Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/11/1993 08:00 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE March 11, 1993 8:00 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Al Vezey, Chairman Representative Pete Kott, Vice Chairman Representative Harley Olberg Representative Jerry Sanders Representative Gary Davis Representative Fran Ulmer Representative Bettye Davis MEMBERS ABSENT None COMMITTEE CALENDAR HB 81 "An Act relating to the longevity bonus program." COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE MOVED WITH A DO PASS RECOMMENDATION *HCR 1 Proposing amendments to the Uniform Rules of the Alaska State Legislature relating to presiding officers pro tempore; and providing for an effective date. MOVED FROM COMMITTEE WITH NO RECOMMENDATIONS *HB 119 "An Act authorizing a sentencing court to impose a sentence of a day fine instead of a sentence of imprisonment on a defendant convicted of a misdemeanor; directing the Alaska Supreme Court to develop and implement a day fine plan; requiring the Department of Corrections to report to the legislature on the use of day fines; amending Alaska Rule of Criminal Procedure 32; and providing for an effective date." MOVED FROM COMMITTEE WITH INDIVIDUAL RECOMMENDATIONS *HB 142 "An Act relating to enhanced 911 emergency reporting systems; and providing for an effective date." HELD IN COMMITTEE FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION (* first public hearing) WITNESS REGISTER Representative Bettye Davis State Capitol Court Building, Room 600 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 465-3875 Position Statement: Prime Sponsor of HCR 1 Representative Fran Ulmer State Capitol Court Building, Room 601 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 465-4947 Position Statement: Prime Sponsor of HB 119 and HB 142 Charles S. Christensen, III, Staff Counsel Alaska Court System 303 K Street Anchorage, Alaska 99501 (907) 264-8228 Position Statement: Supported the concept of HB 119 John George, Lobbyist Alaska State Fire Fighters Association Alaska State Fire Chiefs Association 9515 Moraine Way Juneau, Alaska 99801 (907) 789-0172 Position Statement: Supported the concept of HB 142 Larry Fanning, Chief Capital City Fire/Rescue 820 Glacier Avenue Juneau, Alaska 99801 (907) 586-5322 Position Statement: Suggested an amendment to HB 142 PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 81 SHORT TITLE: PHASE OUT LONGEVITY BONUS BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR TITLE: "An Act relating to the longevity bonus program." JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/22/93 130 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/22/93 130 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 01/22/93 130 (H) -2 FNS (ADM) 1/22/93 01/22/93 130 (H) GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER 02/02/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 02/02/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/06/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 02/13/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 02/13/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/13/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/13/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/13/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/13/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/13/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/13/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/27/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 02/27/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/27/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 03/09/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 03/09/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 03/09/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 03/11/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HCR 1 SHORT TITLE: PRESIDING OFFICER PRO TEMPORE BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) B.DAVIS TITLE: Proposing amendments to the Uniform Rules of the Alaska State Legislature relating to presiding officers pro tempore; and providing for an effective date. JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/11/93 21 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/11/93 21 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY 03/04/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 03/11/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 119 SHORT TITLE: AUTHORIZE USE OF DAY FINES IN MISD. CASES BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) ULMER,B.Davis,Davies,Brown TITLE: "An Act authorizing a sentencing court to impose a sentence of a day fine instead of a sentence of imprisonment on a defendant convicted of a misdemeanor; directing the Alaska Supreme Court to develop and implement a day fine plan; requiring the Department of Corrections to report to the legislature on the use of day fines; amending Alaska Rule of Criminal Procedure 32; and providing for an effective date." JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/03/93 214 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 02/03/93 215 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 03/11/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 142 SHORT TITLE: ENHANCED 911 SYSTEMS BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) ULMER TITLE: "An Act relating to enhanced 911 emergency reporting systems; and providing for an effective date." JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/10/93 291 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 02/10/93 291 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, L&C, FINANCE 03/11/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-28, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIRMAN AL VEZEY called the House State Affairs Committee to order at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 11. All members were present at the call to order. HB 81: PHASE OUT LONGEVITY BONUS Number 019 CHAIRMAN VEZEY read the title of the committee substitute (CSHB 81 (STA)) and called for any discussion. Number 028 REPRESENTATIVE HARLEY OLBERG MOVED for ADOPTION of CSHB 81 (STA). Number 032 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT informed the chair he had an amendment to offer and asked which version the amendment might be considered under. CHAIRMAN VEZEY informed him the amendment would be considered as part of CSHB 81 (STA). Number 050 CSHB 81 (STA) was ADOPTED by the committee by a 5-2 vote, Representatives Vezey, Kott, Olberg, Sanders and G. Davis voted yes; Representatives Ulmer and B. Davis voted no. Number 060 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT INTRODUCED his AMENDMENT to CSHB 81 (STA), which proposed terminating the program in FY 2009, and had the effect of "stepping down" the amount paid under the bonus by $12.50 each year. He stated the costs to the state would fall immediately under his plan and would be about half as much as HB 81's original step-down plan. Number 111 REPRESENTATIVE FRAN ULMER asked for clarification of who would qualify under the amendment, and whether or not a grandfather clause had been included. Number 121 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT explained all seniors over the age of 65 would qualify for the bonus, and no grandfather clause had been built into the amendment. He stated the length of the step-down gave senior Alaskans a better chance to plan their financial future while cutting state costs faster than HB 81. Number 146 CHAIRMAN VEZEY noted the $3 million reduction in the first year after implementation of the amendment, and the progressive step-down until 2009. Number 172 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS asked if it was fiscally wise to step down the program to $50 a month in the final years of the plan, since the administrative costs and the overhead would either remain the same or increase during the same period. Number 192 CHAIRMAN VEZEY stated more checks would be going out for smaller amounts, then asked for more discussion. Number 208 REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS MOVED for ADOPTION of the AMENDMENT to CSHB 81 (STA). Number 221 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT's AMENDMENT to CSHB 81 (STA) FAILED 3-4, with Representatives G. Davis, Kott, and B. Davis voting yes; and Chairman Vezey, Representatives Olberg, Sanders and Ulmer voting no. Number 227 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS MOVED passage of CSHB 81 (STA) from committee. CSHB 81 (STA) PASSED from committee by a 6-1 vote. Representative B. Davis voted no. HCR 1: PRESIDING OFFICER PRO TEMPORE Number 251 CHAIRMAN VEZEY read the title of HCR 1 and invited its sponsor, Representative Bettye Davis, to give her statement. Number 256 REPRESENTATIVE BETTYE DAVIS, PRIME SPONSOR OF HCR 1, noted the resolution did not affect any private citizens, only members of the legislature. She explained HCR 1 was designed to increase the number of leadership positions in the house for two reasons: To aid in training new members of the legislature who might fill leadership positions; and, to help women gain needed experience. She noted 37 other states have Speaker Pro Tems within the structure of their legislatures. Number 287 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked why Representative B. Davis wanted to change the current system. Number 306 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS explained HCR 1 would aid in the efficiency in the House of Representatives, especially when the Speaker was unavailable, and it would also aid in training house leaders. Number 323 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG asked who would preside when the Speaker was absent. Number 325 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS explained that would be one of the duties the Speaker Pro Tem would undertake, as well as other duties the Speaker specified. She explained that under the current system, the Majority Leader usually took over the chair, which left a hole in the house leadership. Number 345 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if the Majority Whip might take over for the Majority Leader in that situation. Number 350 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS explained that usually happened, but it was not effective. Number 362 CHAIRMAN VEZEY noted the Speaker Pro Tem in other states usually took over ceremonial duties from the Speaker, which could lighten the load on the leadership. Number 372 REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS stated she did not create HCR 1 with ceremonial duties in mind, but the Speaker would have it at his or her discretion to assign them. Number 389 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER MOVED passage of HCR 1. Without objections, HCR 1 was MOVED from committee by a unanimous vote. HB 119: AUTHORIZE USE OF DAY FINES IN MISD. CASES Number 405 CHAIRMAN VEZEY read the title of HB 119 and asked its sponsor, Representative Fran Ulmer for her comments. Number 410 REPRESENTATIVE FRAN ULMER, PRIME SPONSOR OF HB 119, explained the motivation of HB 119 was to deal with the increasing caseload in the courts and to alleviate prison overcrowding in Alaska. She explained that under the system convicts would be fined based on their daily salary, no violent criminals would be considered under the program, and judges would have discretion when to employ day fines. Number 467 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS asked what would happen to those with no daily income. Number 469 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER explained that permanent fund checks were always available for fine payments, and in most cases, people had some form of income that could be tracked down. She noted under the statute, the court could also levy fines against future earnings, while retaining the option of either jail time or probation. Number 488 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if the day fines' statute would apply for crimes with mandatory sentencing. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER replied in the negative. Number 495 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if the plan would discriminate, since many richer people would be able to walk free under the plan, while those with no money would not have the option. Number 500 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER deferred the question to the Alaska Court System's representative in attendance. Number 505 CHARLES S. CHRISTENSEN, III, STAFF COUNSEL, ALASKA COURT SYSTEM, explained that the State Supreme Court supported the concept behind HB 119, saying it would give judges more sentencing discretion, which would alleviate prison crowding, and simultaneously bring in more money into the general fund. Number 520 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked the number of misdemeanant days currently being served in Alaska prisons. MR. CHRISTENSEN referred the committee to the Department of Corrections, noting inmates might not serve the entire sentence imposed by the court, since they might earn "good time" while in custody. Number 536 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT reiterated his question about rich people being able to walk away from prison, while poor people would not have the option to pay. MR. CHRISTENSEN explained that under the current system, the highest misdemeanor fine was $5,000. He noted judges tried to treat similar misdemeanants the same, which meant that most of the time, $250 fines were routinely handed out, since most people could afford that. He explained that meant rich people were getting off far easier than they might under the day fine system. Number 563 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked what would happen if other attachments were made to a misdemeanant's permanent fund check. MR. CHRISTENSEN explained a priority list for attaching permanent fund checks for court fines now exists. Number 582 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if a system was already in place to impose day fine penalties. MR. CHRISTENSEN explained a statute passed several years ago which prohibited the imposition of fines on an ability to pay basis, and several laws would have to be modified or repealed. Number 592 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER concurred with Mr. Christensen's assessment, and said a bigger problem was that the maximum fines in Alaska were low, and judges had little discretion in imposing them. Number 598 MR. CHRISTENSEN noted under the day fine system, a schedule to impose fines would be laid out, and the result would be a more equitable treatment of misdemeanants. Number 605 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked if misdemeanants had a right to trial. MR. CHRISTENSEN replied in the affirmative. CHAIRMAN VEZEY then asked for an estimate on the cost of a misdemeanor trial. Number 612 MR. CHRISTENSEN did not have exact figures, but said the cost of an average trial would exceed the average misdemeanor fine of $250. CHAIRMAN VEZEY reminded Mr. Christensen of an old misdemeanor penalty that gave defendants the choice of a $250 fine or five days in jail, which had been struck down. He asked if day fines would encounter a similar fate. Number 631 MR. CHRISTENSEN said it would not, because the judge would have the penalty option, not the defendant. Number 638 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS asked if the fines would cover the costs to the court for instituting the program. MR. CHRISTENSEN said every estimate he had indicated the program would pay for itself. In response to an earlier question by Chairman Vezey, he remembered the cost for a single trial was about $600. Number 653 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS was concerned about poor people dragging out the process and trying to convince the court they were too poor to pay a fine. Number 659 MR. CHRISTENSEN noted about 80% of the misdemeanant cases heard were defended by public advocates, and defendants were required to prove their indigence before those advocates could take their case. Number 675 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked the committee to examine the day fine report enclosed in their packets, which detailed Europe's use of day fines, and how the U.S., in contrast, had imprisoned more people than fining them. She suggested fines would be far more cost effective than building new prisons. Number 693 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS noted several other criminal justice related bills were in committee, and asked if an omnibus bill might be possible. TAPE 93-28, SIDE B Number 000 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER stated HB 119 was the most promising of the group of crime bills, and had the most immediate financial payback to the state. Number 031 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS asked for and received reassurances from Representative Ulmer that day fines would not be an option for sentencing in violent crimes. Number 070 CHAIRMAN VEZEY noted the longtime problems with prison overcrowding and caseloads, and expressed his preliminary support for HB 119. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT, speaking as a member of the Sentencing Commission, agreed with Representative Ulmer that HB 119 seemed to be the most promising bill to come out of the commission, and MOVED passage. Without objections, HB 119 was moved from committee by a unanimous vote. HB 142: ENHANCED 911 SYSTEMS Number 135 CHAIRMAN VEZEY read the title to HB 142 and asked its sponsor, Representative Ulmer, for her statement. REPRESENTATIVE FRAN ULMER, PRIME SPONSOR OF HB 142, explained how 911 systems would be improved through a voluntary community wide phone tariff. She deferred to two Alaska fire fighters to provide the committee with more details about the system. CHAIRMAN VEZEY called for a five minute at ease at 8:55 a.m. Number 165 CHAIRMAN VEZEY called the committee back to order at 9:00 a.m. and began taking public testimony. Number 167 JOHN GEORGE, LOBBYIST, ALASKA STATE FIRE FIGHTERS ASSOCIATION AND ALASKA STATE FIRE CHIEFS ASSOCIATION, explained that both groups supported the concept of HB 142, primarily because it provided a funding mechanism that had been lacking in the past. He also noted how enhanced 911 systems could become potential lifesavers for people incapacitated by either injury, sickness or in a fire. He also noted HB 142 probably needed amending, but did not specify how. Number 204 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked Mr. George if the 50 cents per phone line charge constituted a tariff, and if the association could support such a tariff. Number 206 MR. GEORGE stated he recognized the charges as a tariff and supported it. Number 211 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked if 50 cents per line would be adequate. Number 217 MR. GEORGE explained how all monies collected would be dedicated to the system. He found the figure acceptable. HB 166: ENHANCED 911 SYSTEMS Number 239 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG informed the committee he had heard a similar bill in the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee, HB 166, where the 50 cents figure was projected to raise between $800,000 and $1.2 million, and explained he would like to see the line charge increased. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER was open to amending HB 142. Number 278 LARRY FANNING, CHIEF OF CAPITOL CITY FIRE/RESCUE, testified in favor of increasing the amount to fund more sophisticated 911 reporting equipment. He asserted crews could respond more effectively with such equipment, and suggested an amendment to effect the change. Number 309 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG offered to serve on a subcommittee to investigate the differences and similarities of HB 142 and HB 166. Number 314 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked how many calls were generated in Juneau or in the state annually. MR. FANNING stated Juneau police received about 20,000 calls each year, but the system only provided dispatchers with the number the call came from and not the address, a feature he advocated to save time. Number 355 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked the amount needed to construct such a system. MR. FANNING stated it would cost $2.3 million in equipment alone, with no personnel costs factored in. Number 365 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked committee members if such a tariff constituted a dedicated fund. Number 370 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER explained at length why a fund such as this would be a tariff, but because the legislature would re-appropriate the fund every year, it did not constitute a dedicated fund. Number 417 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if the 50 cent line charge would apply to businesses on every extension they owned. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER explained the charge would apply only to the first 100 lines owned. ADJOURNMENT Number 451 CHAIRMAN VEZEY adjourned the meeting at 9:18 a.m.