Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/11/1994 01:15 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.