Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/12/2003 03:25 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                          May 12, 2003                                                                                          
                           3:25 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Lesil McGuire, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Jim Holm                                                                                                         
Representative Dan Ogg                                                                                                          
Representative Ralph Samuels                                                                                                    
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Tom Anderson, Vice Chair                                                                                         
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
CS FOR SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 5(STA)                                                                                       
Urging the  President of  the United States  and the  Congress to                                                               
act  to  ensure  that  federal agencies  do  not  retain  records                                                               
relating  to lawful  purchase or  ownership of  firearms gathered                                                               
through the Brady Handgun Bill instant check system.                                                                            
     - MOVED CSSJR 5(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                      
CONFIRMATION HEARINGS                                                                                                           
Select Committee on Legislative Ethics                                                                                        
     Marianne Koch Stillner - Juneau                                                                                            
     - CONFIRMATION ADVANCED                                                                                                    
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 98(TRA)                                                                                                  
"An Act relating to civil liability  for boat owners and to civil                                                               
liability for guest passengers on  an aircraft or watercraft; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     - MOVED HCS CSSB 98(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                  
CS FOR SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR SENATE BILL NO. 41(FIN)                                                                           
"An Act relating  to medical care and crimes  relating to medical                                                               
care, including medical  care and crimes relating  to the medical                                                               
assistance program, catastrophic  illness assistance, and medical                                                               
assistance for chronic and acute medical conditions."                                                                           
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
HOUSE BILL NO. 303                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to youth courts  and to the recommended  use of                                                               
criminal  fines  to fund  the  activities  of youth  courts;  and                                                               
relating to accounting for criminal fines."                                                                                     
     - MOVED HB 303 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 64(JUD)                                                                                                  
"An  Act   relating  to  a  requirement   that  certain  consumer                                                               
reporting agencies  provide individuals with  certain information                                                               
without charge."                                                                                                                
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                  
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 4                                                                                                    
Proposing  an  amendment to  the  Constitution  of the  State  of                                                               
Alaska relating to the duration of a regular session.                                                                           
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                  
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 160(HES)                                                                                                 
"An Act relating  to civil liability for use or  attempted use of                                                               
an  automated  external  defibrillator;   and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     - BILL HEARING POSTPONED TO 5/13/03                                                                                        
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 9                                                                                                    
Proposing amendments to  the Constitution of the  State of Alaska                                                               
relating to an appropriation limit and a spending limit.                                                                        
     - BILL HEARING POSTPONED TO 5/14/03                                                                                        
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                               
BILL: SJR 5                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE:DESTROY BRADY BILL RECORDS                                                                                          
SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) WAGONER                                                                                                  
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
01/12/03                (S)        PERMANENTLY FILED 8/25/03                                                                    
01/21/03     0014       (S)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
01/21/03     0014       (S)        STA, JUD                                                                                     
02/11/03                (S)        STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                     
02/11/03                (S)        Moved CSSJR 5(STA) Out of                                                                    
02/11/03                (S)        MINUTE(STA)                                                                                  
02/12/03     0170       (S)        STA RPT CS 4DP 1NR SAME TITLE                                                                
02/12/03     0170       (S)        DP: TAYLOR, COWDERY, DYSON,                                                                  
02/12/03     0170       (S)        NR: HOFFMAN                                                                                  
02/12/03     0170       (S)        FN1: ZERO(LEG)                                                                               
03/12/03                (S)        JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                     
03/12/03                (S)        Moved CSSJR 5(STA) Out of                                                                    
03/13/03     0490       (S)        JUD RPT CS(STA) 5DP                                                                          
03/13/03     0490       (S)        DP: SEEKINS, ELLIS, FRENCH,                                                                  
03/13/03     0490       (S)        OGAN, THERRIAULT                                                                             
03/13/03     0491       (S)        FN1: ZERO(LEG)                                                                               
03/31/03     0646       (S)        RULES TO CALENDAR 3/31/2003                                                                  
03/31/03     0646       (S)        READ THE SECOND TIME                                                                         
03/31/03     0646       (S)        STA CS ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT                                                                  
03/31/03     0646       (S)        COSPONSOR(S): TAYLOR, OGAN,                                                                  
03/31/03     0646       (S)        WILKEN, GREEN, STEVENS G,                                                                    
03/31/03     0646       (S)        STEVENS B, SEEKINS, BUNDE                                                                    
03/31/03     0646       (S)        ADVANCED TO THIRD READING                                                                    
                                   UNAN CONSENT                                                                                 
03/31/03     0647       (S)        READ THE THIRD TIME CSSJR                                                                    
03/31/03     0647       (S)        PASSED Y17 N- E3                                                                             
03/31/03     0648       (S)        TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                           
03/31/03     0648       (S)        VERSION: CSSJR 5(STA)                                                                        
04/02/03     0728       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
04/02/03     0728       (H)        STA, JUD                                                                                     
04/02/03     0751       (H)        CROSS SPONSOR(S): CROFT                                                                      
04/10/03                (H)        STA AT 9:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                   
04/10/03                (H)        Moved Out of Committee                                                                       
04/11/03     0932       (H)        STA RPT 2DP 3NR                                                                              
04/11/03     0932       (H)        DP: SEATON, LYNN; NR:                                                                        
04/11/03     0932       (H)        HOLM, WEYHRAUCH                                                                              
04/11/03     0932       (H)        FN1: ZERO(LEG)                                                                               
05/07/03                (H)        JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                   
05/07/03                (H)        <Bill Hearing Postponed to                                                                   
                                   Sat. 5/10>                                                                                   
05/10/03                (H)        JUD AT 9:00 AM CAPITOL 120                                                                   
05/10/03                (H)        -- Meeting Canceled --                                                                       
05/12/03                (H)        JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                   
BILL: SB 98                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE:LIABILITY: PLANE AND BOAT PASSENGERS                                                                                
SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) BUNDE                                                                                                    
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
03/04/03     0333       (S)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
03/04/03     0334       (S)        TRA, JUD                                                                                     
03/28/03     0616       (S)        COSPONSOR(S): WILKEN,                                                                        
03/28/03     0616       (S)        COWDERY, OGAN                                                                                
04/08/03                (S)        TRA AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                 
04/08/03                (S)        Moved CSSB 98(TRA) Out of                                                                    
04/09/03     0762       (S)        TRA RPT CS 3DP 2NR NEW TITLE                                                                 
04/09/03     0763       (S)        DP: COWDERY, OLSON, WAGONER;                                                                 
04/09/03     0763       (S)        NR: LINCOLN, THERRIAULT                                                                      
04/09/03     0763       (S)        FN1: ZERO(LAW)                                                                               
04/23/03                (S)        JUD AT 1:00 PM BELTZ 211                                                                     
04/23/03                (S)        Heard & Held                                                                                 
04/23/03                (S)        MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                  
04/25/03                (S)        JUD AT 1:00 PM BELTZ 211                                                                     
04/25/03                (S)        Moved CSSB 98(TRA) Out of                                                                    
04/25/03     0965       (S)        JUD RPT CS(TRA) 2DP 1NR                                                                      
04/25/03     0965       (S)        DP: SEEKINS, OGAN; NR: FRENCH                                                                
04/25/03     0965       (S)        FN1: ZERO(LAW)                                                                               
04/30/03     1050       (S)        RULES TO CALENDAR 4/30/2003                                                                  
04/30/03     1050       (S)        READ THE SECOND TIME                                                                         
04/30/03     1050       (S)        TRA CS ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT                                                                  
04/30/03     1050       (S)        ADVANCED TO THIRD READING 5/1                                                                
05/01/03     1081       (S)        READ THE THIRD TIME CSSB                                                                     
05/01/03     1081       (S)        RETURN TO SECOND FOR AM 1                                                                    
                                   UNAN CONSENT                                                                                 
05/01/03     1081       (S)        AM NO 1 OFFERED AND WITHDRAWN                                                                
05/01/03     1082       (S)        AUTOMATICALLY IN THIRD                                                                       
05/01/03     1082       (S)        MOTIONS TO ABSTAIN FROM                                                                      
05/01/03     1082       (S)        CHAIR DENIED MOTIONS                                                                         
05/01/03     1082       (S)        RULING OF CHAIR CHALLENGED                                                                   
05/01/03     1083       (S)        RULING OF CHAIR UPHELD Y16 N3                                                                
05/01/03     1083       (S)        PASSED Y14 N5 E1                                                                             
05/01/03     1083       (S)        EFFECTIVE DATE(S) SAME AS                                                                    
05/01/03     1083       (S)        TAYLOR NOTICE OF                                                                             
05/02/03     1111       (S)        RECON TAKEN UP - IN THIRD                                                                    
05/02/03     1112       (S)        PASSED ON RECONSIDERATION Y14                                                                
                                   N5 E1                                                                                        
05/02/03     1112       (S)        EFFECTIVE DATE(S) SAME AS                                                                    
05/02/03     1113       (S)        TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                           
05/02/03     1113       (S)        VERSION: CSSB 98(TRA)                                                                        
05/05/03     1305       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
05/05/03     1305       (H)        JUD                                                                                          
05/05/03     1333       (H)        CROSS SPONSOR(S): MCGUIRE                                                                    
05/09/03                (H)        JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                   
05/09/03                (H)        Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                      
05/12/03                (H)        JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                   
BILL: SB 41                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE:MEDICAID COSTS AND CRIMES                                                                                           
SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) GREEN                                                                                                    
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
01/29/03     0074       (S)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
01/29/03     0074       (S)        HES, JUD, FIN                                                                                
02/10/03     0152       (S)        COSPONSOR(S): TAYLOR, DYSON,                                                                 
                                   STEVENS B,                                                                                   
02/10/03     0152       (S)        OGAN, COWDERY, SEEKINS,                                                                      
02/26/03     0273       (S)        SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE                                                                           
02/26/03     0273       (S)        HES, JUD, FIN                                                                                
02/26/03                (S)        HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                 
02/26/03                (S)        Heard & Held                                                                                 
02/26/03                (S)        MINUTE(HES)                                                                                  
03/03/03     0323       (S)        COSPONSOR(S): WILKEN                                                                         
03/12/03                (S)        HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                 
03/12/03                (S)        Moved CSSSSB 41(HES) Out of                                                                  
03/12/03                (S)        MINUTE(HES)                                                                                  
03/13/03     0489       (S)        HES RPT CS 3DP 1NR SAME TITLE                                                                
03/13/03     0489       (S)        DP: DYSON, GREEN, WILKEN; NR:                                                                
03/18/03     0533       (S)        FN1: (HSS)                                                                                   
04/11/03                (S)        JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                     
04/11/03                (S)        <Bill Hearing Postponed to                                                                   
04/14/03                (S)        JUD AT 1:00 PM BELTZ 211                                                                     
04/14/03                (S)        Moved CSSB 41(JUD) Out of                                                                    
04/15/03     0857       (S)        JUD RPT CS 5DP NEW TITLE                                                                     
04/15/03     0857       (S)        DP: SEEKINS, ELLIS, FRENCH,                                                                  
04/15/03     0857       (S)        OGAN, THERRIAULT                                                                             
04/15/03     0857       (S)        FN1: (HSS)                                                                                   
04/15/03                (S)        FIN AT 9:00 AM SENATE FINANCE                                                                
04/15/03                (S)        Moved CSSB 41(FIN) Out of                                                                    
04/16/03     0871       (S)        FIN RPT CS 4DP 2NR NEW TITLE                                                                 
04/16/03     0871       (S)        DP: GREEN, WILKEN, TAYLOR,                                                                   
                                   STEVENS B;                                                                                   
04/16/03     0871       (S)        NR: HOFFMAN, OLSON                                                                           
04/16/03     0871       (S)        FN1: (HSS)                                                                                   
04/22/03     0919       (S)        RULES TO CALENDAR 4/22/2003                                                                  
04/22/03     0919       (S)        READ THE SECOND TIME                                                                         
04/22/03     0920       (S)        FIN CS ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT                                                                  
04/22/03     0920       (S)        ADVANCED TO THIRD READING                                                                    
                                   UNAN CONSENT                                                                                 
04/22/03     0920       (S)        READ THE THIRD TIME CSSSSB                                                                   
04/22/03     0920       (S)        PASSED Y20 N-                                                                                
04/22/03     0923       (S)        TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                           
04/22/03     0923       (S)        VERSION: CSSSSB 41(FIN)                                                                      
04/23/03     1064       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
04/23/03     1064       (H)        JUD, FIN                                                                                     
05/07/03                (H)        JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                   
05/07/03                (H)        <Bill Hearing Postponed to                                                                   
                                   Sat. 5/10>                                                                                   
05/10/03                (H)        JUD AT 9:00 AM CAPITOL 120                                                                   
05/10/03                (H)        -- Meeting Canceled --                                                                       
05/12/03                (H)        JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                   
BILL: HB 303                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE:USE CRIMINAL FINES FOR YOUTH COURTS                                                                                 
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S)OGG                                                                                                
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
05/07/03     1415       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
05/07/03     1415       (H)        JUD, FIN                                                                                     
05/08/03     1480       (H)        COSPONSOR(S): GARA, MASEK                                                                    
05/12/03                (H)        JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                   
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
SENATOR TOM WAGONER                                                                                                             
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SJR 5.                                                                                          
Marianne Koch Stillner, Appointee                                                                                               
Select Committee on Legislative Ethics                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified as appointee to the Select                                                                       
Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                                                                                
SENATOR CON BUNDE                                                                                                               
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SB 98.                                                                                          
KAREN McCARTHY, Staff                                                                                                           
to Senator Con Bunde                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Assisted with the presentation of SB 98 by                                                                 
responding to questions.                                                                                                        
SENATOR LYDA GREEN                                                                                                              
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SSSB 41.                                                                                        
DONALD R. KITCHEN, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                   
Medicaid Provider Fraud                                                                                                         
Office of Special Prosecutions & Appeals                                                                                        
Criminal Division, Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to  questions during discussion of                                                               
SSSB 41.                                                                                                                        
STEPHEN BRANCHFLOWER, Director                                                                                                  
Office of Victims' Rights (OVR)                                                                                                 
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to  questions during discussion of                                                               
SSSB 41 and noted that he'd sent in written testimony.                                                                          
ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                      
Legal Services Section-Juneau                                                                                                   
Criminal Division                                                                                                               
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Responded  to a question  during discussion                                                               
of SSSB 41.                                                                                                                     
CLIFF STONE, Staff                                                                                                              
to Representative Dan Ogg                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION   STATEMENT:      Presented   HB  303   on   behalf   of                                                               
Representative Ogg, sponsor.                                                                                                    
LISA ALBERT-KONECKY, Program Coordinator                                                                                        
Mat-Su Youth Court (MSYC)                                                                                                       
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:   During discussion of HB  303, provided some                                                               
of  the  Mat-Su  Youth  Court's statistics  and  asked  that  the                                                               
committee support the bill.                                                                                                     
VIRGINIA ESPENSHADE, Director                                                                                                   
Kenai Peninsula Youth Court                                                                                                     
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION  STATEMENT:    During discussion  of  HB  303,  provided                                                               
information  on  youth  courts   and  said  she  appreciates  the                                                               
committee's support of the bill.                                                                                                
WESTON EILER, Chair                                                                                                             
Alaska Youth Court Sustainability Coalition                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:    During discussion  of  HB  303,  provided                                                               
information on  youth courts  and thanked  the committee  for its                                                               
support of the bill.                                                                                                            
DOUG WOOLIVER, Administrative Attorney                                                                                          
Administrative Staff                                                                                                            
Office of the Administrative Director                                                                                           
Alaska Court System (ACS)                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   During discussion  of HB 303,  relayed that                                                               
the ACS  supports HB  303 and  the concept  of youth  courts, and                                                               
responded to questions.                                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 03-60, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  LESIL   McGUIRE  called   the  House   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order  at   3:25  p.m.    Representatives                                                               
McGuire, Holm, Ogg, Samuels, Gara,  and Gruenberg were present at                                                               
the call to order.                                                                                                              
SJR 5 - DESTROY BRADY BILL RECORDS                                                                                            
Number 0032                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  first order of  business would                                                               
be  CS  FOR  SENATE  JOINT  RESOLUTION  NO.  5(STA),  Urging  the                                                               
President of the United States and  the Congress to act to ensure                                                               
that federal  agencies do not  retain records relating  to lawful                                                               
purchase  or ownership  of firearms  gathered  through the  Brady                                                               
Handgun Bill instant check system.                                                                                              
Number 0084                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  TOM WAGONER,  Alaska  State  Legislature, sponsor,  said                                                               
that  the  United  States  Congress   passed  the  Brady  Handgun                                                               
Violence  Prevention  Act  ("Brady  Handgun  Bill")  in  1993  to                                                               
"promote gun  safety and reduce  gun violence."   To do  this, he                                                               
relayed,  the  Act  established   a  "national  instant  criminal                                                               
background check  system" (NICBCS)  to keep  firearms out  of the                                                               
hands of  criminals; at that time,  it was clear that  the NICBCS                                                               
was  not  to be  used  by  the government  as  a  way to  monitor                                                               
legitimate  firearm ownership  by  law-abiding citizens.   If  an                                                               
individual  is  approved  for purchasing  a  firearm,  18  U.S.C.                                                               
922(t)(2)(C) states:   "destroy  all records  of the  system with                                                               
respect to  the call (other  than the identifying number  and the                                                               
date  the number  was assigned)  and  all records  of the  system                                                               
relating to the person or the transfer."                                                                                        
SENATOR  WAGONER said  that the  administration interpreted  this                                                               
language such  that it  allows agencies  to retain  these records                                                               
for  180 days  for  audit purposes  only.   He  opined that  this                                                               
interpretation is in  violation of both the spirit  and letter of                                                               
the original  Brady Handgun Bill.   He asked members to  join him                                                               
in sending a message to the nation's capitol.                                                                                   
Number 0225                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS  moved  to  report CSSJR  5(STA)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
zero fiscal  note.   There being no  objection, CSSJR  5(STA) was                                                               
reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                           
CONFIRMATION HEARINGS                                                                                                         
Select Committee on Legislative Ethics                                                                                        
Number 0262                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  committee would  next consider                                                               
the  appointment   of  Marianne  Koch  Stillner   to  the  Select                                                               
Committee on Legislative Ethics.   She asked Ms. Stillner why she                                                               
wished to serve on the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                                                  
Number 0280                                                                                                                     
MARIANNE   KOCH   STILLNER,   Appointee,  Select   Committee   on                                                               
Legislative Ethics, said she feels  like she has a responsibility                                                               
as a  citizen to  donate her  energy and  abilities to  a broader                                                               
purpose.   She relayed that  when Justice Walter  Carpeneti asked                                                               
her to  consider serving on  the Select Committee  on Legislative                                                               
Ethics, she became intrigued by  that possibility, and that after                                                               
discussing the  matter further with  Chief Justice Dana  Fabe and                                                               
Joyce  Anderson,  Ethics   Committee  Administrator,  she  became                                                               
excited about the  prospect of becoming involved.   She said that                                                               
she enjoys thinking  in grey areas and the  challenges of solving                                                               
puzzles.  She  added that she believes she can  make an objective                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  pointed out that  one of the  most important                                                               
and hardest  duties of those  serving on the Select  Committee on                                                               
Legislative Ethics  is that of objectively  considering sanctions                                                               
against a legislator whom they like.   He asked Ms. Stillner what                                                               
she could  do to  assure him  that she would  be willing  to find                                                               
against a  legislator she likes if  the facts bear out  that that                                                               
legislator did something in violation of the ethics statutes.                                                                   
MS.  STILLNER   first  relayed  that   she  does  not   know  any                                                               
legislators,  and  then  that  she has  been  in  other,  similar                                                               
situations at  work wherein she  has had to  confront individuals                                                               
whom she likes about certain issues.   She said that she tries to                                                               
be as objective  and as emotionally neutral as  possible in those                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG,  after referring  to some of  the items                                                               
in Ms. Stillner's resume, surmised  that she would be well suited                                                               
to serve on the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                                                         
MS. STILLNER said that she is looking forward to the experience.                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE thanked  Ms. Stillner for her  willingness to serve                                                               
on the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                                                                  
Number 0500                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG made a  motion to advance from committee                                                               
the  nomination of  Marianne Koch  Stillner as  appointee to  the                                                               
Select  Committee   on  Legislative  Ethics.     There  being  no                                                               
objection,  the   confirmation  was   advanced  from   the  House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                                   
SB 98 - LIABILITY: PLANE AND BOAT PASSENGERS                                                                                  
Number 0542                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
CS  FOR  SENATE BILL  NO.  98(TRA),  "An  Act relating  to  civil                                                               
liability  for  boat owners  and  to  civil liability  for  guest                                                               
passengers on  an aircraft  or watercraft;  and providing  for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
Number 0570                                                                                                                     
SENATOR CON BUNDE, Alaska State Legislator, sponsor, said:                                                                      
     Alaska   has   a   lot    of   wonderful   and   unique                                                                    
     [opportunities], scenic  wonders that,  if we  are able                                                                    
     to share them, certainly  [are magnified] ... for those                                                                    
     that are  doing the  sharing.   And those  that haven't                                                                    
     had a  chance to see  them, really, I think,  have some                                                                    
     of   their   experiences   diminished.      There   are                                                                    
     opportunities  when someone  says, "Gee,  ... [it's]  a                                                                    
     beautiful  day; I'd  love to  go for  a boat  ride with                                                                    
     you."    Or  you  might  say,  "It's  really  a  pretty                                                                    
     experience to  see 'X, Y,  or Z';  jump in -  I'll take                                                                    
     you  for a  ride in  the airplane."   Or,  it has  been                                                                    
     mentioned to me, you're in  one place and someone says,                                                                    
     "Hey, I really need to get  back to town; could I catch                                                                    
     a ride with you?"                                                                                                          
     And as a good neighbor, you  would say yes to ... those                                                                    
     prior situations; ... so I  call this a "good neighbor"                                                                    
     bill.    It's an  opportunity  to  share, a  chance  to                                                                    
     access    Alaska     out-of-doors    with    neighbors,                                                                    
     acquaintances,  strangers.   It's  an opportunity  [to]                                                                    
     provide  useful service  to our  friends and  neighbors                                                                    
     without   putting  all   our  financial   resources  in                                                                    
     jeopardy.  Thousands of Alaskans  own planes and boats,                                                                    
     and  share  the enjoyment  of  these  with friends  and                                                                    
     neighbors.   [Senate  Bill 98]  is designed  to clarify                                                                    
     that  people who  accept  an invitation  to  a boat  or                                                                    
     plane  trip, or  ask for  an  invitation to  a boat  or                                                                    
     plane  trip, also  accept some  of  the inherent  risks                                                                    
     that [are] involved in accessing our out-of-doors.                                                                         
SENATOR BUNDE went on to say:                                                                                                   
     [Senate  Bill  98]  provides that  if  a  passenger  is                                                                    
     injured due to  the inherent risk of  a noncommercial -                                                                    
     please let me stress  noncommercial - boating or flying                                                                    
     trip, he or she may not  sue the owner or operator past                                                                    
     the limits  of their liability  insurance.  And  if the                                                                    
     owner  and/or   operator  has  no  insurance   and  ...                                                                    
     notifies  the ...  potential  passenger  prior to  them                                                                    
     boarding  the  boat  or aircraft,  in  that  case,  the                                                                    
     passenger doesn't have  a cause of action at  all - may                                                                    
     not sue.   For example, you're out for the  day in your                                                                    
     boat, you  hit a rogue  wave, something that  you could                                                                    
     not have foreseen, your friend falls, breaks an arm.                                                                       
Number 0759                                                                                                                     
     Current law allows  that friend to sue you  and, as you                                                                    
     have  a boat  or an  aircraft, you're  assumed to  have                                                                    
     deep pockets  and may be  a target for suits  more than                                                                    
     in other  situations.  If  that rogue wave is  a result                                                                    
     of  an inherent  risk,  not your  negligence, not  your                                                                    
     gross  negligence,  not  your  carelessness,  not  your                                                                    
     intentional  misconduct, then  this bill  would protect                                                                    
     you  and  your  family's  assets.    Alaska's  statutes                                                                    
     recognize   that   those   who  participate   in   some                                                                    
     activities must take  responsibility for those inherent                                                                    
     risks.   Already existing in state  law are limitations                                                                    
     ...  regarding  inherent   risk  [related]  to  private                                                                    
     runway maintenance, zoos, unimproved  land, and the ski                                                                    
     safety Act that passed not too long ago.                                                                                   
     [Senate  Bill 98]  does not  absolve owners  from their                                                                    
     responsibility to maintain  and operate their equipment                                                                    
     in  a safe  and prudent  manner.   It does  not protect                                                                    
     those  who engage  or operate  their boat  or plane  in                                                                    
     reckless  or  ...  grossly negligent  manners,  or  who                                                                    
     engage  in intentional  misconduct.   [Senate Bill  98]                                                                    
     only  applies  to  private  owners,  not  to  boats  or                                                                    
     aircraft  that are  used commercially.    This bill  is                                                                    
     endorsed  by  the   Alaska  Airmen's  Association,  the                                                                    
     Alaska [Boating]  Association, the  Personal Watercraft                                                                    
     Club of  Alaska [PWCA], the Knik  Canoers and Kayakers,                                                                    
     and there's  a host  of individuals  who own  boats and                                                                    
     aircraft that are,  I believe, also in  your packet [as                                                                    
     stating support].                                                                                                          
SENATOR BUNDE concluded:                                                                                                        
Number 0855                                                                                                                     
     They   support  this   bill   because  they're   deeply                                                                    
     concerned  about  rising  costs of  insurance  and  the                                                                    
     challenge of  ... a society  that seems to be,  in some                                                                    
     cases,    unwilling    to   accept    their    personal                                                                    
     responsibility and  look at an accident  as a potential                                                                    
     for  a substantial  financial windfall.   They  support                                                                    
     this because of, currently,  our inabilities to protect                                                                    
     their  homes, their  retirement, and  other significant                                                                    
     assets  of their  family.    Therefore, I  respectfully                                                                    
     submit to you  SB 98 for your  consideration, and would                                                                    
     be available for questions.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG referred  to Section 3 and  Section 5 of                                                               
SB 98  and to  the sectional  analysis regarding  those sections,                                                               
and said that he is a  little bit confused about the interplay of                                                               
those items.   He asked  what Section 3  does and what  Section 5                                                               
relates to.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  BUNDE  indicated  that because  language  in  Section  3                                                               
contains  similar  language  to  what is  contained  in  Sec.  9,                                                               
Chapter 28, SLA 2000, Section 5 makes reference to it.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked what  the practical implication of                                                               
that is.                                                                                                                        
SENATOR BUNDE said  that it is simply  "bill drafters' language,"                                                               
and  that the  current Alaska  boating  safety law  has a  sunset                                                               
provision.    Section 5  recognizes,  but  does not  repeal,  the                                                               
sunset provision contained in that law.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  surmised,  then,  that  Section  5  is                                                               
simply conforming language.                                                                                                     
SENATOR BUNDE agreed.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked for more information.                                                                                 
Number 1092                                                                                                                     
KAREN  McCARTHY,  Staff  to  Senator   Con  Bunde,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, said:                                                                                                              
     As  I understand  the  convoluted way  they  had to  go                                                                    
     about the Alaska boating safety  Act, first they had to                                                                    
     put all of  the statute in place, and then  they had to                                                                    
     put it in  place again in order to sunset  it.  And the                                                                    
     way they did it was that  at the end of that bill, they                                                                    
     referred to  various sections of  that bill  that would                                                                    
     be sunsetted.  And so  that's why [language in] Section                                                                    
     1  and Section  3 [of  SB  98] are  identical, but  the                                                                    
     sunset reference  in Section  5 only refers  to Section                                                                    
     3.  I'm  not sure that that's any clearer  than when we                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said  that he is a  little uncomfortable with                                                               
what Legislative  Legal and Research  Services "is doing  on this                                                               
MS. McCARTHY responded:                                                                                                         
     I had the same conversation  with the bill drafter, and                                                                    
     ...  because  the  Alaska  boating  safety  Act  had  a                                                                    
     liability section in  it, the bill drafter  felt it was                                                                    
     appropriate  to  reference  that  in this  bill.    And                                                                    
     because of the way that bill  was written, we had to do                                                                    
     it this way.   It's uncomfortable and  it's kludgy, but                                                                    
     that's the way it had to be done.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GARA replied:                                                                                                    
     If  there  is somebody  who  has  an action  under  the                                                                    
     former  version of  the Act,  the Act  that's in  place                                                                    
     right now,  this changes their  rights.  Even  if we're                                                                    
     not intending it to, it  does. ... If somebody sued ...                                                                    
     - let's look at page 2,  line 27, ... under this former                                                                    
     version of the  statute, which is [Sec.  9, Chapter 28,                                                                    
     SLA 2000 -  if] somebody has an action  under that law,                                                                    
     we're now changing the law retroactively.                                                                                  
CHAIR  McGUIRE   pointed  out,  however,   that  SB  98   has  an                                                               
applicability provision, which says,  "This Act Applies to causes                                                               
of  action that  accrue on  or after  the effective  date of  the                                                               
applicable section  of the  Act."   She surmised  that this  is a                                                               
critical part of SB 98.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  suggested that the language  on page 2,                                                               
line  28, of  SB  98, which  reads,  "Sec. 9.    AS 05.25.040  is                                                               
repealed and reenacted  to read:" is not the normal  way a simple                                                               
addition to statute is drafted.                                                                                                 
MS. McCARTHY pointed out, however,  that language on page 2, line                                                               
27, does say, "* Sec. 3.  Section  9, ch. 28, SLA 2000 is amended                                                             
to read:".  She indicated that  the language on line 27 is simply                                                               
how that portion of Sec. 9, Chapter 28, SLA 2000, reads.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA   suggested  that  the   committee  consider                                                               
amending SB  98 so as  to clarify that  the bill only  applies to                                                               
causes of action that arise in the future.                                                                                      
SENATOR BUNDE said he has no objections to such a change.                                                                       
CHAIR McGUIRE said such a change seems reasonable.                                                                              
Number 1344                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  made a motion to  adopt Conceptual Amendment                                                               
1, to  add "only"  to page  3, line 12,  after "applies".   There                                                               
being no objection, Conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GARA, noting that he  takes people on his raft all                                                               
the  time,  declared  a  potential  conflict  of  interest.    He                                                               
referred  to  Senator  Bunde's  example  of  an  unforeseen  wave                                                               
causing the  death or  injury of  a passenger,  and said  that he                                                               
disagreed  that the  owner and/or  operator could  be sued  under                                                               
current law.   If it is really an  unforeseen circumstance, there                                                               
could not  be a  lawsuit because  there is  no liability  in such                                                               
circumstances.  Of SB 98 overall, he remarked:                                                                                  
     We're taking  away rights to  people with  valid claims                                                                    
     by  saying  we're just  trying  to  stop the  frivolous                                                                    
     ones, but I  wish we could sort of tailor  our bills to                                                                    
     just apply  to the  frivolous ones  rather than  to the                                                                    
     valid ones too.   So here, we're taking  away the right                                                                    
     for  somebody  to  sue for  negligence,  just  in  case                                                                    
     somebody  filed  a  frivolous  suit.    That's  just  a                                                                    
     comment.   I will  probably ... vote  in favor  of this                                                                    
     bill if I make sure I  understand it correctly.  So let                                                                    
     me go  through ...  [the] three understandings  I have,                                                                    
     and just tell  me if I'm correct about  this. ... We're                                                                    
     only   ...    changing   the   liability    rules   for                                                                    
     noncommercial users.  Right?                                                                                               
SENATOR BUNDE said that is correct.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GARA then said:                                                                                                  
     Even if you are a  noncommercial boat or aircraft owner                                                                    
     and you  take somebody  out and  you do  have liability                                                                    
     insurance, you're still liable up  to the limits of the                                                                    
     liability insurance.  Is that correct?                                                                                     
SENATOR  BUNDE  said that  is  correct,  adding that  he  himself                                                               
carries  liability insurance  because  there  are accidents  that                                                               
could  occur   involving  someone  other  than   a  passenger  or                                                               
property.   He suggested  that it  is prohibitively  expensive to                                                               
carry maximum,  or sufficient, liability  coverage; at  least for                                                               
aircraft, it  would have to be  $1 million per seat.   Surely the                                                               
issue of the waiver will come  up, he surmised, noting that there                                                               
have been  a number discussions  on this issue  in the past.   He                                                               
noted  that  someone  else's rights  cannot  be  suborned;  thus,                                                               
although someone could sign a  waiver beforehand, the waiver does                                                               
not bind surviving family members.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  then referred  to page 2,  lines 21-26.   He                                                               
said:  "[Subparagraph]  (B) says [that] if  you're a recreational                                                               
user  and you  fail to  get a  waiver, then  you don't  enjoy the                                                               
liability limitation."                                                                                                          
SENATOR BUNDE confirmed this.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  said he thinks that  the distinction between                                                               
commercial  and noncommercial  users is  a good  one and  is glad                                                               
that SB 98 is limited to  noncommercial operators, and that it is                                                               
wise  to  allow  someone  to  recover  up  to  the  limit  of  an                                                               
operator's liability insurance.  He said  he did not have any big                                                               
objections to the bill anymore.                                                                                                 
Number 1636                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS moved to  report CSSB 98(TRA), as amended,                                                               
out  of   committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  the                                                               
accompanying zero  fiscal note.   There  being no  objection, HCS                                                               
CSSB  98(JUD)  was reported  from  the  House Judiciary  Standing                                                               
SB 41 - MEDICAID COSTS AND CRIMES                                                                                             
Number 1640                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
CS FOR  SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR  SENATE BILL NO. 41(FIN),  "An Act                                                               
relating to  medical care  and crimes  relating to  medical care,                                                               
including  medical  care  and  crimes  relating  to  the  medical                                                               
assistance program, catastrophic  illness assistance, and medical                                                               
assistance for chronic and acute medical conditions."                                                                           
Number 1667                                                                                                                     
SENATOR LYDA GREEN, Alaska  State Legislature, sponsor, indicated                                                               
that  after the  sponsor statement  for SSSB  41 was  prepared, a                                                               
"Medicaid  audit" was  conducted by  the Division  of Legislative                                                               
Audit.  She  relayed that one of the  audit's recommendations was                                                               
that the  director of  the Division  of Medical  Assistance (DMA)                                                               
should provide  for a full-time,  ongoing service  provider audit                                                               
function.   Another of the  audit's recommendations was  that the                                                               
legislature should  consider adopting specific  criminal statutes                                                               
related to Medicaid  fraud in order to  enhance the effectiveness                                                               
of the Medicaid  Fraud Control Unit (MFCU).  She  said that these                                                               
two points  of that audit  are encompassed  in SSSB 41,  and that                                                               
SSSB  41  has been  included  in  the governor's  "crime  package                                                               
SENATOR  GREEN said  that the  cost  of the  Medicaid program  in                                                               
Alaska  has increased  an average  of 20  percent per  year since                                                               
1999,  growing the  program from  $396 million  in 1999,  to $936                                                               
million in  2004 -  a total  increase of  $540 million  over five                                                               
years.   Were this increase  due only  to an increase  in clients                                                               
that  qualify   for  Medicaid  and/or  an   increase  in  federal                                                               
requirements, it  would be [acceptable].   However,  according to                                                               
research, there is a 7-percent  waste factor in Alaska's Medicaid                                                               
program.    Additionally,  she   relayed,  there  are  nationwide                                                               
estimates  of  5  to  20  percent  fraud  in  both  Medicaid  and                                                               
Medicare.   With regard to  Alaska's Medicaid program,  she said,                                                               
even a 5, 6, or 7 percent fraud  rate can translate into 10 to 20                                                               
percent of nearly a $1 billion budget.                                                                                          
SENATOR GREEN suggested that that  money would be better spent on                                                               
the  people  who actually  need  medical  assistance.   She  made                                                               
mention of a letter dated  May 12, 2003, from Steve Branchflower,                                                               
current  director of  the  Office of  Victims'  Rights (OVR)  and                                                               
former director of  the Alaska Medicaid Fraud Control  Unit.  She                                                               
relayed that on  page [2] of that letter,  Mr. Branchflower wrote                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     Alaska is  the only state  that has no  specific health                                                                    
     care  criminal  theft statutes  on  the  books.   As  a                                                                    
     result,  prosecutors  must  use  non-specific  criminal                                                                    
     statutes  to  prosecute  healthcare  professionals  who                                                                    
     operate in  a highly  technical field  and are  able to                                                                    
     mount   expensive   and    well-financed   (and   often                                                                    
     successful) defenses.   Consequently, the  record shows                                                                    
     that  there have  been very  few prosecutions-far  less                                                                    
     than one would expect-given  the hundreds of million of                                                                    
     dollars  which flow  through Alaska's  Medicaid program                                                                    
     each year  to less  than 10,000  participating Medicaid                                                                    
Number 1863                                                                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN  recommended that members  read the  entire letter,                                                               
adding that  it contains a  lot of great information  that points                                                               
out the need  for some major reforms.   Included in SSSB  41 is a                                                               
requirement  that the  Department of  Health and  Social Services                                                               
(DHSS) hire  an outside  auditor who will  begin doing  a regular                                                               
audit process on billings and  claims that come into the Medicaid                                                               
program.  There are also requirements  that the DHSS follow up on                                                               
those  claims that  are not  prosecuted  in court,  and that  the                                                               
"entire  system be  much more  aggressive  and in  tune with  the                                                               
purpose of  the program, [which]  is to provide the  most medical                                                               
assistance possible to the people who need it," she added.                                                                      
SENATOR GREEN went on to say:                                                                                                   
     While we  were doing the  earlier writing of  the bill,                                                                    
     we  found  that  the  language  actually  pertained  to                                                                    
     providers;  we'd unknowingly  left out  the recipients.                                                                    
     And  the recipient  group was  meeting here  in Juneau,                                                                    
     and  they went  to the  department and  they said,  "We                                                                    
     think recipients  ought to be included;  we know people                                                                    
     who  are   abusing  the  system,   and  we   want  them                                                                    
     included."  And although that  dollar cost is far less,                                                                    
     the  integrity of  the  program, as  far  as they  were                                                                    
     concerned,  was  jeopardized  ....    And  so  we  have                                                                    
     [added]  the language  to  include  recipients as  well                                                                    
     And  ..., based  on  the  amount of  harm  done by  the                                                                    
     illegal  claim,   the  incorrect  process,   there's  a                                                                    
     penalty that's  invoked ... If  you look on to  page 4,                                                                    
     ... line 23, ... it talks  about the class B felony, if                                                                    
     [the claim]  pertains to anything over  $25,000, and it                                                                    
     goes on  through the different steps  and it replicates                                                                    
     ...  similar  penalties  for  other  actions  that  are                                                                    
     comparable. ...  One of  the things  that also  came of                                                                    
     this  is   ...  language  that  says   the  legislature                                                                    
     requires the department to do  the annual audit, and it                                                                    
     is at a percentage that  is .75 percent of all enrolled                                                                    
     providers with  there being no  less than an  annual 75                                                                    
     audits   being  done   regularly,  which   [is]  fairly                                                                    
     aggressive ....                                                                                                            
Number 2001                                                                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN continued:                                                                                                        
     There  are many  providers  on the  books  who are  not                                                                    
     large users of  Medicaid, so the total  number could be                                                                    
     somewhat  misleading, but  this would  keep it  in [an]                                                                    
     area where  ... we would  have a good cross  section of                                                                    
     all providers  who would  be subject  to audit  and ...                                                                    
     who would be being checked.  ... There's quite a bit of                                                                    
     recovery  after a  successful lawsuit.    You may  have                                                                    
     read about the one in  Anchorage last year [and/or] the                                                                    
     one in  Fairbanks last  year.   And there  were several                                                                    
     hundred  thousand dollars  recovered  from those,  from                                                                    
     [doctors] who  were doing some illegal  prescribing and                                                                    
     assisting patients in ... selling  drugs on the street.                                                                    
     And they  were sort of  bringing the money back  in and                                                                    
     getting new  prescriptions and going  back and  kind of                                                                    
     had a pretty good deal going, actually.                                                                                    
     And  [this is]  very harmful  to our  system.   But the                                                                    
     unfortunate  part  [is  that they]  were  not  able  to                                                                    
     prosecute  on Medicaid  fraud;  they  had to  prosecute                                                                    
     based  on  the  crime  they were  committing  that  was                                                                    
     parallel or  coincidental to the  Medicaid fraud.   And                                                                    
     certainly Steve  Branchflower in  his letter  lays that                                                                    
     out very  clearly and far better  than I.  But  the ...                                                                    
     money  that would  be brought  in under  ... successful                                                                    
     prosecutions,  ...  [if  SSSB  41 is  approved  by  the                                                                    
     legislature],  will go  back into  funding the  audits.                                                                    
     ... The  department as well  ... [as] myself  have been                                                                    
     concerned  with some  comments that  these audits  take                                                                    
     too  long [and]  people don't  get back  to the  person                                                                    
     being  audited,  and  [so]  we  have  fully  funded  an                                                                    
     additional audit position in  our operating budget this                                                                    
Number 2073                                                                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN concluded:                                                                                                        
     The  audit  firm  being  hired  is  going  to  have  an                                                                    
     additional function from this  point forward; they will                                                                    
     not only  do the initial  audit and find  the suspected                                                                    
     files,  they  will  begin the  investigation  as  well,                                                                    
     freeing  up our  Medicaid auditors  to do  more of  the                                                                    
     prosecutorial work.  And so  we're saying that we think                                                                    
     it's  appropriate for  this money  to be  available for                                                                    
     appropriation to  fund that function, and  to certainly                                                                    
     not keep anyone being audited  in a delay status or ...                                                                    
     [have  it go]  on  in an  unprofessional  manner.   The                                                                    
     department has  agreed that this  is a concern  to them                                                                    
     and they intend to see these go more quickly.                                                                              
     There are always, I assume,  ... going to be people who                                                                    
     choose to  do things other  than [by] the book,  and we                                                                    
     have complaints about people who  will say, "This audit                                                                    
     impacted  me unfairly,"  but I  find it  very difficult                                                                    
     that  anyone could  sit here  and say  that they  think                                                                    
     it's not  appropriate for  us to  criminalize something                                                                    
     that is so [incredibly expensive]  for this state.  And                                                                    
     we  ...  - [along  with]  the  Department of  Law,  the                                                                    
     Department  of Health  and Social  Services, and  Steve                                                                    
     Branchflower with  the Office of Victims'  Rights - ...                                                                    
     worked many, many, many hours  on bringing this to this                                                                    
     condition; all have agreed that  this will work for the                                                                    
     purposes  of each  of the  departments concerned.   And                                                                    
     with that, I welcome any questions.                                                                                        
CHAIR McGUIRE turned attention to  a document entitled "DMA notes                                                               
on ASMA SB  41 comments," and indicated that  this document makes                                                               
reference to letters  that were sent by the  Alaska State Medical                                                               
Association (ASMA).  She said  that she has heard complaints from                                                               
doctors  who still  treat Medicaid  patients  that audits  invade                                                               
patients' privacy.  She posited  that some could argue that since                                                               
Medicaid patients are receiving  a state-funded service, there is                                                               
a  compelling state  interest to  access these  records during  a                                                               
fraud investigation.   However, there  is a concern that  in some                                                               
of these  audits, the  information that  has been  requested goes                                                               
above and beyond that Medicaid  patient's record and into his/her                                                               
family members' records and into  the records of other, similarly                                                               
situated patients.   She surmised, though, that  the latter might                                                               
be done to  determine whether a specific treatment  is the normal                                                               
way to  treat a  patient with  a like  condition.   Chair McGuire                                                               
said she  had concerns about  this issue and asked  Senator Green                                                               
whether  anyone  has  yet  addressed the  legal  aspects  of  it,                                                               
particularly  in light  of Alaskans'  constitutionally guaranteed                                                               
right of privacy.                                                                                                               
Number 2273                                                                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN indicated that the  department might be better able                                                               
to address that issue.  She  added that issues of privacy change,                                                               
both for providers  and for recipients, when  someone arranges to                                                               
have another entity pay for  services, although this doesn't mean                                                               
that it  would be proper  to make  such records available  to the                                                               
public.   She  opined  that  the state  does  have  the right  to                                                               
validate claims and  charges.  And although she has  never seen a                                                               
Medicaid  audit  conducted, she  said,  one  of the  things  that                                                               
happens often  is that in  a class  of provider, the  auditors do                                                               
look  for similar  irregularities, for  example, pertaining  to a                                                               
particular  [doctor],  a  particular   clinic,  or  a  particular                                                               
[patient].   She  remarked that  it is  understandable that  once                                                               
some person  or entity comes  under suspicion,  the investigation                                                               
would ramp  up and, thus,  the scope of information  being sought                                                               
would be expanded.                                                                                                              
CHAIR McGUIRE  indicated that she  still has concerns  about this                                                               
issue.   She  pointed out  that in  some cases,  at issue  is the                                                               
conduct of the  physician, rather than that of the  patient.  She                                                               
then noted that another issue that  has been raised by the Alaska                                                               
State  Medical  Association  is that  when  there  are  questions                                                               
regarding which  treatment codes to use,  Medicaid officials have                                                               
been less than helpful.  She  remarked that the DMA's response to                                                               
this  concern, located  in the  aforementioned document,  is very                                                               
convoluted.  So to hold  someone criminally liable for legitimate                                                               
errors in coding is unfair,  especially considering that Medicaid                                                               
officials do not provide adequate responses to questions.                                                                       
TAPE 03-60, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2385                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE  continued, "If  we're going to  raise the  bar and                                                               
apply  criminal sanctions,  I think  we  ought to  be giving  the                                                               
medical community  as many  tools as  we possibly  can to  make a                                                               
good-faith  effort to  follow the  rules and  treat the  patients                                                               
SENATOR  GREEN mentioned  that she  thought  there are  currently                                                               
some  changes  to the  coding  system  occurring at  the  federal                                                               
level,  adding  that these  changes  may  alleviate some  of  the                                                               
ASMA's  concerns.    She  noted,   however,  that  DMA's  written                                                               
response to this concern includes  the statement, "It is expected                                                               
that providers deliver  and bill for services in  the same manner                                                               
as they serve  the general public."  Therefore,  she opined, they                                                               
should be  using the  same code  for both  types of  patients; it                                                               
should not have to be a puzzle that has to be figured out.                                                                      
CHAIR McGUIRE  offered that  even as far  as serving  the general                                                               
public, the  coding system  is currently quite  a quagmire.   She                                                               
added,  "A good  physician will  try to  assign the  billing code                                                               
that will offer their patient the  best mode of treatment and the                                                               
best possibility  of coverage,  all within  the realm  of truth."                                                               
For  example, a  physical  examination can  be [coded]  different                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  asked what  happens to the  privacy issue                                                               
when audits  are performed by  private entities; for  example, an                                                               
audit performed by an insurance company.                                                                                        
CHAIR  McGUIRE  said  her   concerns  pertain  to  doctor-patient                                                               
confidentiality in general.                                                                                                     
SENATOR  GREEN said  that the  forms which  providers are  having                                                               
patients  sign  allow information  to  be  shared with  insurance                                                               
companies -  those entities that are  being asked to pay  for the                                                               
service.   She said she assumes  that this is also  the case with                                                               
Medicaid; the  payor has the right  to know that the  service has                                                               
been provided  and that it  is the  appropriate service.   Once a                                                               
patient has  asked a third  party to pay for  all or part  of the                                                               
service, the patient is in a different category.                                                                                
Number 2247                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  McGUIRE said  she did  not disagree  with that  point, but                                                               
     Where my questions  on the privacy issue go  to are the                                                                    
     ancillary  folks that  get involved  when  an audit  is                                                                    
     conducted.  And those  are the patient's relatives that                                                                    
     may be  treated by  the same  practitioner -  ... these                                                                    
     are experiences that come from  the medical community -                                                                    
     or possibly even an unrelated  patient ... [who] is not                                                                    
     a  Medicaid recipient  that is  receiving care  under a                                                                    
     similar  category.     So  those  are   the  folks  I'm                                                                    
     concerned about.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said that he  likes the bill and the concept,                                                               
and he understands the motivation behind  the bill.  He said that                                                               
he wanted to be  sure that the cost of the  extra audits is going                                                               
to be justified  by extra recoveries.  He then  broached the idea                                                               
of letting  the attorney  general's office bring  a civil  case -                                                               
somewhat akin  to what is  done under the unfair  trade practices                                                               
Act -  such that if there  is Medicaid fraud, the  state would be                                                               
entitled  to recover  the overcharge,  it's investigation  costs,                                                               
it's [attorney]  fees, and  a penalty.   Because there  are proof                                                               
problems in  criminal cases  that don't apply  in civil  cases, a                                                               
conceptual  amendment  that  provides  for a  very  simple  cost-                                                               
recovery action by the attorney  general's office might be a good                                                               
idea, he suggested.                                                                                                             
Number 2147                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  GREEN   said  that   in  the   audit  process,   as  the                                                               
[independent]  audit firm  checks the  Medicaid records  and goes                                                               
through  claims and  billings, if  something raises  a red  flag,                                                               
those with the  biggest red flags are  prosecutable whereas those                                                               
with smaller red flags or yellow  flags go back to the department                                                               
to deal with.  The  department then goes through an "interoffice"                                                               
process of  reevaluating the case,  asking for  more information,                                                               
substantiating billings,  and speaking  to the  parties involved.                                                               
She posited  that this  latter process  probably takes  place all                                                               
the time.                                                                                                                       
SENATOR  GREEN  predicted  that   doing  as  Representative  Gara                                                               
suggested wouldn't  be necessary, because under  what is proposed                                                               
via  SSSB  41,  the  DOL  and   the  DHSS  will  be  required  to                                                               
communicate   with   each   other   regarding   potential   fraud                                                               
situations.  She noted that those  who are found to have violated                                                               
the  provisions of  the Medicaid  program are  removed from  that                                                               
program  for  a period  of  time.    She recommended  asking  the                                                               
departments  for  their   view  regarding  Representative  Gara's                                                               
suggestion of providing for a civil remedy.                                                                                     
Number 2046                                                                                                                     
DONALD R. KITCHEN, Assistant  Attorney General, Medicaid Provider                                                               
Fraud,  Office  of  Special   Prosecutions  &  Appeals,  Criminal                                                               
Division, Department of Law (DOL), on that issue, said:                                                                         
     I think what [Representative  Gara is] talking about is                                                                    
     essentially  a   civil  false-claims  action   that  is                                                                    
     permissible  in the  federal  system.   And  I did  not                                                                    
     include it  when we were working  with Mr. Branchflower                                                                    
     and other  folks in getting this  started, only because                                                                    
     I thought it  was probably a bit too  ambitious for the                                                                    
     first  time  around.     But  certainly,  investigative                                                                    
     costs,  our  costs,  and penalties  are  [appropriately                                                                    
     recovered] in the federal system  when these same kinds                                                                    
     of suits are  brought.  And it would,  I believe, cover                                                                    
     probably what's  considered a  middle ground  that does                                                                    
     not  get  moneys  recovered,  and  that  is  where  the                                                                    
     provider  gets money  they're not  entitled to  and DMA                                                                    
     doesn't  go  after   them  administratively  when  they                                                                    
     could.   So, I  think a  civil false-claims  action, as                                                                    
     requested,  is a  good idea;  I  don't know  if we  can                                                                    
     hammer  it out  this  late, but  I  would certainly  be                                                                    
     willing to try.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  said  that  his worry  is  that  under  the                                                               
existing remedies,  if all that  can be recovered are  court rule                                                               
costs,  those don't  include  investigative costs.    Is there  a                                                               
statute that provides for the recovery of investigative costs?                                                                  
MR.  KITCHEN said  that he  had not  thought about  including the                                                               
recovery of investigative costs in  the version that's before the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA suggested  that  Mr. Sniffen  from the  Fair                                                               
Business   Practice   Section,    Civil   Division   (Anchorage),                                                               
Department of Law,  could probably help Mr. Kitchen  draft such a                                                               
provision  in  a short  period  time.    He asked  Senator  Green                                                               
whether she would be interested in exploring such an addition.                                                                  
SENATOR GREEN  said, "I don't have  any problem with it;  I don't                                                               
know enough about  it to speak to it."   She suggested asking Mr.                                                               
Branchflower for his opinion on this issue.                                                                                     
Number 1951                                                                                                                     
STEPHEN BRANCHFLOWER, Director, Office  of Victims' Rights (OVR),                                                               
Alaska   State  Legislature,   said   that   there  are   federal                                                               
regulations that every state that  accepts federal funding to pay                                                               
for the  Medicaid program has to  agree to, and that  when he was                                                               
the  Director  of the  Medicaid  Fraud  Control Unit,  that  unit                                                               
handled both civil and criminal matters.   Most of the money that                                                               
was  recovered  during his  tenure  -  almost  $3 million  -  was                                                               
recovered  civilly, he  explained.   He opined  that the  federal                                                               
false claim  statutes are  good, but added  that he  would prefer                                                               
for the bill to go forward,  "in the interest of at least loading                                                               
the guns of the prosecutors ...  for this year," and then revisit                                                               
it at a later time.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA indicated  that  he would  ask the  attorney                                                               
general's office to  work on an amendment that  Senator Green and                                                               
other interested  parties could look  at before the bill  goes to                                                               
the House floor;  if the amendment is acceptable  to everyone, it                                                               
could then be offered on the House floor.                                                                                       
CHAIR  McGUIRE said  that although  what  Representative Gara  is                                                               
proposing seems reasonable, she did not  want to hold the bill up                                                               
too long.                                                                                                                       
MR.  KITCHEN indicated  that he  might be  able to  come up  with                                                               
appropriate language within a couple of days.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  relayed that what  he is interested in  is a                                                               
provision  that  would  allow  for  the  recovery,  in  full,  of                                                               
investigation   costs,  attorney   fees   for  overcharges,   and                                                               
penalties similar  to what  is provided for  in the  unfair trade                                                               
practices Act.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR  GREEN  noted that  SSSB  41  also  has a  House  Finance                                                               
Committee referral,  and suggested  that perhaps an  amendment to                                                               
that effect could be added in that committee.                                                                                   
CHAIR McGUIRE  relayed that  in addition to  Mr. Kitchen  and Mr.                                                               
Branchflower, representatives  from the Department of  Health and                                                               
Social Services were also available to answer questions.                                                                        
Number 1721                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  mentioned  that language  on  page  3,                                                               
lines 24-25, is  similar to language on page 7,  line 31, through                                                               
page 8,  line [2].   He  said he is  concerned that  there aren't                                                               
statutory standards for the protection  of patients' privacy, and                                                               
suggested that staff should also  work on such a language change.                                                               
He  then turned  attention to  language on  page 4,  lines 18-19,                                                               
which  would make  it  a  crime to  knowingly  destroy a  medical                                                               
assistance record.   He suggested  that it would  be unreasonable                                                               
to expect  providers to keep  all such records  indefinitely and,                                                               
therefore,  there ought  to be  a stipulation  that such  records                                                               
could be destroyed after a certain period of time.                                                                              
MR. BRANCHFLOWER, on the issue of patients' privacy, said:                                                                      
     Keep in  mind that ... the  Medicaid program reimburses                                                                    
     [providers] before  and, in most cases,  in the absence                                                                    
     of  any proof  by  the provider  that  the service  has                                                                    
     actually been  rendered.   And so  it's only  after the                                                                    
     fact,  through audits,  and sometimes  many months  and                                                                    
     even years  after the fact,  that an effort is  made to                                                                    
     reconcile the  billings with the  medical charts.   And                                                                    
     that, of course, gets into the question of privacy.                                                                        
     Now, on the  provider's side, ... when  a doctor wishes                                                                    
     to  become involved  with Medicaid,  they have  to fill                                                                    
     out  a form  that's  called a  ... provider  enrollment                                                                    
     form.  And essentially that  form is a contract between                                                                    
     the provider  and the  state, and one  of the  terms in                                                                    
     this contract is that the  provider has to abide by all                                                                    
     the federal regulations; the  whole Medicaid program is                                                                    
     driven  largely by  federal regulations.    And one  of                                                                    
     those provisions  is to open the  person's records, the                                                                    
     provider's records, to auditors ....                                                                                       
     On the  other side  of the  equation, on  the patient's                                                                    
     side,  all of  the people,  all of  the recipients  for                                                                    
     Medicaid benefits,  are eligible  as a result  of their                                                                    
     indigency.   And what happens  is, when a  person wants                                                                    
     to  obtain  Medicaid  benefits, they  go  down  to  the                                                                    
     public assistance  office and they fill  out the forms,                                                                    
     and   ...  the   forms   address   not  only   Medicaid                                                                    
     eligibility,   but   also    eligibility   for   public                                                                    
     assistance, food stamps, and so  forth.  And there is a                                                                    
     waiver there,  [a] prospective  waiver, that  they sign                                                                    
     as a condition of eligibility.                                                                                             
Number 1527                                                                                                                     
     So, between the provider  enrollment agreement form and                                                                    
     the   recipient's  prospective   waiver,  all   of  the                                                                    
     concerns  that you  have expressed  are taken  care of.                                                                    
     Essentially, they specifically agree  in writing to ...                                                                    
     waive the  doctor-patient privilege.   And in  terms of                                                                    
     third  persons'   getting  swept  up,   sometimes  what                                                                    
     happens  is that  - and  I  would say  it happens  more                                                                    
     frequently  than  not  -  when  a  case  comes  to  the                                                                    
     attention  of the  Medicaid  Fraud  [Control] Unit  and                                                                    
     there is  reason to believe that  there's some criminal                                                                    
     conduct that  may have transpired, ...  the prosecutors                                                                    
     will take  their evidence before  a judge and  seek the                                                                    
     issuance of the search  warrant; [a] search warrant, of                                                                    
     course, is  only issued upon  probable cause,  so there                                                                    
     has to be evidence ... sufficient for the issuance.                                                                        
MR. BRANCHFLOWER continued:                                                                                                     
     And  they typically  go into  a  provider's office  and                                                                    
     they will seize the  entire patient population in terms                                                                    
     of  the  files,  and  usually   this  is  hundreds  and                                                                    
     hundreds  of  files.   And  what  happens is  that  the                                                                    
     auditor that works within  the Medicaid Fraud [Control]                                                                    
     Unit  will  take  each  patient  file  and  attempt  to                                                                    
     reconcile  the billings  for  that  provider, not  only                                                                    
     with the  ... Medicaid  billings but also  [with regard                                                                    
     to] the  private payor, the  cash payor,  the insurance                                                                    
     payors, and so forth.                                                                                                      
     The  reason   [for  doing  this]   is  that   there  is                                                                    
     essentially a  law that says  that the  provider cannot                                                                    
     charge the  State of  Alaska more  money than  ... non-                                                                    
     Medicaid  patients.     And   so  these  are   all  ...                                                                    
     circumstantial threads of fraud  that can be ultimately                                                                    
     incorporated into a  charging document.  So  even as to                                                                    
     third persons, even as  to non-Medicaid patients, those                                                                    
     records  are  only  obtained after  some  judge  passes                                                                    
     judgment on the existence of  probable cause.  And so I                                                                    
     think there  is already  in place  a system  to protect                                                                    
     the privacy of  all of the parties who  are involved in                                                                    
     this issue.                                                                                                                
Number 1428                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE asked Mr. Branchflower to describe exactly what                                                                   
purportedly guarantees the privacy of [non-Medicaid] patients.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked whether a search warrant has to                                                                  
be obtained in all cases.                                                                                                       
MR. BRANCHFLOWER replied:                                                                                                       
         Unless there is a specific waiver from the non-                                                                        
     Medicaid patient, yes.   I don't know of  any other way                                                                    
     of  obtaining  a  medical  charge  for  a  non-Medicaid                                                                    
     patient  ...  unless  the person  agrees  to  ...  them                                                                    
     obtaining  it. ...  The doctor-patient  privilege, with                                                                    
     respect to non-Medicaid patients,  is something that is                                                                    
     already  a  matter of  law  in  the [Alaska]  Rules  of                                                                    
     Evidence.   Plus there  are provisions  for maintaining                                                                    
     the  confidentiality  of  the   persons  who  are  non-                                                                    
     Medicaid  patients.   And it's  been my  experience ...                                                                    
     that  when we  file charging  documents, which  ... are                                                                    
     public  records, we  ... preserve  the identity  of the                                                                    
     patients by using their initials  in very much the same                                                                    
     way we do with sexual assault victims ....                                                                                 
     And of  course the facts  that give rise to  the charge                                                                    
     are stated in those  pleadings, but there's usually, in                                                                    
     my  experience, nothing  about the  statement of  facts                                                                    
     that  would  disclose  the  identity  of  the  patients                                                                    
     themselves.  Now, it may come  to pass that as the case                                                                    
     moves through  a trial,  that it  will be  necessary to                                                                    
     subpoena  patients who  are not  Medicaid patients;  in                                                                    
     that case,  appropriate steps can be  taken to preserve                                                                    
     that  person's privacy,  and  that will  be  up to  the                                                                    
     trial judge.  There are rules  in place to take care of                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked what privacy right the patient,                                                                  
whether Medicaid or non-Medicaid, has from the investigator.                                                                    
Number 1278                                                                                                                     
MR. BRANCHFLOWER reiterated that the Medicaid patient has                                                                       
prospectively waived his/her right to privacy, adding that most                                                                 
of  the  investigator's  work  focuses  on  the  conduct  of  the                                                               
provider  rather  than the  recipient,  although  there are  many                                                               
examples of recipient  fraud.  Because of  the resources required                                                               
to  investigate  Medicaid  fraud cases,  however,  investigator's                                                               
choose to "get the biggest bang  for the buck" by going after the                                                               
provider's records.   So when  recipients are  being interviewed,                                                               
they  are  asked  whether  services  were  actually  rendered  as                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG noted, however,  that in looking through                                                               
individual  patient  files,  investigators have  access  to  very                                                               
private information.                                                                                                            
MR. BRANCHFLOWER  acknowledged that investigators do  have access                                                               
to  medical  records and  the  information  that relates  to  the                                                               
treatment that  was claimed  to have been  provided.   He argued,                                                               
however,  that auditors,  even when  just looking  at information                                                               
from  a   financial  standpoint,   are  also  bound   by  federal                                                               
confidentiality regulations.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he would feel  more comfortable if                                                               
there was language  in SSSB 41 that said due  care must be taken,                                                               
in the  course of  the investigation,  to preserve  the patient's                                                               
privacy.   He asked  that staff  work on  such language  with the                                                               
sponsor.   He then  returned to the  issue of  destroying medical                                                               
assistance records, and  asked that a provision  be included that                                                               
would allow  a provider to  destroy such records after  a certain                                                               
period of time.                                                                                                                 
MR. BRANCHFLOWER offered that the  answer to that issue lies with                                                               
the fact that  before a person can be subject  to prosecution for                                                               
any of the  actions listed on page  4, lines 18-19, it  has to be                                                               
proven that the  person acted with the  requisite culpable mental                                                               
state, which  is knowingly.   He  acknowledged that  providers do                                                               
eventually  destroy records  as a  matter of  course, and  opined                                                               
that they would be protected  from prosecution because they would                                                               
not  be doing  it  with  the intent  of  advancing  fraud of  the                                                               
Medicaid  program.   He relayed  that it  would be  acceptable if                                                               
some sort  of affirmative  defense or  exclusion were  added that                                                               
would allow  for the destruction  of such  records if done  for a                                                               
legitimate reason.                                                                                                              
MR. KITCHEN noted that the  "Medicaid rules" require providers to                                                               
keep  such records  for seven  years.   He assured  the committee                                                               
that  the DOL  would never  prosecute providers  for not  keeping                                                               
records  that the  Medicaid program  no longer  required them  to                                                               
Number 0981                                                                                                                     
ANNE  CARPENETI,  Assistant   Attorney  General,  Legal  Services                                                               
Section-Juneau,  Criminal  Division,  Department  of  Law  (DOL),                                                               
after noting that the language on  page 4, lines 18-19, was taken                                                               
from  the statutes  pertaining  to the  crime  of tampering  with                                                               
public records  in the second  degree, suggested that  the phrase                                                               
"knowing that the  person lacks the authority to do  so" could be                                                               
added  after   "record"  in   order  to   address  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg's concern.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  expressed a  willingness to  offer such                                                               
language as an amendment.                                                                                                       
MR.  KITCHEN suggested,  alternatively,  that  adding the  phrase                                                               
"except as otherwise permitted by  law" would accomplish the same                                                               
thing without  creating the problem  of having to prove  who told                                                               
whom to destroy the medical assistance records.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG  indicated   that  he   preferred  Mr.                                                               
Kitchen's suggestion instead.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARA objected, and said:                                                                                         
     Then you'll have the situation  of somebody who removes                                                                    
     or  impairs the  legibility  or the  availability of  a                                                                    
     record:   a secretary,  who doesn't  know the  law, who                                                                    
     does  so by  mistake,  or does  so  because their  boss                                                                    
     wants them just  to deal with records  somehow, and all                                                                    
     of a sudden they'll have committed a crime.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM said no.                                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE pointed  out that knowingly is  the culpable mental                                                               
Number 0839                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GARA argued, however:                                                                                            
     But ... when you crumble  up a record, you're knowingly                                                                    
     crumbling up the record.   The real question is, do you                                                                    
     know  that you're  breaking [the]  law or  do you  know                                                                    
     that  you're   ...  intentionally  trying   to  deprive                                                                    
     somebody  of a  record?   But just  knowingly impairing                                                                    
     the  legibility,  [well]  that's just  crumbling  up  a                                                                    
     record without  any bad  intent.   The question  is, do                                                                    
     you have  any bad  intent?  And  that part  is actually                                                                    
     throughout this ... page 4.   We're not very careful in                                                                    
     limiting these  criminal sanctions  to people  who have                                                                    
     bad  intent; we're  just limiting  them  to people  who                                                                    
     know the  physical process that they're  going through,                                                                    
     of throwing  out a record  or destroying a  record, but                                                                    
     they could just be trying to  thin out a file for their                                                                    
     boss ....  And so I've got an overall concern here.                                                                        
MR.  BRANCHFLOWER said  that  perhaps the  solution  would be  to                                                               
stipulate a specific  timeframe, for example, 10  years after the                                                               
preparation of  the document.   That way, providers  could simply                                                               
look at the date on the document.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG suggested that  staff work on this issue                                                               
before the bill's next hearing.                                                                                                 
CHAIR McGUIRE agreed to that  suggestion and instructed committee                                                               
staff  to  focus on  the  issues  of  patients' privacy  and  the                                                               
destruction of the medical assistance records.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM  asked why  the fiscal  note did  not reflect                                                               
the potential savings.                                                                                                          
SENATOR GREEN indicated  that the fiscal notes for  SSSB 41 focus                                                               
on the cost to the state.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said  that he wants SSSB 41 to  be limited to                                                               
intentionally fraudulent conduct.                                                                                               
MR. BRANCHFLOWER  posited that  all of  the issues  the committee                                                               
has  concerns with  could  be  resolved by  working  on the  bill                                                               
[SSSB 41 was held over.]                                                                                                        
HB 303 - USE CRIMINAL FINES FOR YOUTH COURTS                                                                                  
Number 0548                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 303, "An  Act relating to youth  courts and to                                                               
the recommended use  of criminal fines to fund  the activities of                                                               
youth courts; and relating to accounting for criminal fines."                                                                   
Number 0492                                                                                                                     
CLIFF  STONE,  Staff  to Representative  Dan  Ogg,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, presented  HB 303 on  behalf of  Representative Ogg,                                                               
sponsor.   He paraphrased  from the  sponsor statement,  which in                                                               
part read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                      
     The foremost  concern facing Youth Courts  in the State                                                                    
     of Alaska is funding.   These programs are dependent on                                                                    
     the  Juvenile  Accountability   Incentive  Block  Grant                                                                    
     (JAIBG),  a  federal  grant  administered  through  the                                                                    
     Division  of Juvenile  Justice.    The current  federal                                                                    
     budget for  FY04 does not  include any funding  for the                                                                    
     This bill would separately  account for fines that have                                                                    
     been  imposed   under  the  Sentencing   and  Probation                                                                    
     statutes.    The  legislature may  then  appropriate  a                                                                    
     prescribed  percentage of  those fines  that have  been                                                                    
     collected to the Youth Courts.                                                                                             
     The  permissive "may"  and the  inclusion of  the final                                                                    
     sentence  of the  bill  had been  found  by the  Alaska                                                                    
     Supreme  Court   to  not   constitute  unconstitutional                                                                  
     dedicated  funds because  the legislature  continues to                                                                    
     be able to appropriate money as it sees fit.                                                                               
MR. STONE, in  conclusion, indicated that a portion  of the funds                                                               
for the Council  on Domestic Violence and  Sexual Assault (CDVSA)                                                               
is acquired in  a manner similar to what is  being proposed by HB                                                               
303 for youth court funding.                                                                                                    
Number 0351                                                                                                                     
LISA  ALBERT-KONECKY,  Program  Coordinator, Mat-Su  Youth  Court                                                               
(MSYC),  said that  she  has worked  with  juvenile offenders  in                                                               
Alaska for over 17 years.  She continued:                                                                                       
     I'd like  to state that  youth courts around  the state                                                                    
     are  doing an  important job  for Alaska.   Because  of                                                                    
     limited  funds for  state probation-officer  positions,                                                                    
     the  state  cannot  address  juvenile  [crime]  in  its                                                                    
     earliest stage.   Youth courts have taken  a burden off                                                                    
     the  shoulders   of  local  JPOs   [juvenile  probation                                                                    
     officers], who can now concentrate  on the more serious                                                                    
     juvenile offenders.  Currently,  the Mat-Su Youth Court                                                                    
     handles  25 percent  of the  juvenile offenders  in the                                                                    
     [Matanuska-Susitna]  Mat-Su  valley.    Our  recidivism                                                                    
     rate has  stayed under  9 percent  and was  7.5 percent                                                                    
     for last year.                                                                                                             
     Other  significant  statistics  include:   our  student                                                                    
     members have  put in  over 19,000  hours of  service to                                                                    
     their  community  in  the   Mat-Su  Youth  Court  since                                                                    
     program  inception,  [and]  our  students  average  104                                                                    
     hours  each during  their involvement  in the  program.                                                                    
     The  program  also  has   taken  on  first-time  "minor                                                                    
     consuming"  cited  teens,  [and]  since  starting  this                                                                    
     project, we  have dealt  with 108  of those  cases, and                                                                    
     those  involved possession  or consumption  of alcohol.                                                                    
     ... With  an annual  growth of rate  of 7  percent, the                                                                    
     Mat-Su valley  needs all the resources  we can possibly                                                                    
     get  to address  our community  needs.   Please support                                                                    
     House Bill 303.  Thank you very much for your support.                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE predicted  that there would be  a tremendous amount                                                               
of  support  for  HB  303   from  the  House  Judiciary  Standing                                                               
Committee.  She  thanked Ms. Albert-Konecky and  the student MSYC                                                               
members for their work.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM asked  what the recidivism rate  was prior to                                                               
the MSYC's establishment.                                                                                                       
MS.  ALBERT-KONECKY   indicated  that  she  did   not  have  that                                                               
Number 0201                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM said that it  is difficult for him to approve                                                               
of  a  program  without  any empirical  data  showing  that  that                                                               
program serves a purpose.                                                                                                       
MS.  ALBERT-KONECKY   relayed  that  she'd  formerly   worked  at                                                               
McLaughlin Youth  Center, which had  a recidivism rate  of around                                                               
50 percent.                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE remarked  that one of the points of  the program is                                                               
the  recognition  that youth  are  going  to commit  crimes  and,                                                               
therefore, there  has to be  some societal mechanism  for dealing                                                               
with  those crimes.   She  offered her  belief that  youth courts                                                               
serve  a  portion  of  the  community, and  that  judgment  by  a                                                               
youthful offender's peers  has a greater effect  than judgment by                                                               
adults.  She  said that she has seen the  youth court program "do                                                               
miracles," adding, "I think this program is amazing."                                                                           
MR. STONE, in  an effort to allay  Representative Holm's concern,                                                               
said  that a  2002 study  done by  the Urban  Institute's Justice                                                               
Policy  Center gathered  information from  four states  - Alaska,                                                               
Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri.   He said that according to this                                                               
study, Alaska has  only a 6-percent recidivism  rate, whereas the                                                               
"normal system" has a 23-percent recidivism rate.                                                                               
TAPE 03-61, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
MR. STONE  mentioned that  all of the  youth that  participate in                                                               
youth court programs are advocates of these programs.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  said that  he agrees  with the  bill, and                                                               
that he was involved with the  Anchorage Youth Court.  He offered                                                               
his belief  that often, before  the youth court  was established,                                                               
nothing happened to  youthful offenders because of  the volume of                                                               
cases in the regular system.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  said that  he  is  big supporter  of  youth                                                               
courts,  but   acknowledged  that   the  statistics   before  the                                                               
committee  are not  particularly useful.   He  predicted, though,                                                               
that  the  aforementioned  study  probably  does  show  that  the                                                               
recidivism rate  does go down in  a particular area when  a youth                                                               
court  is established  in that  area.   He said  he is  wondering                                                               
whether expanding  the role of  youth courts would allow  them to                                                               
deal effectively with more offenders than they are currently.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE OGG said that he'd  been involved with Kodiak Teen                                                               
Court, and indicated that there is  a danger of a youth court not                                                               
having a sufficient  number of youths involved in it  to meet its                                                               
needs  if a  program  expands too  much.   Before  a youth  court                                                               
expands, he remarked, it has to have sufficient volunteers.                                                                     
Number 0352                                                                                                                     
VIRGINIA  ESPENSHADE,  Director,   Kenai  Peninsula  Youth  Court                                                               
(KPYC), said that HB 303 is  a great bill and she appreciates the                                                               
committee's  support  of   it.    She  relayed   that  the  Urban                                                               
Institute's  study was  specific  to the  Anchorage Youth  Court;                                                               
however, many  of the  15-17 youth courts  in Alaska  are modeled                                                               
after  the  Anchorage  Youth  Court.     She  remarked  that  the                                                               
Anchorage  Youth  Court is  unique  in  the  country in  that  it                                                               
accepts "not guilty" pleas.  She  urged the committee to read the                                                               
Urban Institute's  study, which  compares the recidivism  rate of                                                               
youth courts  with that of  the regular court system  for similar                                                               
MS. ESPENSHADE predicted  that if youth courts  had more funding,                                                               
it would directly  impact the timeliness with which  cases can be                                                               
addressed,  and  would  allow   youth  courts  to  become  better                                                               
equipped to follow up and  monitor sentence compliance.  She said                                                               
that one  of the main  theories behind  youth courts is  a quick,                                                               
timely, appropriate, peer-based response.   She surmised that all                                                               
youth courts  are being "taxed  to the limit,"  particularly with                                                               
the addition  of "minor  consuming alcohol"  cases.   She relayed                                                               
that the  Kenai Peninsula Youth  Court runs two programs,  one in                                                               
Homer and one in Kenai, and  offered that two of the great things                                                               
about all youth courts is  that they are community-based and that                                                               
the theory behind them appears to work in any kind of community.                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE said she appreciates  Ms. Espenshade's hard work on                                                               
behalf of the KPYC and thanked her for her testimony.                                                                           
Number 0491                                                                                                                     
WESTON   EILER,   Chair,   Alaska  Youth   Court   Sustainability                                                               
Coalition, thanked  the committee  for hearing and  supporting HB                                                               
303, and said he is a "member"  of the Juneau Youth Court and has                                                               
been so for  the past three years.   He then went on  to say that                                                               
youth courts  also provide benefits  to youth in general.   There                                                               
are approximately  1,000 youth court advocates  around Alaska, in                                                               
17  different  youth  courts "from  Ketchikan  to  Kotzebue,"  he                                                               
added.     Youth  courts,  in   addition  to  being   a  positive                                                               
alternative  to  the  juvenile justice  system,  allow  youth  an                                                               
opportunity  to help  their  peers, get  training  in the  "basic                                                               
fundamentals  of   law  in  civil   society"  and   in  courtroom                                                               
procedure, and receive mentoring by  attorneys and judges.  Youth                                                               
courts empower youth to make a difference in their communities.                                                                 
CHAIR McGUIRE thanked Mr. Eiler for his work with youth courts.                                                                 
Number 0621                                                                                                                     
DOUG  WOOLIVER,  Administrative Attorney,  Administrative  Staff,                                                               
Office  of  the  Administrative  Director,  Alaska  Court  System                                                               
(ACS),  said that  the ACS  supports HB  303 and  the concept  of                                                               
youth courts.   The  ACS is  a big advocate  of youth  courts and                                                               
sees  a  lot of  their  benefits,  he  added, noting  that  Chief                                                               
Justice Dana  Fabe mentioned  youth courts in  her "State  of the                                                               
Judiciary" address to the legislature.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA asked  whether  youth  courts would  benefit                                                               
from more  funding.  He  said that he would  like to see  the ACS                                                               
request more funding for that purpose.                                                                                          
MR.  WOOLIVER explained  that aside  from providing  youth courts                                                               
with  courtrooms   and  mentors,   the  ACS  is   not  officially                                                               
affiliated with  youth courts.   He suggested that the  best ones                                                               
to answer the  question of whether more funding  would be helpful                                                               
would  be the  youth  courts themselves,  since  they knew  their                                                               
backlog better than he.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA asked  who  submits the  budget request  for                                                               
youth courts.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE OGG said  that youth courts are  funded by federal                                                               
grants and various nonprofit organizations.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked what entity would  be responsible                                                               
for seeing that youth courts get  the funding provided by HB 303,                                                               
should it pass.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE   OGG  suggested   that  those   funds  would   be                                                               
distributed by the "granting  agencies" that currently distribute                                                               
funds for youth courts.                                                                                                         
CHAIR McGUIRE posited  that that aspect of  the legislation would                                                               
be addressed in the House Finance Committee.                                                                                    
Number 0839                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GARA moved to report  HB 303 out of committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal  zero                                                               
note.   There being no  objection, HB  303 was reported  from the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
Number 0874                                                                                                                     
The  House Judiciary  Standing Committee  was [recessed]  at 5:15                                                               
p.m.  to  a   call  of  the  chair.    [The   meeting  never  was                                                               

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