the same across the state. Number 1762 CHAIRMAN DYSON asked the committee if there was any objection to striking the word "economic" on page 7, line 12. There was no objection; therefore, Amendment 2 was adopted. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if CSED is going to contract its services to the Native corporation to do the collections and those receipts will all go to the Native nonprofit organization. MR. NORDLUND agreed that is true. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked how CSED gets reimbursed for the cost of its efforts. Number 1818 MS. MIKLOS answered it would be the same if the CSED were collecting on behalf of a private family. The CSED wouldn't be reimbursed by the corporation. Sixty-six percent of CSED's funding is federal funding, so it would continue to get that level of reimbursement. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Mr. Nordlund why it should say "fair and equitable". MR. NORDLUND explained that in determining the grant amount, a number of things that come into consideration. First of all, there are constantly changing caseloads. In some regions of the state the caseload might go up or down faster than in other regions. That needs to be considered every year as the grant amount is determined. In some regions there are more two-parent families than in other parts of the state. Under state law, two- parent families receive a benefit reduction of 50 percent in the summer months. The region with more two-parent families will receive less money. If that situation changed and more two- parent families were able to go to work, the funding would be greater. It is those kinds of situations that fluctuate size and makeup of caseload that really have a dramatic effect on the amount of funding necessary to run the program. It would be hard to design a formula that would take all that into consideration. MR. NORDLUND said the state might anticipate what the child support collections will be and deduct them up-front and then reconcile it at the end, or it might do a partial reduction up- front and reconcile at the end of the year. It is in the state's interest to make the reduction because the amount of money for this program is a limited and static sum. Whatever funding the state provides to the Native organization comes at the detriment, in a sense, to the non-Native population in the state, so the state has to make sure it is balanced and fair. The department is not asking for additional funds for the Native-run program; the money is coming out of what has already been appropriated. Number 2029 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said basically the reduction in grants to the Native corporations is not some type of disincentive to work with the child support collection; it is a refinancing of state general fund dollars with money coming in from child support. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked: When the program is being administered by the Native corporation, will it be the same as the state is doing? For example, if there were two families in a village, one Native and one non-Native, would the programs be the same? MR. NORDLUND answered this bill would allow the state to contract services with the Native corporation to provide services to that non-Native, who would have to come under the program rules of the Native corporation. In larger villages or cities, there will be non-Natives receiving services from the state and Natives receiving services from the Native organization. The programs are required under federal law to be comparable, but they can be slightly different. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked: In a place where both the state and the Native corporation are offering services, can an individual choose which program to use? Can only Natives use the Native-run program? Or can a Native use the state program? MR. NORDLUND said the individual is not eligible for both programs. Under the federal law that sets up for the administration of the Native-run programs, the Native organization defines its service area and population. Once that service population is defined, then the federal money that used to come to the state to serve that individual now goes to the Native organization. The Native organization might decide to redefine its service population, and that would affect the amount of federal funding. The federal government wants to make sure the federal funding follows the client, whether the client is served by the state or the Native organization. Once that decision is made and the federal funding is flowing to the Native being served by the Native organization, then that person would not have the choice of being served by the state. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked: If a Native didn't want to get into that, could he/she sign up with the state? MR. NORDLUND answered no. For the purposes of the temporary assistance program, he/she would need to be served by the Native organization. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Mr. Nordlund if the Native corporations would be audited. MR. NORDLUND answered yes, the Department of Health & Social Services will be auditing the Native organizations for fiduciary kinds of responsibilities, but the federal government will continue to audit the programs for welfare reform requirements. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked: If a recipient of one of the programs feels he/she is not being treated fairly, what is the appeal process? TAPE 00-24, SIDE B Number 2353 MR. NORDLUND responded that the first level of appeal would be with the Native-run program. If a satisfactory conclusion is not reached there, an appeal can be made to the department, and beyond that, the court. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if the legislators could act as ombudsmen on behalf of a constituent. MR. NORDLUND said he believes someone could appeal to the local representative informally, and the representative could talk to the department. He pointed out that the legislature still has the "power of the purse" over this program. There is a separate component for the program in the department's budget called "Native Family Assistance Programs" where there is money to run the program. Certainly the threat of changing that appropriation through the normal process that the legislature uses is a hammer that the legislature could have over the department, and that the department, therefore, would have over the Native organization. MS. BOMENGEN added that the individual being served by the Native program is really in the same position as anyone who is being served through a grantee of the state. In the circumstance of a grantee of the DHSS, the DHSS would be contacted, and then the department would have to deal with the grantee directly on the issue. It would not necessarily be a matter of contacting the grantee. Number 2168 MS. OLMSTEAD asked if this bill will increase the CSED's workload. MS. MIKLOS answered that it will not affect the workload of the CSED one way or another. She stated that there is no priority of collecting one type of case over another. CHAIRMAN DYSON announced that if there was no objection, the committee would withdraw Version G and adopt Version H of HB 98 as the working document. There being no objection, the proposed CS for HB 98, version 1-GH1011\H, Lauterbach, 2/24/00, was adopted as a work draft. [Note: Version H incorporates the amendments adopted in Version G.] The committee took an at-ease from 4:45 p.m.-4:46 p.m. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE made a motion to move CSHB 98, version 1- GH1011\H, Lauterbach, 2/24/00, out of committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL objected. A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Whitaker, Green, Morgan, Brice and Dyson voted in favor of moving the bill. Representative Coghill voted against it. Representative Kemplen was absent. Therefore, CSHB 98(HES) moved from the House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee by a vote of 5- 1. The committee took an at-ease from 4:47 p.m. to 4:49 p.m. HB 392 - CONTINUANCES OF CINA HEARINGS CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the next order of business as House Bill No. 392, "An Act relating to continuances for temporary placement hearings that follow emergency custody of a minor; and amending Rule 10, Alaska Child in Need of Aid Rules." Number 1937 REPRESENTATIVE JIM WHITAKER, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, came forward to present HB 392. He explained that this change in the law is simple and yet meaningful. The genesis for this legislation is concern, distress and probable near-panic in which parents or guardians may find themselves. This minor law accomplishes one thing: it requires that the judge presiding at the CINA [Child in Need of Aid] hearing inform each parent or each guardian that he/she has a right to request up to a seven- day continuance - that he/she has a right to have time to think and to defend himself/herself. REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER said hopefully, given time, the parent will become introspective and contemplate what positive action he/she can take to reunite the family, rather than having time to only react angrily and negatively, which pits him/her against the system, a reaction which only keeps the family apart. The bill requires the judge to tell the parents/guardians that they have a right to take enough time to think and "get their act together." CHAIRMAN DYSON said he understands that judges can do this now and perhaps should, and this only makes it clear in the law that the judges are required to do it. REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER answered that is correct. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 392, version 1-LS1224\D, Lauterbach, 2/29/00, as a work draft. There being no objection, Version D was before the committee. CHAIRMAN DYSON invited the sponsor's staff to explain the changes. LORI BACKES, Staff for Representative Jim Whitaker, came forward to explain the changes in the proposed CS. She explained that all the changes came about as a result of comments received from Blair McCune and Elmer Lindstrom. In the original bill, the hearing was referred to as a temporary placement hearing. That has been changed to refer to those hearings as temporary custody hearings. The reference to "up to seven days" has been taken out so there is not a limit, and it would be up to the presiding judge's discretion whether it would be necessary to have a two- day limit or an 11-day limit, so it would not be unnecessarily restricted. On page 2, line 1 of the original bill, the following was deleted: "the court may not grant more than one continuance before a temporary placement hearing is held." Number 1728 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE expressed concern that by removing that cap of up to 7 days, it is possible that the judge could grant a continuance up to 60 days and stop the clock on the 90-day hearings for complete custody or for the process. MS. BACKES indicated it is the intention that these proceedings don't take longer than is absolutely necessary. She hasn't received any response that it may be extended extraordinarily to the degree suggested. Number 1635 GLADYS LANGDON, Children Services Manager, Southcentral Region, Family Services, Division of Family & Youth Services (DFYS), Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS), came forward to testify. She acknowledged support of the amended changes from the committee. In addition to that, the department is asking that there be one additional change to be consistent with recent legislative and court rules, to make a distinction between children in need of aid and delinquent minors. The department recommends changing the word "minor" everywhere it appears in the bill, including the title, to "child". CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if the title can be changed. ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Health & Social Services, came forward to answer. He stated that the title can be changed. He explained that a few years ago, the juvenile and child-in-need-of-aid statutes were one body of statutes. Subsequently, AS 47.10 became the CINA statute and AS 47.12 became the juvenile statute, but there is still some residual misuse of names. The department wants to refer to "child" in AS 47.10 and to "minor" in AS 47.12. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if there was any objection to adopting a conceptual amendment that would delete "minor" and replace it with "child" wherever it appears in the CS. There was no objection; therefore, the amendment was adopted. Number 1432 MS. LANGDON stated that the department supports this bill. This is already occurring in regions across the state. DOUG WOOLIVER, Administrative Attorney, Administrative Staff, Office of the Administrative Director, Alaska Court System, responded to a question by Chairman Dyson, saying the court has no objection to the bill. CHAIRMAN DYSON stated that if this bill passes or not, the fact that parents have a right to ask for a continuance ought to be clearly stated in the brochure put out by DHSS. MS. OLMSTEAD noted this is a wonderful change. Number 1324 MARCI SCHMIDT testified via teleconference from the Matanuska- Susitna Legislative Information Office. She expressed her support for HB 392. Number 1316 CLYDE LORENZ testified via teleconference from Fairbanks. He expressed his satisfaction with HB 392. Number 1309 MR. CALDER said he didn't have any objections. He suggested dual or parallel sections to do the same for parents involved in juvenile cases. CHAIRMAN DYSON said Mr. Calder's point was well taken. Number 1252 SARAH SHORT testified via teleconference from Anchorage. She believes this is a good bill. She is concerned about protecting the rights of parents to be able to have visitation during the time the child is in limbo when the state has custody, but when there hasn't been a court hearing to say whether the child is really in need of aid. Number 1197 BLAIR MCCUNE, Deputy Director, Public Defender Agency, Department of Administration, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. He expressed support for HB 392. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if language should be added to suggest that the judge make provision for the family to be able to visit the child, or to direct the department to make the provision during this continuance. Or is that a "given," and the department is already supposed to do that? MS. LANGDON answered that the department is already making those arrangements. CHAIRMAN DYSON noted that there is concern that it sometimes - or perhaps even often - doesn't happen. MS. LANGDON said it is already an expectation and part of the policy that the department provides visitation for families. To that extent, she doesn't see that there needs to be additional orders from the court. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE made a motion to move CSHB 392, version 1- LS1224\D, Lauterbach, 2/29/00, as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and the zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSHB 392(HES) moved from the House Health, Education and Social Services Committee. HB 269 - VIDEOTAPING OF INTERVIEWS WITH CHILDREN Number 1040 CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the next order of business as House Bill No. 269, "An Act related to the videotaping of interviews with children who are alleged to have been abused or neglected." Number 1021 REPRESENTATIVE GENE THERRIAULT, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, came forward to present HB 269. He explained that HB 269 was drafted to spark the discussion on videotaping allegations of child abuse. He has worked on this in the past and was not successful in advancing the idea at that time. He said he thought it was time to try again. Shortly after making his request, he learned that Representative Coghill was working on a piece of legislation also. The two of them met and agreed that these two ideas would be melded together sometime through the committee process, and he would look forward to working on that possibility. This bill asks for a pilot project for the videotaping alleged abuse and would be located in Fairbanks. He decided to go with a pilot project because a number of problems have driven up the cost of implementing this. In order to control the fiscal problems he had seen in the past, he thought a pilot project was the way to go. He doesn't have any problem with tightening up any broad language in the bill. Number 0860 REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN asked what happens to the videotapes after the pilot project is finished. REPRESENTATIVE THERRIAULT answered that the department would know how that information is kept. That is part of the expense run into in the past, how are the tapes kept, who has access to them for viewing, and under what circumstances do people have access to them. A lot of that needs to be fleshed out in the way the pilot project would run before something is attempted statewide. REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN commented that the pilot project is an attractive concept. Number 0793 REPRESENTATIVE THERRIAULT noted he is agreeable to any changes about the timing of the pilot project. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if there are any other projects in the state that come close to a videotaping effort like this. REPRESENTATIVE THERRIAULT answered he has heard in some areas there are setups where some videotaping is done. He is not sure if it is on allegations of child abuse. That information may come from the department. Number 0673 CHRIS STOCKARD, Captain, Division of Alaska State Troopers, Department of Public Safety (DPS), came forward to answer questions. CHAIRMAN DYSON said he was concerned that HB 269 might restrict law enforcement officers. He referred to page 1, line 13, and asked if that would restrict the troopers. MR. STOCKARD noted that the DPS believes the potential exists. A couple years ago there was a bill that mandated a memorandum of agreement between the Departments of Law, Public Safety and Health & Social Services; that established as standard operating procedures the need to always audiotape or to videotape wherever practical. That is done in urban locations, but rural locations tend to be more problematic in terms of having a video set up that is convenient to use and in a dedicated room. It is easier in the more metropolitan areas to arrange for those facilities. MR. STOCKARD noted that the bill appears to say that in every case, DHSS and law enforcement both have a need to interview kids. That is true in cases where there are allegations of in- family abuse or neglect. It is not the case when it involves a stranger or a babysitter or some person outside the home. In many of those cases, although DFYS is notified of a report of harm to a child, the troopers will do the only interviews of the child and will proceed to the Department of Law, but there is no reason for DFYS to be involved so long as there is no indication that the family is any way involved. A lot of the restrictions written around DFYS being involved in every case of abuse and neglect of a child take DPS in at the same time. There is some concern about some of the details on some things. CHAIRMAN DYSON requested confirmation that if an officer is investigating a reported crime against a child, this would not affect DPS. MR. STOCKARD said it says "a child alleged to have been abused or neglected". Certainly, neglect wouldn't come in, but abuse isn't specified by a family member. It could be another adult. CHAIRMAN DYSON agrees it appears to be problematic. Number 0251 REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked Captain Stockard to explain an in- town procedure. MR. STOCKARD explained that if a report of harm comes into DPS or DFYS, the agencies notify each other; 90 percent of the time they are able to do a single, coordinated interview with both agencies present. About 10 percent of the time one agency or the other won't have anyone available to come when the interview is scheduled. In Fairbanks, there is no permanently established facility specifically set up for interviewing children, but sometimes the interviews are videotaped. There is such a facility in Palmer; a significant number of interviews are videotaped there and this facility is available to the DFYS and the troopers. CHAIRMAN DYSON said they are trying to prevent the child from having to go through repeated interviews with different people, which can "re-victimize" the kids. TAPE 00-25, SIDE A Number 0010 CHAIRMAN DYSON suspended the hearing on HB 269 in order to take up SCR 12. SCR 12 - SOBRIETY AWARENESS MONTH CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the next order of business as Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 12, Relating to declaring March 2000 as Sobriety Awareness Month. Number 0069 SENATOR JERRY WARD, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, came forward to present SCR 12. He noted in the past the legislature has honored the solution which is sobriety. The month of March is sobriety month, and this has been done for several years. He hopes this resolution will go forward with Mike Williams on the Iditarod race. Mike Williams is one of the founders of the AFN [Alaska Federation of Natives] sobriety movement. Number 0116 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE thanked Senator Ward for his advocacy on sobriety issues. He wondered if there would be any conflict since there was an earlier resolution designating March as developmental disabilities month. CHAIRMAN DYSON answered that there is no limit on that. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL made a motion to move SCR 12 out of committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. There being no objection, SCR 12 moved from the House Health, Education and Social Services Committee. [The testimony of Pam Watts was heard later this same meeting.] HB 269 - VIDEOTAPING OF INTERVIEWS WITH CHILDREN Number 0205 CHAIRMAN DYSON reopened the hearing on House Bill No. 269, "An Act related to the videotaping of interviews with children who are alleged to have been abused or neglected." Number 0223 GLADYS LANGDON, Children Services Manager, Southcentral Region, Family Services, Division of Family & Youth Services (DFYS), Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS), came forward to testify. She explained that the information obtained in the pilot project will be used to assess whether videotaping should be required statewide. If adequately funded, DFYS is not opposed to the pilot as a means of ascertaining the efficacy as well as the programmatic and fiscal costs of videotaping interviews with children. The pilot is particularly useful because it allows for exigent circumstance which can cause some interviews to be necessary, because it recognizes that extraordinary circumstances may cause equipment unavailability or failure. The pilot program appropriately provides that failure to videotape should not result in ability to proceed to act on information obtained. MS. LANGDON continued that there will be a need to use two persons in every investigation since fixed cameras and tripods are not effective or accurate for videotaping children who frequently move about during interview sessions. Additional staff will need to be used for taping interviews as well as managing, organizing, cataloging, storing, retrieving and transcribing and copying the large number of videos that will accumulate. To be effective, the pilot program must provide the resources to maintain a valid control group. Sufficient resources must be available to enable DFYS to commit a high quality of effort to the evaluation and reporting components of the pilot program. In order to determine the impact of the pilot program it would need two groups for comparison. There is a great cost in discovery for all the parties who want copies of the videotapes. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked Ms. Langdon to explain the two groups, for comparison. Number 0447 MS. LANGDON explained that one group will be the children who will be interviewed through the division and the other group will be interviewed through the pilot program. The two groups will be compared to see if there's really a difference between the videotaped interviews and interviews not videotaped. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked if audio tapes are transcribed right now or if the interview is just written by the social worker or whoever conducted it. MS. LANGDON replied that in situations where there is taping, it is transcribed. In other situations, there is no transcription. Number 0680 SARAH SHORT testified via teleconference from Anchorage. She said everyone she works with in her community would benefit from HB 269 and would support it. It will save costs in the long run because more time is being spent investigating false reports of harm where children have been coerced into making wrongful statements. She referred to a situation in Wenatchee, Washington where there were falsified reports of harm, coerced testimony and children who were led in the interviews. She believes people are going to want this program throughout the state. This will do something to save the children, and she will help get support for this bill. Number 0846 SCOTT CALDER testified via teleconference from Fairbanks: I agree with Sarah that this should be a full-time, statewide requirement placed on the department, which has abused its discretion repeatedly over the years, and I think we need to look at this sensibly as a correction of a problem with the way our government operates to the detriment of its citizens, rather than allowing ourselves to be lulled to sleep by the argument that we don't really know whether its a good idea and all we need is another three-year study to find out whether the department's going to end up liking it. ... I've been following this for years." MR. CALDER mentioned the economic benefits of this bill. Number 1049 CLYDE LORENZ testified via teleconference from Fairbanks. He indicated he agrees that videotaping is needed immediately. He believes the pilot project is a poor excuse to do away with it. The parents have to be accountable, and he believes it is about time for the DFYS and the Department of Law to be accountable. There are so many false accusations that happen, and it is tearing families apart. Number 1109 MARCI SCHMIDT testified via teleconference from the Matanuska- Susitna Legislative Information Office. She stated that she would go with Representative Coghill's bill [HB 256] if she had to choose. She agreed that more work needed to be done to either combine the two bills or make the language clearer. Number 1174 JODI OLMSTEAD testified via teleconference from North Pole. She stated that people want accountability to families, parents, agencies and children. By using videotaped interviews and the transcription, everyone would be working off the same "sheet of music" instead of having multiple interviews. She would like to know what the checks and balances are right now for social workers officers, children and parents to protect themselves. She encouraged the committee to support Representative Coghill's bill. CHAIRMAN DYSON appointed a subcommittee of Representative Whitaker, Coghill and Therriault to work on HB 269. [HB 269 was heard and held.] SCR 12 - SOBRIETY AWARENESS MONTH CHAIRMAN DYSON returned to Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 12, Relating to declaring March 2000 as Sobriety Awareness Month, to add the testimony of Pam Watts. Number 1532 PAM WATTS, Director, Governor's Advisory Board on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse (ABADA), Office of the Commissioner, Department of Health & Social Services, came forward to testify. She noted it is gratifying to recognize the increased awareness on the part of the legislature of the role that alcohol abuse and dependency play in a wide range of tragic circumstances across the state. Alcohol is implicated in 83 percent of child abuse and neglect investigations; in 46 percent of all homicides in the state; and in 60 percent in domestic violence cases. Alcohol-related deaths in Alaska are at 11.2 percent compared to 5 percent nationally. The Alaskan adult suicide rate is four times the national average and a suicide rate nine times the national average where alcohol is implicated in many of these cases. Fifty percent of the emergency room hospital visits involve alcohol; and 77 percent of the seriously mentally ill persons incarcerated have co-occurring substance abuse disorders. MS. WATTS reported in a recent Gallup Poll survey it was found that approximately 58,000 Alaskans are alcohol-dependent or abusers. Over 41 percent of the 58,000 are dependent. The stretch between abuse and dependency is not a large one. That makes 9.7 percent of Alaska's population alcohol-dependent, compared with 4.38 percent nationally. MS. WATTS further reported that a sober lifestyle is not maintained in isolation for most alcohol-dependent people. It's not just as easy as making a decision to quit. They need help. The investments in children's programs are doomed to marginal outcomes if the substance abuse issues of the parents aren't addressed. Correctional facilities will continue to see high rates of recidivism if alcohol and drug issues aren't addressed. About 12.5 percent of the adults in Alaska are estimated to need treatment for alcohol dependency or abuse - 0.5 percent for drug dependency alone and another 1.2 percent for both alcohol and drug abuse problems. MS. WATTS noted that the ABADA appreciates the recognition that supporting sobriety is hard work for everyone, especially the person who is recovering, and particularly in an environment where a lot of messages promote the opposite of a sober lifestyle. The ABADA encourages the legislature not only to support Sobriety Awareness Week, but to make sure that access to treatment and aftercare services continue to be available for people who seek help in dealing with this disease that has such devastating effects on the residents of this state. CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Ms. Watts if she knew the magnitude of fetal alcohol poisoning in Alaska. MS. WATTS indicated there are varying figures. At this point it is extremely difficult to come up with an accurate figure because the reporting and diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is minimal. With some recent federal dollars aimed at providing diagnostic teams, there will a more accurate figure. [SCR 12 was moved out of the Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee.] ADJOURNMENT Number 1734 There being no further business before the committee, the House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 5:59 p.m.