Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/11/1994 01:15 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                              
                        February 11, 1994                                      
                            1:15 p.m.                                          
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
  Rep. Brian Porter, Chairman                                                  
  Rep. Jeannette James, Vice-Chair                                             
  Rep. Pete Kott                                                               
  Rep. Gail Phillips                                                           
  Rep. Joe Green                                                               
  Rep. Cliff Davidson                                                          
  Rep. Jim Nordlund                                                            
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
  *HB 331:  "An Act relating to claims on permanent fund                       
            dividends for defaulted public assistant                           
            overpayments."                                                     
                                                                               
            MOVED OUT WITH INDIVIDUAL RECOMMENDATIONS                          
            AND FISCAL NOTES                                                   
                                                                               
  HJR 22:   Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the                    
            State of Alaska relating to membership of the                      
            legislature.                                                       
                                                                               
            HEARD AND HELD FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION                           
                                                                               
  (* First public hearing.)                                                    
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
  REP. CYNTHIA TOOHEY                                                          
  Alaska State Legislature                                                     
  Capitol Building, Room 104                                                   
  Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                        
  Phone:  465-4919                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Prime Sponsor of HB 331                                 
                                                                               
  JAN HANSEN, Director                                                         
  Division of Public Assistance                                                
  Department of Health and Social Services                                     
  P.O. Box 110640                                                              
  Phone:  465-3346                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 331                          
                                                                               
  MARVEEN COGGINS                                                              
  Legislative Aide                                                             
  Rep. Cynthia Toohey                                                          
  Alaska State Legislature                                                     
  Capitol Building, Room 104                                                   
  Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                        
  Phone:  465-4919                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 331                            
                                                                               
  KARLA SCHOFIELD, Accounting Supervisor                                       
  Division of Administrative Services                                          
  Legislative Affairs Agency                                                   
  130 Seward Street                                                            
  Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                        
  Phone:  465-3852                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on fiscal note for                   
                       HJR 22                                                  
                                                                               
  LARRY LABOLLE                                                                
  Legislative Aide                                                             
  Rep. Richard Foster                                                          
  Alaska State Legislature                                                     
  Capitol Building, Room 420                                                   
  Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                        
  Phone:  465-3789                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on behalf of Rep. Foster,                     
                       Prime Sponsor of HJR 22                                 
                                                                               
  JOE SWANSON, Director                                                        
  Division of Elections                                                        
  Office of the Lieutenant Governor                                            
  P.O. Box 110017                                                              
  Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                        
  Phone:  465-4611                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on fiscal note for                   
                       HJR 22                                                  
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS ACTION                                                              
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 331                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: USE PFD'S TO RECOVER WELFARE OVERPAYMENTS                       
  SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) TOOHEY                                         
                                                                               
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  01/03/94      2014    (H)   PREFILE RELEASED                                 
  01/10/94      2014    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  01/10/94      2014    (H)   JUDICIARY, FINANCE                               
  02/11/94              (H)   JUD AT 01:30 PM CAPITOL 120                      
                                                                               
  BILL:  HJR 22                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: LEGISLATURE OF 25 SENATORS, 50 REPS                             
  SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) FOSTER,Davidson                                
                                                                               
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  02/01/93       197    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  02/01/93       197    (H)   CRA, STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY,                   
                              FINANCE                                          
  02/05/93       240    (H)   COSPONSOR(S): DAVIDSON                           
  04/13/93              (H)   CRA AT 01:30 PM CAPITOL 124                      
  04/13/93              (H)   MINUTE(CRA)                                      
  04/14/93      1198    (H)   CRA RPT  3DP 3NR                                 
  04/14/93      1198    (H)   DP: WILLIAMS, SANDERS, OLBERG                    
  04/14/93      1198    (H)   NR: TOOHEY, WILLIS, BUNDE                        
  04/14/93      1198    (H)   NR: TOOHEY, WILLIS, BUNDE                        
  04/14/93      1198    (H)   -2 FISCAL NOTES (GOV, LAA)                       
                              4/14/93                                          
  01/25/94              (H)   STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102                      
  01/25/94              (H)   MINUTE(STA)                                      
  01/26/94      2156    (H)   STA RPT  1DP 4NR 1AM                             
  01/26/94      2156    (H)   DP:  OLBERG                                      
  01/26/94      2156    (H)   NR:  SANDERS,G. DAVIS,B. DAVIS,                  
                              VEZEY                                            
  01/26/94      2157    (H)   AM:  KOTT                                        
  01/26/94      2157    (H)   -3 FISCAL NOTES (GOV,GOV,LAA)                    
                              1/26/94                                          
  01/26/94      2157    (H)   REFERRED TO JUDICIARY                            
  02/11/94              (H)   JUD AT 01:30 PM CAPITOL 120                      
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-21, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN PORTER called the meeting to order at 1:47 p.m. on                  
  February 11, 1994.  A quorum was present.  He said the first                 
  order of business would be HB 331.                                           
                                                                               
  HB 331 - USE PFD'S TO RECOVER WELFARE OVERPAYMENTS                           
                                                                               
  Number 023                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. CYNTHIA TOOHEY, Prime Sponsor of HB 331, testified that                 
  the legislation speaks about permitting claims on permanent                  
  fund dividends (PFD'S) for defaulting on public assistance                   
  overpayments.  She said this bill would give the Department                  
  of Health and Social Services (DHSS) the authority to                        
  collect delinquent public assistance overpayments by                         
  administering the garnishment of an individual's PFD.  Rep.                  
  Toohey explained that currently there are outstanding debts                  
  in excess of $1 million and frequently individuals will                      
  agree to pay back the overpayments, but don't, and HB 331                    
  will enable DHSS to recover overpayments by a less                           
  expensive, more expedient administrative procedure.                          
                                                                               
  REP. TOOHEY told the committee HB 331 is supported by the                    
  DHSS and the Department of Revenue, and in addition, there                   
  are two positive revenue generating fiscal notes from DHSS,                  
  and a zero fiscal note from the Department of Revenue.                       
                                                                               
  Number 083                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PHILLIPS asked if there were any conflicting statutes                   
  that would disallow or prevent this from happening.                          
                                                                               
  Number 103                                                                   
                                                                               
  JAN HANSEN, Director, Public Assistance, DHSS, said no, but                  
  there are other priorities ahead of them in statute that                     
  they would fall behind.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 120                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. DAVIDSON asked Rep. Toohey if HB 331 would apply when                   
  the overpayment was the result of bureaucratic or                            
  administrative error.                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 130                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. HANSEN clarified that HB 331 would apply to the AFDC                     
  program, under which they are required to pursue claims                      
  whether it is the agency's error or the client's error.  She                 
  said in regards to the food stamp program that they cannot                   
  require repayment, which means they would not be garnishing                  
  for food stamp overpayments that were the result of agency                   
  error.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 140                                                                   
                                                                               
  Rep. Davidson added for the record that because we are                       
  dealing with people who are right on the cutting edge of                     
  poverty, we know when they get an extra amount that it is                    
  probably going to be spent one way or another.  He asked if                  
  HB 331 would affect children receiving AFDC by garnishing                    
  their PFD's.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 152                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. HANSEN replied no; HB 331 doesn't apply to anyone who is                 
  on AFDC, it only applies for the repayment of claims of                      
  people whose cases are now closed.  She said if an                           
  individual is still on AFDC, then they do a reduction in                     
  their benefits of ten percent, and under HB 331, they would                  
  only garnish the PFD of the adults in the household, and                     
  even on closed cases they would not garnish the PFD check of                 
  any child.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 174                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. DAVIDSON asked if it was correct that there was $1                      
  million in outstanding claims.                                               
                                                                               
  Number 179                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. HANSEN responded that there are approximately 750 cases,                 
  with up to $500,000 in outstanding claims; however, there is                 
  no way all of that is going to be collectable since many of                  
  these people have long since left the state of Alaska.  She                  
  referred the committee to the fiscal note, which shows that                  
  the collection amounts are small.  She added that they                       
  contact people so they know their PFD may be garnished, and                  
  some of those people may choose to make the payment rather                   
  than have their PFD garnished.                                               
                                                                               
  Number 216                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER asked Ms. Hansen to describe a typical                           
  overpayment case.                                                            
                                                                               
  Number 221                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. HANSEN replied that they are talking about agency and                    
  client-caused and not necessarily fraudulent cases.  She                     
  explained that some of it is because of technicalities, the                  
  agency sometimes has to prospectively in advance determine                   
  how much income a person's going to have and use that                        
  against their case, and then later if their income turned                    
  out to be higher than that, the agency is required in the                    
  future to place a claim to even out what that was.  Ms.                      
  Hansen explained another scenario where it would be                          
  considered agency error if the client told the agency that                   
  they went to work and sent in a paycheck, and the worker                     
  (agency) didn't call the employer to verify whether there                    
  was another paycheck, and in fact there were more earnings                   
  than had been reported.  She described other situations                      
  which could cause overpayments.                                              
                                                                               
  Number 258                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER commented that one of the criticisms on HB 331                   
  could be that the agency should just clean up its act so                     
  there wouldn't be any overpayments, but Ms. Hansen's                         
  explanation clearly shows that isn't possible because of the                 
  situations she described.                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 262                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. NORDLUND asked why there was no section in HB 331                       
  regarding the section in law that talks about the order                      
  payments may be deducted from PFD to AFDC, and referred to                   
  the list that is currently in statute.                                       
                                                                               
  Number 272                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. HANSEN replied that this will not appear in the list,                    
  and the last part of the list refers to "other" agencies                     
  that have the authority to garnish PFD's, and HB 331 would                   
  give them the authority to fall under "other."  She added                    
  that the agency hasn't asked for a particular priority in                    
  the listing, other than lumped with the "other," and the                     
  reason is that if they did so it would require additional                    
  work and programing on the part of the Permanent Fund                        
  Division, and they wouldn't be able to get the benefit of                    
  that this year.                                                              
                                                                               
  Number 290                                                                   
                                                                               
  MARVEEN COGGINS, legislative aide to Rep. Toohey, clarified                  
  that the section that has the list in it is followed by a                    
  section that expands on the student loan collection process,                 
  and HB 331 would be a new section which follows that                         
  section, so it would be a separate section.                                  
                                                                               
  Number 301                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. JAMES made a motion to move HB 331 out of committee                     
  with individual recommendations and fiscal notes attached.                   
                                                                               
  Hearing no objection, it was so moved.                                       
                                                                               
  Number 344                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER announced that HJR 22 was next on the agenda.                    
                                                                               
  HJR 22 - LEGISLATURE OF 25 SENATORS, 50 REP'S                                
                                                                               
  Number 389                                                                   
                                                                               
  KARLA SCHOFIELD, Legislative Affairs Agency (LAA), testified                 
  that the LAA was neutral on the bill; however, if passed                     
  they would do what was required to implement the bill.                       
                                                                               
  REP. NORDLUND noted that the fiscal note from LAA was about                  
  $4 million and asked if LAA was taking into account that                     
  they might have to expand the chambers and so on.                            
                                                                               
  Number 389                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. SCHOFIELD said that number reflected LAA's capital                       
  request and additional space would be needed during the                      
  interim, plus there is probably not enough room in the                       
  Capitol building to accommodate additional legislators.                      
                                                                               
  Number 410                                                                   
                                                                               
  LARRY LABOLLE, legislative aide to Rep. Richard Foster,                      
  Prime Sponsor of HJR 22, testified that the idea behind the                  
  bill is to get people thinking about what legislative                        
  districts will look like during the 2000 reapportionment.                    
  He said the legislature should not be looking in terms of                    
  the number of people represented, but in terms of the                        
  geographical area you have to travel over in terms of                        
  campaigning and trying to address the needs of a widely                      
  diverse area.  Mr. LaBolle said Rep. Foster is not looking                   
  at getting the resolution passed this year, but to try to                    
  find as wide a forum as possible and to get as many people,                  
  at least in the legislature, thinking about the concept, and                 
  ultimately it would be up to the people on a constitutional                  
  amendment.  Mr. LaBolle said they would not support a change                 
  taking place until redistricting occurs in 2000.                             
                                                                               
  REP. JAMES commented that HJR 22 is probably timely, except                  
  that it looks like there will be a lot of things on the 1994                 
  ballot, and with the current financial situation, it's                       
  probably not a wise idea to have it on the ballot in 1994,                   
  but 1996 would probably be better.  She added that she's                     
  also concerned about the representation in the Bush                          
  communities, but technology could help and might be cheaper                  
  than putting more people in the legislature.                                 
                                                                               
  Number 492                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. GREEN noted that the fiscal note starts in 1996, but                    
  the sponsor's intention is not to have the resolution take                   
  effect until 2000, and asked why the fiscal note did not                     
  reflect that.                                                                
                                                                               
  Number 499                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. LABOLLE responded that it was unintentional; basically                   
  they are testing the waters.                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 510                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. GREEN noted that HJR 22 does have a significant fiscal                  
  note for both operating and capital costs, and it would                      
  impact the state's revenue stream significantly, and in the                  
  meantime we are asking other parts of government to cut                      
  their budgets, and asked for Mr. LaBolle's comments.                         
                                                                               
  Number 528                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. LABOLLE replied that there is nothing sacrosanct about                   
  the current organization of the legislature.  He discussed                   
  the size of legislative staff and said he doesn't think the                  
  legislature can even sustain its current budget.                             
                                                                               
  Number 536                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. KOTT commented that the committee ought to evaluate                     
  legislation on the merit, not on fiscal considerations,                      
  which should be addressed by the Finance Committee.  Rep.                    
  Kott said that the courts require a look at population, but                  
  says nothing about geography.  He added that technology will                 
  help in representing rural Alaska.                                           
                                                                               
  Number 587                                                                   
                                                                               
  The committee discussed the impact of having 50                              
  representatives and 25 senators, discussed unicameral                        
  legislatures, the fiscal note, and the issue of population                   
  versus geography.                                                            
                                                                               
  Number 751                                                                   
                                                                               
  JOE SWANSON, Director, Division of Elections, Office of the                  
  Lieutenant Governor, testified regarding the division's                      
  fiscal note, which only addresses reapportionment, and                       
  reminded the committee that with every reapportionment the                   
  state has gone through there have been a number of lawsuits.                 
  He said the one thing Elections did not mention in their                     
  fiscal note is that there would probably be increased ballot                 
  costs in that every additional ballot costs $50,000.                         
                                                                               
  Number 770                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SWANSON commented that the Justice Department looks at a                 
  district and whether or not any individual's rights are                      
  infringed on, they do not look at geography, they look at                    
  each district which, under this legislation, would increase                  
  the likelihood of lawsuits.                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 785                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER requested that Mr. LaBolle discuss with Rep.                     
  Foster what action he would like the committee to take                       
  regarding HJR 22.                                                            
                                                                               
  Number 830                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN PORTER said he would hold HJR 22 until Rep. Foster                  
  indicates what he wants the committee to do with the                         
  legislation.                                                                 
                                                                               
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN PORTER adjourned the House Judiciary Committee at                   
  2:30 p.m.                                                                    

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