Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/08/1993 01:00 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE February 8, 1993 1:00 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Rep. Brian Porter, Chairman Rep. Jeannette James, Vice Chair, arrived later Rep. Gail Phillips, arrived later Rep. Pete Kott Rep. Joe Green Rep. Jim Nordlund Rep. Cliff Davidson, arrived later COMMITTEE CALENDAR Bills requested by the Alaska Court System. HB 73: "An Act relating to state and local taxation and other state regulation as affected by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as amended, and related federal statutes; and providing for an effective date." PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE *HJR 21: Honoring Thurgood Marshall, 1908 - 1993. PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE (* First public hearing.) WITNESS REGISTER CHRIS CHRISTENSEN Staff Counsel Alaska Court System 303 K Street Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Phone: 264-8228 Position Statement: Explained proposed committee legislation RENA BUKOVICH Legislative Aide Rep. Eileen MacLean State Capitol, Room 507 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Phone: 465-4833 Position Statement: Supported HB 73 JACK CHENOWETH, Attorney Legal Services Division Legislative Affairs Agency Goldstein Building, Room 405 130 Seward Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 Phone: 465-2450 Position Statement: Answered questions on HB 73 REP. JOHN DAVIES Alaska State Legislature Court Building, Room 604 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Phone: 465-4457 Position Statement: Supported HJR 21 PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 73 SHORT TITLE: ANCSA STATE TAX EXEMPTIONS BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MACLEAN TITLE: "An Act relating to state and local taxation and other state regulation as affected by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as amended, and relate federal statutes; and providing for an effective date." JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/18/93 102 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/18/93 102 (H) CRA, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 01/28/93 (H) CRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 124 01/28/93 (H) MINUTE(CRA) 01/29/93 174 (H) CRA RPT 5DP 2NR 01/29/93 174 (H) DP: SANDERS,BUNDE,WILLIAMS, TOOHEY, 01/29/93 174 (H) DP: OLBERG NR: DAVIES, WILLIS 01/29/93 174 (H) -ZERO FISCAL NOTE (REV) 1/29/93 02/08/93 (H) JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120 BILL: HJR 21 SHORT TITLE: IN MEMORIAM THURGOOD MARSHALL BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) DAVIES,Brice,Brown,Carney, Davidson,B.Davis,Finkelstein,Grussendorf,Hoffman,Mackie, Menard,Navarre,Nicholia,Nordlund,Sitton,Ulmer,Willis,Martin, Porter,Toohey,Green,G.Davis,Hudson,James,Sanders TITLE: Honoring Thurgood Marshall, 1908 - 1993. JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/29/93 176 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/29/93 176 (H) JUDICIARY 02/01/93 201 (H) COSPONSOR(S): JAMES 02/03/93 223 (H) COSPONSOR(S): SANDERS 02/08/93 (H) JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-10, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIRMAN PORTER called the Judiciary Committee meeting to order at 1:06 p.m. on February 8, 1993. A quorum was present. Chairman Porter announced that a joint meeting of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees scheduled for Wednesday for the purpose of continuing confirmation hearings on public member appointees to the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics might be rescheduled for the following Monday. REP. GREEN asked if two additional appointees would appear before the committee. Number 035 CHAIRMAN PORTER said that at least two appointees would be interviewed at the meeting. He added that if the House failed to confirm any of the other appointees, however, more appointees could come before the committee. CHAIRMAN PORTER announced that the first agenda item was three bills that the Alaska Court System wished the committee to introduce on its behalf. He called upon Chris Christensen to address the committee. Number 058 CHRIS CHRISTENSEN, STAFF COUNSEL, ALASKA COURT SYSTEM, called the members' attention to a memorandum outlining the three proposed bills. He noted that each of the bills would get referred to the Judiciary Committee after its introduction. MR. CHRISTENSEN described the first bill, which would allow magistrates to grant post-conviction relief to defendants in cases where they had the authority to enter the original conviction. Prior to 1990, he said, only superior court judges had the authority to grant post-conviction relief. A 1990 law granted the same authority to District Court judges for cases that had been tried in district court. Through an oversight in that legislation, the same authority was not extended to magistrates. Number 111 MR. CHRISTENSEN explained that the bill would also modify magistrate jurisdiction with respect to noncriminal offenses, or those offenses for which a person could get a fine but no jail sentence, such as a speeding ticket. He noted that magistrates were currently allowed to hear some noncriminal offenses, but not others. The bill would authorize magistrates to hear all noncriminal offenses, including minor fish and game violations. Number 140 MR. CHRISTENSEN proceeded to describe the second proposed bill, which related to payment for legal services. He explained that the bill would allow the state to immediately recover defense costs from any person who had received free legal services from the state. Under current law, he noted, the state was required to wait until three years after the defendant's release from custody to initiate proceedings against a defendant. He added that the state was also currently prevented from recovering defense costs from a person who was not convicted. The bill, he said, also made a technical change regarding the state's authority to garnishee a defendant's permanent fund dividend check, whether or not that defendant was sentenced to jail. Number 189 MR. CHRISTENSEN described the third piece of proposed legislation, which he said proposed to repeal a section of the previous year's omnibus crime law. He explained that the new law allowed a three-judge sentencing panel to reduce a presumptive sentence if the panel found that it would be "manifestly unjust" to impose the presumptive sentence. If the panel found manifest unjustness and found that the defendant had an extraordinary potential for rehabilitation, the sentence could not be reduced. However, in that situation, the panel could make the defendant eligible for parole in the second half of the sentence. Mr. Christensen said that the court system found this distinction inherently unworkable in that it did not allow the court to adequately consider a defendant's rehabilitative potential. Number 236 CHAIRMAN PORTER acknowledged the presence of Reps. James, Phillips and Davidson. Number 250 REP. GREEN asked Mr. Christensen about the fiscal impact of the first proposed piece of legislation. Number 261 MR. CHRISTENSEN mentioned the dramatically increased caseload of the court system over the past several years, and budgets not increasing accordingly. The court system constantly sought ways to live within its budget, he said. He noted that he was hopeful that this change would help them to keep within that budget. Number 272 REP. KOTT asked Mr. Christensen if this bill would result in the inundation of magistrates with new cases. Number 286 MR. CHRISTENSEN stated that he did not know the exact number of new cases that the bill would direct to magistrates. The court system believed that this bill would better equalize caseloads. He spoke of the heavy caseload of district judges and indicated this bill would alleviate their heavy load. Also, he said, the court system could find no philosophical reason why magistrates should be allowed to hear certain noncriminal cases and not others. Number 321 CHAIRMAN PORTER noted the presence of Rep. John Davies and invited him to join the committee at the table. Rep. Davies indicated that he was there to testify on HJR 21 and therefore declined Chairman Porter's offer. Number 326 REP. GREEN asked Mr. Christensen about the second proposed bill. First, he asked about the possibility that a judge would rule that seizure of a defendant's permanent fund dividend constituted undue hardship for certain indigent defendants. Secondly, he asked if seizure of an indigent defendant's dividend were allowed, would the state end up supporting that person in some other form? Number 340 MR. CHRISTENSEN noted that the Alaska Supreme Court had adopted the present court rule requiring repayment of defense costs the previous July by a 3-2 vote. The rule might end up being addressed by the U. S. Supreme Court, he added. At the time that a defendant received a public defender, Mr. Christensen said, he or she was notified that repayment for the legal services was required. Defendants were ordered to sign over their permanent fund dividend checks. If they chose not to sign, he noted, the clerk was authorized to sign the form for the defendant. There was a question as to the constitutionality of that rule, he acknowledged. Number 380 REP. NORDLUND said that he had some questions regarding the three bills, but would hold them until the bills were officially before the committee. He noted that the questions that had been asked were good ones and should be brought up again when the bills were referred to the Judiciary Committee. He also expressed appreciation that Chairman Porter sought consensus on the introduction of committee bills, and noted that he had no objection to the introduction of any of the three bills now before the committee. Number 395 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that he had some serious questions about the third bill, but he would hold those questions until the bill was officially before the committee. He asked for a motion to introduce the three bills as committee bills. REP. PHILLIPS moved to introduce the three bills as committee bills. Seeing no objection, CHAIRMAN PORTER approved the motion. HB 73: ANCSA STATE TAX EXEMPTIONS CHAIRMAN PORTER announced that the next item of business was a hearing on HB 73, relating to ANCSA (Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act) state tax exemptions. He noted that Rep. MacLean was not present, but her aide, Rena Bukovich, would address the committee on HB 73. Number 414 RENA BUKOVICH, LEGISLATIVE AIDE TO REP. EILEEN MACLEAN, PRIME SPONSOR OF HB 73, came forward to address the committee. She noted that Rep. MacLean was chairing a House Finance Committee meeting and could not attend the Judiciary Committee meeting. Ms. Bukovich said that HB 73 had been introduced primarily to bring state law into compliance with federal law regarding the exemption of ANCSA property from taxation. She noted that in 1987, federal law was changed to continue the property tax exemption from federal, state, or local taxation on ANCSA land until development occurred. MS. BUKOVICH mentioned that HB 73 reflected those changes in state law in order to avoid confusion in the application of the state's tax laws. In the drafting process, she added, the attorney noticed other sections of state law which needed to be updated and included those changes in HB 73. For the most part, she said, those changes were technical in nature. The bill did not expand or reduce any laws already mandated by federal government, she added, it merely cleaned up state law and ensured that obsolete statutes did not lead to misinterpretation by state assessors and others who worked with Alaska's tax laws. She noted that the bill had the support of the Alaska Federation of Natives. MS. BUKOVICH noted that HB 73 had a zero fiscal note. The same bill passed the House last year, she said, but died in the Senate Rules Committee. To her knowledge, there were no problems or concerns with the bill, as it was primarily a housekeeping measure. Number 440 CHAIRMAN PORTER thanked Ms. Bukovich for her testimony. Number 445 REP. GREEN asked if federal law would allow the state to help the Native community to improve its land, instead of giving tax breaks for unimproved land. Number 459 MS. BUKOVICH said that she could not address federal law questions, but noted that a representative from the Alaska Federation of Natives could probably answer Rep. Green's question. Number 469 REP. NORDLUND asked Ms. Bukovich what the exact changes in federal law were that required the introduction of HB 73. Number 468 MS. BUKOVICH again noted that she could not address questions of federal law. Number 473 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked JACK CHENOWETH, AN ATTORNEY FROM THE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS AGENCY, LEGAL SERVICES DIVISION, to address the committee. MR. CHENOWETH told the committee that he had drafted both the bill now before the committee and its predecessor. Number 476 REP. NORDLUND asked Mr. Chenoweth what changes in federal law had prompted introduction of HB 73. Number 480 MR. CHENOWETH noted that there were two principal changes, in the form of two federal laws passed since the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act - the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and the 1987 ANCSA Amendments. The principal change that pertained to HB 73 is that regarding the handling of the taxable, or improved, property. Number 500 MR. CHENOWETH added that congress had removed some language from one section of ANCSA and reworked it in another section of the law. He stated that HB 73 reflected those changes in federal law. Another part of ANCSA which was changed dealt with who could receive property in the event of the death of a Native, and whether or not the exemption enjoyed by the original property owner carried over to the new owner. Most of the rest of HB 73, he noted, was an attempt to clean up cross references in the Alaska Statutes. Number 522 MR. CHENOWETH stated that he had tried to clean up the statutes so that this exercise would not be necessary every time congress made changes to ANCSA, through the use of the phrase "as amended" in the bill. Number 530 REP. PHILLIPS mentioned that this bill had passed the House unanimously the year before. She added that she was pleased to see the addition of the "as amended" phrases. Number 535 MR. CHENOWETH commented that HB 73 should ensure that the Alaska statutes automatically kept pace with changes in federal law. Number 542 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if the federal laws which pertained to HB 73 resulted in a change in the general notion that these lands were not taxable until they were developed. Number 552 MR. CHENOWETH responded that there had been no material changes. He reiterated that in drafting the bill, he had simply updated the statutes to reflect changes in federal law. He further indicated that some changes were made when language was deleted from one section of ANCSA and reinserted into another section, but they were not significant changes. Number 568 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if federal law had altered the provision by which regional corporation shares were inherited. Number 573 MR. CHENOWETH noted that there had been changes in the handling of shares. That change, he added, was reflected in HB 73 on page 3, lines 22-26. The federal law was changed to clarify who was eligible to receive shares. Number 596 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if a non-Native could inherit regional corporation shares. Number 602 MR. CHENOWETH replied that the holder of ANCSA corporation shares could make those shares available to an adopted or a natural non-Native child. He said that the changes in federal law did not make it possible to sell corporation shares. Number 611 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if any changes made by HB 73 did not reflect changes that had been made in federal law. Number 615 MR. CHENOWETH indicated that there was nothing in HB 73 which did not reflect changes in federal law. He commented that he had worked closely with the Alaska Federation of Natives in drafting the bill. Number 621 REP. GREEN said that at first glance, the bill appeared to be discriminatory in that Natives could have tax relief on unimproved property, whereas non-Natives holding the same property would have to pay taxes on it. He asked Mr. Chenoweth how the federal government had addressed the discriminatory nature of the law. He also asked about the state helping to develop this unimproved land, instead of granting tax relief to Native owners. Number 641 MR. CHENOWETH responded that Rep. Green's point about discrimination was well taken. However, he called Rep. Green's attention to the fact that congress held the exclusive right to handle relations with Indian tribes. Because of that exclusive relationship, he said, the state of Alaska had no choice but to follow suit. MR. CHENOWETH stated that some efforts had been made in the past to try to identify existing state programs and how they could assist rural Alaskans develop lands. He expressed an opinion that that was the state's principal means of encouraging development of Native lands. Number 670 CHAIRMAN PORTER thanked Mr. Chenoweth for addressing committee members' questions. He asked the committee how it wished to proceed. Number 674 REP. GREEN moved to pass HB 73 out of committee. Hearing no objections, CHAIRMAN PORTER approved the motion to pass HB 73 out of committee. HJR 21: IN MEMORIAM THURGOOD MARSHALL CHAIRMAN PORTER proceeded to the next order of business, HJR 21, honoring United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He asked Rep. John Davies to address the committee. Number 685 REP. JOHN DAVIES, PRIME SPONSOR OF HJR 21, noted that approximately half of the members of the House had co- sponsored HJR 21. He stated that he felt it was appropriate to note the death of someone as significant as Justice Marshall. He expressed an opinion that Justice Marshall's life embodied democracy and liberty. He noted Justice Marshall's concern for the rights of the poor and minorities. Number 709 REP. PHILLIPS said that resolutions often included a statement of where they would be sent. She asked if Rep. Davies would like to have the resolution sent to Justice Marshall's family or to the U. S. Supreme Court. Number 714 REP. DAVIES indicated that sending the resolution to Justice Marshall's family and to the Supreme Court might be appropriate. Number 718 REP. PHILLIPS called Rep. Davies' attention to page 2, line 10, of the resolution where Justice Marshall is referred to as an "Associate Justice." She asked Rep. Davies why that term had been used, in light of the term "Supreme Court Justice" ascribed to Sandra Day O'Connor. Number 722 REP. DAVIES said that he did not know why that term had been used. Number 729 CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that an associate justice was any supreme court justice except for the chief justice. He added that both "Supreme Court Justice" and "Associate Justice" were correct terms, but one or the other ought to be used in the resolution. Number 738 REP. PHILLIPS recommended that a committee substitute for HJR 21 be drafted, changing the term "Associate Justice" to "Supreme Court Justice" and directing the resolution to Justice Marshall's family and to the court. Number 742 REP. KOTT asked why this was a joint resolution and not a concurrent resolution. Number 747 REP. NORDLUND said that any time a resolution was sent outside of the Alaska state government, a joint resolution was the appropriate vehicle to use. REP. DAVIES noted that he had researched the question at the time he drafted the resolution, but could not remember at this time why he had used a joint resolution instead of a concurrent resolution. Number 759 CHAIRMAN PORTER said that the paperwork requirements for a joint resolution were still far less than those required for a bill. He noted his belief that HJR 21 was a very appropriate resolution. He cited Justice Marshall's role in the Brown vs. Board of Education case and expressed his opinion that there would never be another supreme court justice as dedicated to civil rights as Justice Marshall had been. Number 777 REP. KOTT moved to pass HJR 21, as amended, out of committee. Number 784 CHAIRMAN PORTER, seeing no objections, approved the motion. CHAIRMAN PORTER outlined the schedule of Judiciary Committee meetings for the next week. He mentioned that he had sent the names of Rep. Davidson, Rep. Kott, and Rep. James to the Senate Judiciary Committee as delegates to the joint subcommittee on Sentencing Commission recommendations. ADJOURNMENT CHAIRMAN PORTER adjourned the meeting at 1:50 p.m.