Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/22/1994 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 February 22, 1994 8:00 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Al Vezey, Chairman Representative Pete Kott, Vice Chairman Representative Gary Davis Representative Harley Olberg Representative Jerry Sanders Representative Fran Ulmer MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Bettye Davis COMMITTEE CALENDAR *HB 346: "An Act amending the Alaska Election Code and the Alaska Uniform Vehicle Code to conform them to the requirements of the `National Voter Registration Act of 1993,' federal legislation requiring the states to alter their voter registration and election practices as they may relate to elections to federal office and making related amendments; relating to public and confidential records of agencies operating under the Alaska Election Code; and directing appropriate state officials to initiate administrative preclearance review or to seek judicial approval of the amendments made by this Act as required by relevant provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and providing for an effective date." HELD OVER *HCR 27: Relating to support for the National Rifle Association's gun safety program for children. HELD OVER *HB 392: "An Act relating to the confidentiality of permanent fund dividend application information; relating to the permanent fund dividend program; and providing for an effective date." HELD OVER *HB 483: "An Act relating to payment of permanent fund dividends of certain individuals who have been absent from the state; and providing for an effective date." NOT HEARD (* first public hearing) WITNESS REGISTER LAURA GLAISER, Staff Division of Elections Lt. Governor's Office PO Box 110018 Juneau, AK 99811-0018 Phone: 465-3520 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SSHB 346 REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE Alaska State Legislature Alaska State Capitol, Room 112 Juneau, AK 99811 Phone: 465-4843 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HCR 27 OLIVER BURRIS Tanana Valley Sportsmens Association 2801 Talkeetna Fairbanks, AK 99709 Phone: 474-0437 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of HCR 27 DICK BISHOP Alaska Outdoor Council, Statewide Organization of Outdoor User Groups, Advocates of the Proper and Lawful Use of Firearms 1555 Gus's Grind Fairbanks, AK 99709 Phone: 455-6151 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of HCR 27 VERN KEEZER P.O. Box 242 Bethel, AK 99559 Phone: 543-2285 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of HCR 27 RICHARD VITALE, Aide Representative Con Bunde Alaska State Legislature Alaska State Capitol, Room 112 Juneau, AK 99811 Phone: 465-4843 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of HB 392 TOM WILLIAMS, Director Permanent Fund Dividend Division Department of Revenue P.O. Box 110460 Juneau, AK 99811-0460 Phone: 465-2323 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of HB 392 PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 346 SHORT TITLE: VOTER REGISTRATION:CONFORM TO FEDERAL LAW SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) ULMER,B.Davis JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/07/94 2018 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 01/10/94 2018 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/10/94 2018 (H) STATE AFFAIRS,JUDICIARY,FINANCE 01/13/94 2055 (H) COSPONSOR(S): B. DAVIS 02/02/94 2217 (H) SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE INTRODUCED-REFERRALS 02/02/94 2218 (H) STA, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 02/22/94 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HCR 27 SHORT TITLE: SUPPORT NRA GUN SAFETY PROGRAM SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) BUNDE JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/18/94 2096 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/18/94 2096 (H) STATE AFFAIRS 02/22/94 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 392 SHORT TITLE: PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND PROGRAM SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) PARNELL JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/21/94 2125 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/21/94 2125 (H) STATE AFFAIRS,JUDICIARY,FINANCE 02/22/94 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 483 SHORT TITLE: PER. FUND DIVIDENDS OF ABSENT INDIVIDUALS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) KOTT JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/14/94 2378 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 02/14/94 2378 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE 02/22/94 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 94-15, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIR AL VEZEY called the meeting to order at 8:02 a.m.. Members present include REPRESENTATIVES PETE KOTT, HARLEY OLBERG, and FRAN ULMER. Chair Vezey informed the committee he had received a proposed bill regarding a petition to the Congress to amend the Constitution. Chair Vezey opened SSHB 346 for discussion. REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS entered the meeting at 8:03 a.m. A quorum was present. Number 033 HB 346 - VOTER REGISTRATION:CONFORM TO FEDERAL LAW REPRESENTATIVE FRAN ULMER, sponsor of SSHB 346, stated SSHB 346 is Alaska's attempt to conform with the federal motor voter law. Last year, Congress adopted the motor voter law to make it easier for individuals to get registered to vote. Congress gave states until January 1, 1995, to comply with the law; Alaska has not at this time. Legal Services compared Alaska statutes with the federal requirements and drafted SSHB 346 for Representative Ulmer, to bring Alaska into compliance. SSHB 346 requires voter registration to be easier for the public and requires that when an individual gets a motor vehicle registration, it is simultaneously an application to vote. SSHB 346 also requires when an individual changes his/her drivers license address, it automatically changes the voter registration address. When registering to vote by mail, SSHB 346 provides the application does not have to be notarized. SSHB 346 also requires that an individual who does not vote will not be removed from the voter registration list any longer. REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS joined the meeting at 8:05 a.m. Number 075 REPRESENTATIVE HARLEY OLBERG asked what SSHB 346 was trying to accomplish, and why is it necessary to make it easier to vote. Number 080 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER responded in a democracy, one of the public policy goals which supports democracy is the participation of the public in their government. The public should be encouraged to vote by reducing the impediments, such as not being currently registered to vote because an individual moved and forgot to notify the officials of the change, related to voting requirements. Some individuals may not have a high amount of interest in voting and, if voter registration was included in the motor vehicle registration process, it may promote participation and interest. Representative Ulmer stated, as a member of the League of Women Voters, one of their goals is to make it easier to register to vote and to encourage people to participate. CHAIR VEZEY asked if the committee had a copy of the federal motor voter bill. Number 112 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER responded yes, Jack Chenoweth from the Legal Services Division brought a copy. Number 113 CHAIR VEZEY asked how could registering to vote be made easier in Alaska. Number 121 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER answered voter registration would be easier if applications for registration were in more places. For example, in addition to motor vehicle licensing, public assistance offices which serve the disabled, who may not drive, and the armed services may also distribute applications. With an increase in access, Representative Ulmer estimated there would be 10-15 percent more people registered to vote. Number 144 CHAIR VEZEY asked if the state of Alaska already mails a voter registration application to every resident of the state every year. Number 147 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER replied the committee would have to ask the Division of Elections for an answer to that question. CHAIR VEZEY believed it would be good to know if the state already mailed the applications every year, before the law is changed. Number 150 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER stated the purpose of SSHB 346 is to comply with federal law. Federal law requires every state by January 1, 1995, to comply with the motor voter registration requirements. Alaska's statutes do not comply. She believed the requirements were reasonable and, in terms of extending access, they would be a "good public policy step" for Alaska to make. Number 160 CHAIR VEZEY felt SSHB 346 was reasonable, in light of the fiscal note. Number 165 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG asked what the consequences of not complying with the federal requirements would be. Number 166 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER recollected the federal motor voter sets a compliance date, January 1, 1995, "without a big hammer over our heads." She believed the compliance date was set in the hope the states would "see the wisdom in making it easier for people to vote." Number 175 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT questioned whether or not the committee wanted the drafting attorney to give a sectional analysis of SSHB 346. He would like to have one. Number 178 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER replied there is a sectional analysis and the drafting attorney could go over it with the committee. Number 180 CHAIR VEZEY believed the committee had been asking questions about the philosophy of SSHB 346. He believed the fiscal note from Health and Social Services did not reflect much more than the cost of printed materials. The department estimates 10 minutes per client for each processing agent. Number 194 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER stated she would appreciate it if Jack Chenoweth, could speak about the issue of access and if SSHB 346 would expand the number of people who could get registered in Alaska. Number 200 CHAIR VEZEY said he would like the committee to bring out their questions first and then perhaps the witnesses could answer them. Number 204 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG asked how the $10 fee to register a vehicle in person applies to registering to vote at the same time. CHAIR VEZEY replied the fee could be interpreted as a head tax or poll tax. He was not sure. Number 211 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT responded to Representative Olberg, " I hope we've taken care of that problem," referring to the $10 fee. CHAIR VEZEY examined another fiscal note from Health and Social Services (H&SS) for $155,000 which is based on the personal services of .32 of a full-time equivalent at Clerk Typist III (FTE), from 7.35 equivalent of FTE's. (Reference page 2, paragraph 2, of H&SS Institutions and Administration fiscal note, on file.) He examined the fiscal note from H&SS Women, Infants & Children Division, which ranges about $10,000 for 1995, then $21,000 in 1996. He stated the committee does not have a fiscal note from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), but does have a zero fiscal note from the Department of Corrections. The Office of the Governor, Division of Elections, has a $90,000 fiscal note. Chair Vezey felt it would "be impossible to have any state laws where it's easier to register than the state of Alaska." Two citizens of the state can register another voter in Alaska. A noncommissioned officer of the armed forces can register a voter in Alaska. He believes Alaskan residents are not purged from registration polls unless they have not voted for three years of elections cycles. Number 258 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER responded under the federal motor voter bill, it is required that the state not purge individuals for not voting. Representative Ulmer agreed there are a number of ways to vote, but particularly in rural Alaska, there is a fairly large percentage who are not registered to vote. Number 262 CHAIR VEZEY stated these individuals do apply for permanent fund dividends (PFD), and when they receive the PFD application, a voter registration application is included. Number 264 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER responded if voter registration was in more places, where individuals come in to get services, it will make it easier for people to register simultaneously with other processes. She believed this would help achieve her public policy goal. Number 274 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS asked if any figures had been calculated to estimate how many people SSHB 346 might entice to register, and if it focused towards the cost of registering an individual. Number 279 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER was not sure, but she guessed the Division of Elections had not broken down the cost on a per person voter basis versus the current cost. She offered to let the Division of Elections explain in more detail. Number 287 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG stated he would also like to have the sectional analysis examined. He quoted from page one of the H&SS, Women, Infants & Children fiscal note," DPH (Department of Public Health) and grantee staff must also assist applicants who request help in completing the voter registration forms and mail in the completed forms for individuals who do not wish to mail them themselves. Under federal law, public health applicants must be requested to agree to decline in writing to register to vote, and written declinations must be retained in state records." He then asked if state employees are supposed to suggest party affiliation to individuals. Number 305 CHAIR VEZEY replied, under present law, party affiliation is an optional category of information. He had not checked to see if SSHB 346 would change this provision. Number 307 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER clarified there is a provision which prohibits a registration official or assistant from seeking to influence a voter registration applicant's political preference regarding political party. Assistants would be instructed not to interfere with an applicant's party selection. Number 313 CHAIR VEZEY received a fiscal note from the Department of Public Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles. He commented to the committee that Jack Chenoweth, Legal Services Division, was available to testify although he had not signed the witness register. Number 334 JACK CHENOWETH, SSHB 346 DRAFTING ATTORNEY, LEGAL SERVICES DIVISION, introduced himself. Number 339 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG clarified that Mr. Chenoweth was speaking about SSHB 346. CHAIR VEZEY was not aware of a sponsor substitute. Number 348 MR. CHENOWETH stated HB 346 and SSHB 346 are "identical except for a definition supplied to (indiscernible) of public assistance that narrows the programs that must comply." Number 350 CHAIR VEZEY stated he did not have a copy of SSHB 346 in his packet. Number 352 MR. CHENOWETH stated SSHB 346 is proposed, because years ago Congress decided it ought to have a larger role in overseeing federal elections. The Motor Voter Act specifically states that the provisions, required of states, are required because of federal elections. He believed the changes being proposed in law to comply with the Motor Voter Act should not result in a "dual registration system - one for federal office and one for everything else.." The changes proposed in SSHB 346 would be "across the board," although the requirements of the Motor Voter Act are "imposed upon the conduct, by the state, of its federal elections." Only four sections of the Motor Voter Act are pertinent to the changes proposed in SSHB 346. The requirements relating to voter registration has to be made simultaneously with the motor vehicle driver's license. MR. CHENOWETH sensed the Department of Public Safety's current process of forwarding the registration applications to the Division of Elections was not sufficient. The language of the Motor Voter Act states,"each state motor vehicle driver's license application, including any renewal application submitted to the appropriate state motor vehicle authority under state law, shall serve as an application for voter registration unless the applicant fails to sign the voter registration application." In summary, there will be a one or two page form requiring all the information normally given as part of a motor vehicle registration form combined with specific voter registration information, determining district area, etc. SSHB 346 makes this form change. If an individual changes his/her address at the DMV, it will correspondingly change his/her election registration address, unless the individual chooses not to do so. The National Voter Registration Act requires voter registration applications by mail, of which Alaska does extensively. SSHB 346 changes will conform state law to organize the content of the mail-in form to federal requirements. Public assistance agencies were also recognized, under the federal Motor Voter Act, as agents for voter registration. SSHB 346 addresses programs which deal with Medicaid, AFDC, food stamps, and the Women, Infants & Children program as the agents for voter registration. These programs are primarily within H&SS, as public assistance, and will receive and process application materials. There are also federal requirements which require the state to try to contact an individual before his/her registration is purged. Getting no response or an incomplete response from the individual is the only legitimate way to purge individuals registrations from the master registration role. An inactive registration status is no longer accepted federally. MR. CHENOWETH believed the Lieutenant Governor's Office or the Governor has submitted a bill comparable to SSHB 346. HB 346 was drafted in the fall of 1993, based upon Mr. Chenoweth's review of the National Voter Registration Act. He agreed with Chair Vezey that Alaska does have an open registration system; however, the federal government has required that four areas be addressed. He stated SSHB 346 was drafted in response to these four areas. (REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS left the meeting at 8:25 a.m.) CHAIR VEZEY clarified the scope of SSHB 346 is federal elections. Number 452 MR. CHENOWETH said yes, the federal government requires the National Voter Registration Act apply to elections to federal office. Rather than maintain a dual system, one at state level for legislative and gubernatorial elections and one for federal elections, a blended system will cease registration requirement misconceptions between the two elections. Number 462 CHAIR VEZEY asked Representative Olberg if an examination of the sectional analysis was still necessary. REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG said it was not necessary. Number 468 Hearing no objection, CHAIR VEZEY decided not to examine the sectional analysis. Number 469 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked what the consequences would be if Alaska did not comply with the Federal Motor Voter Act. Could someone challenge the validity of the vote in a federal election. Number 476 MR. CHENOWETH replied there would likely be a challenge to the vote. By the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Alaska must submit any changes in elections through the Department of Justice for approval. Certain citizens may try to take Alaska to court for not being in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act. He believed the state may lose, and there would be a federal court order telling the state to comply. A comparable bill to HB 346 would then have to be passed by a future legislature due to a court order. Number 489 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT inquired if there are any states already implementing similar policies to those covered in SSHB 346, or have they not had the opportunity. Number 491 MR. CHENOWETH suspected most states are dealing with these changes in 1994. North Dakota, was exempted, because it does not have voter registration. By federal law, a citizen of North Dakota can walk in, show citizenship of that state, and vote without proof of registration. Other states have a system whereby an individual can register to vote and caste a vote simultaneously, which exempts them from the federal law requirements. Approximately 45 states are currently involved in the same initiating process as Alaska. A 1996 election year set date is allowed federally, for those states which have state Constitutional amendments to send to the ballot. Alaska should have its statutes changed by January 1, 1995. Number 510 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if there were any exemptions or possibly a waiver which could apply to Alaska because of the permanent fund dividend and voter registration mailing process. Number 513 MR. CHENOWETH replied he had not seen any kind of waiver in the federal act which would apply to Alaska. He felt the Division of Elections may be better able to find an exemption or waiver. Number 523 CHAIR VEZEY introduced LAURA GLAISER as the next to testify. Number 529 LAURA GLAISER, STAFF PERSON, DIVISION OF ELECTIONS, offered suggestions to SSHB 346. She said the policies stated by Mr. Chenoweth are all in compliance with SB 303, drafted by her office. Representatives from the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice (DOJ) worked with her to draft a bill which arrived at the Department of Law in September or October, and was submitted as SB 303. She said, in drafting the bill, waivers and exemptions were not seen. When the permanent fund dividend application process was illustrated to representatives from the DOJ, they could only reply "we won't tell you what you can do to be in compliance, we'll just sue you when you aren't." Ms. Glaiser stated the DOJ will not review a state's bills first to see if they are even near compliance. The DOJ is going to wait until Alaska is challenged and then force the state to make the changes. SB 303 is an attempt to make the most minimum changes to Alaska's laws. She asked if (they) cared if SB 303 affected voter turnout, believing registering additional people will not help, if they do not go to the polls to vote. The Federal Election Commission told Ms. Glaiser they were not concerned with voter turnout. She noted she had been working with Representative Ulmer on HB 346 and pointed out there had been changes to suit their concerns in SSHB 346. MS. GLAISER was concerned about Section 5 of SSHB 346, requiring witnessing of a by-mail voter registration application, because Section 93 of the Federal Act states that no requirement can be made for notarization or other formally authentication may be included. SB 303 has removed witnessing from all of the forms. She relayed that other states are similarly blending these changes into their state laws, even though the federal act primarily relates to federal elections. To set up a separate program for only federal elections would be nearly impossible to do. (REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS returned to the meeting at 8:38 a.m.) Number 569 CHAIR VEZEY asked if SB 303 passed, the state would no longer allow two persons to witness a voter registration, and make it harder to register to vote. Number 572 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG clarified SB 303 requires no witnesses to register to vote, the "Chicago provision." Number 574 CHAIR VEZEY responded any person could fill out a form, sign it, and they are registered. Number 575 MS. GLAISER explained the provision related to by-mail voter registration and by-mail voting. She saw a conflict between requiring those who apply in person to be witnessed and not requiring witnessing from those who apply by mail. Number 581 CHAIR VEZEY believed the current mail-in form requires the signature of two citizens of the state of Alaska. Number 582 MS. GLAISER replied yes. Number 584 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER clarified signatures are required at present, and also in SSHB 346. She pointed out SSHB 346 has eliminated the requirement of a notary. She felt the requirement to notarize was the provision in conflict with federal law, and asked Ms. Glaiser if it was her understanding that the interpretation is that the federal law requires no witnessing requirements for registration by mail. Number 590 CHAIR VEZEY was not aware of anywhere in voter registration or voting where a notary signature is required. Number 592 MS. GLAISER stated a notary is required by existing law. Number 596 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER referenced page 3, Section 5, of the existing law AS 15.07.070(b), regarding the notary public. SSHB 346 would remove this. Page 3, line 17-22, of the existing law can be read with regard to what notarization is required. Number 600 MS. GLAISER noted the exact language of the law had been, and is suggested to be removed in SSHB 346 as well as SB 303. "The form shall be executed before notary public, a commissioned officer of the armed forces including the national guard, a district judge or magistrate, a United States Postal Official, or other person qualified to administer oath. If none of the officials listed in this subsection is reasonably accessible, the person shall have the form witnessed by two persons over the age of 18 years." CHAIR VEZEY clarified a notary is a public official who can register an individual to vote. MS. GLAISER said yes. Number 607 CHAIR VEZEY asked why the notary requirement should be taken out; thereby, narrowing the number of public officials who can register individuals to vote Number 609 MS. GLAISER responded with the federal mandate, it is believed the removal of all the stipulations will make it easier for a person to vote. When the Federal Elections Commission was asked whether witnessing was formal authentication, they replied yes. Number 613 CHAIR VEZEY commented the federal government seemed to be advocating the election process be opened up to election fraud. The current form at least gives some independent verification that the information is true. He gave an example of fraud, which used to take place years ago in Chicago, where names from the cemetery were used to register voters. He felt the results of SSHB 346 would be ludicrous. Number 618 MS. GLAISER shared Chair Vezey's concerns. She stated when she met with the federal government, it was very frustrating to her because their legislators who worked on this Act were not present at any of the meetings. She could not find any other response for Alaska to get into compliance. Number 627 CHAIR VEZEY felt opening up the elections and inviting voter fraud would not be a "feather in the cap of democracy." Voter fraud has been a serious problem in the United States. He stated the legality of John F. Kennedy's presidential election as an example. MS. GLAISER replied she has read extensively on voter fraud; however, Alaska must work within the federal mandate. The federal government argued is "it is just as easy to have two fraudulent witnesses as it is to commit fraud on your own." Individuals do still have to sign a disclaimer that the information given is true, and it is a misdemeanor if it is falsified. Number 639 CHAIR VEZEY commented an individual could, in the meantime, vote ten times under false names. Number 640 MS. GLAISER replied only once. Number 642 CHAIR VEZEY stated people can be very clever and there are records of dead people voting in the United States. Number 644 MS. GLAISER believed Chair Vezey's concerns had been voiced in Congress and "this is what's resulted." Number 646 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG stated at the Oil Spill Trustees meeting, there is never a written legal opinion when they discuss a proposal. Something is proposed, passed on to the Justice Department, and the Justice Department says they do not like it. When the Oil Spill Trustees ask the DOJ if they want to put their disagreement in writing, they reply, "no we would not." If the DOJ did submit a written disagreement, Representative Olberg stated, the court would probably find the statement illegal. He felt Ms. Glaiser may have had a similar type of conversation with the DOJ. Number 655 CHAIR VEZEY said if this scenario troubled Representative Olberg, he should note there has been about a 25 percent increase in the number of federal attorneys within the last year or two. Number 658 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT felt the objective of the federal mandate is to get people registered, even if they do not want to respond and vote. He could not understand why the federal mandate was introduced as it is. Representative Kott expressed concern over the purging of records, and wondered if the records would swell tremendously. What would the Division of Elections do to minimize the overload and keep track of those moving around and out of the state. MS. GLAISER replied she had similar concerns. Alaska is fortunate to have a computerized voting system, other states are in a much worse position in trying to adapt. The Division of Elections has a computerized registration list, which will be the master copy to suit the federal mandate. The district printouts will be in order because Alaska has questioned and absentee ballots, a form of "fail safe voting" in federal terms. The concern of the federal mandate is federal elections. No one in Alaska will have their rights abridged by the current process of purging individuals from the voting system. The lack of voting cannot be the only reason a person is purged, a notice must be sent. TAPE 94-18, SIDE B Number 000 MS. GLAISER said the voters will have the opportunity to vote honestly and fairly with the questioned ballot system. If a person votes on a questioned ballot, he/she will automatically be put back on the master list. Signing a petition, after not voting for two-four years, will automatically move a person back on to the precinct and district lists. The federal mandate has helped the Division of Elections open up the voting system and make it better and more accessible to Alaskans. Number 015 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT clarified the lists will be clear and expressed his current lists have three or four families assigned to the same household. Because the current problem may compound by two-fold, Representative Kott felt the lists would not be very clear. Number 033 MS. GLAISER responded the Division of Elections is doing the best they can to work with the voter registration cards. It is the person's responsibility to keep the cards clear and the Division makes the changes as soon as they are available. The simultaneous registration through motor vehicles, provided by the motor voter law, will enhance the records. Number 049 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG asked if every seasonal employee who comes to Alaska and accesses any of these services is going to be or may be registered to vote. Number 058 MS. GLAISER answered as long they meet the requirements for voter registration, they will be registered. Individuals who are trying to receive permanent fund dividends are already registering to vote and will probably continue to do so. SSHB 346 and SB 303 do not include provisions to block this kind of registration. The Division of Elections is open to suggestions. Number 073 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked for the other two suggestions Ms. Glasier had mentioned, as the committee had only heard one. Number 077 LAURA GLAISER stated Section 10 of SSHB 346, considers those people working within state agencies, which have been declared voter registration agencies, to be considered registrars. Therefore, requiring training and possible testing and evaluation by the Division of Elections. She stated, in the research she has done with the Division of Elections, in SB 303 the affected state agencies would be considered voter registration agencies, but not registrars. This is to give the agencies the freedom to perform their registration tasks, without requiring the testing, evaluation, and the record keeping by the Division of Elections. As registrars, she said, they would just add to the bureaucracy, and the testing and evaluation by the Division of Elections will require a full-time employee to manage it. MS. GLAISER mentioned her concern with state agencies assisting people in the voter registration application. She suggested the use of a sheet that state agencies could hand out which gives a written description of the different parties. Each party could write a 50-word or less description in their own words. This would avoid putting the state employee in an awkward position when a person asks a compromising question. MS. GLAISER noted SSHB 346 fails to designate a chief election official and Section 10 of the National Voter Registration Act requires each state to designate a state officer to be responsible for the coordination of this Act. SB 303 names the director of the Division of Elections to do this. Number 139 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER returned to the registrars issue in Section 10 of Federal Motor Voter Act. If the employee assisting registration is not considered a registrar, but should have some training, how important is it to designate that employee as somebody else. She wanted to clarify if Ms. Glaiser meant only one employee in the agency or more, and if they would be properly trained. Number 154 MS. GLAISER replied there would be a training seminar for those employees within the agencies that would be providing the voter assistance. If a trained employee left his/her position, the responsibility would exist to train the incumbent employee or have a yearly refresher training seminar. The training for registrars currently takes about 15-20 minutes. Not naming the separate agencies as registrars will prevent them from having to be tested and evaluated. Number 173 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if the agency employees should be specially designated as voting assistants, so they do get the training and are different from other employees without the training. The additional step up to registrar would not be required. Number 176 MS. GLAISER answered SB 303 did not name the employees specifically. Through regulation, policy and procedure between the agencies, they were going to be accepted as those people who will be assisting filling out the forms. She did not have a problem with naming them voting assistants and then define it in SSHB 346. Her objective was to avoid the added bureaucracy, cost, and record keeping to the state. Number 189 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if registrars had to keep track of how many people they register and send it in. Number 191 MS. GLAISER responded the registrars system is kept separately in a computer file. They are tested, can be evaluated, are responsible to the director, and they are appointed at the director's will. She noted this provision is an agreement between the agency and the Division of Elections to come into compliance with the federal act. The agencies do not serve at the pleasure of the director, so as not to come into conflict with certain agency rules. Number 217 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT clarified that this is an unfunded mandate from the federal government and there are no grant monies available. MS. GLAISER answered Representative Kott was correct. Number 227 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT wondered what the percentage of unregistered individuals in Alaska might be. Number 231 MS. GLAISER replied she was not sure, but she guessed 67 percent were not registered. At the last general election, 82.9 percent of voters turned out to vote. She noted this percentage of voting individuals was relayed to the Federal Election Commission. The participation and voter registration drives in Alaska are phenomenal, she thought. Number 242 CHAIR VEZEY believed there are approximately 340,000 registered voters and a significantly high percentage of voter registration in Alaska. Number 252 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked Ms. Glaiser if 82.9 percent applied to registered voters. MS. GLAISER said Representative Kott was correct. The Division of Elections is researching how much it would cost to increase voter registration and at what percentage it would increase. They do not know now. She explained that if 85 percent are reached through motor vehicle registration, every household is reached with permanent fund dividend applications, and others reached through H&SS, the registration process will overlap. The Division of Elections would like to do the most at the least expense. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT commented the cliental which will now be registered generally do not vote. He noticed the conflict in the objective to get people registered, but not to ensure they actually vote. He felt the objective should be the latter. Representative Kott asked what the status of SB 303 was. MS. GLAISER answered SB 303 was in Senate State Affairs Committee and will be heard next week. Number 283 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG inquired if there were any statistics as to how many people actually registered with the application included with the permanent fund dividend (PFD) application. MS. GLAISER replied the first year, there were a great deal of errors with individuals filling out the form incomplete. The form serves as a notification of a change of address, more so than increasing voter registration. There is a low percentage which affect increasing voter registration. Number 297 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG commented the state pays people a dividend to register to vote and asked what more incentive must there be. An individual acquires an address, driver's license, and a voter registration when they first come to Alaska to establish a residency date to get a dividend. He noted Alaska is the only state which pays $900 a year to register to vote and asked Ms. Glasier if that had been suggested as a possible exemption. MS. GLAISER affirmed Representative Olberg, and replied the attorney she has dealt with has worked with Alaska on reapportionment issues and he was very familiar with the unique features Alaska has to offer. She said the attorneys, with their knowledge, still could not answer or confirm Alaska would be exempt with the PFD application. She has been in several meetings to discuss challenging solely on the basis of the PFD application, and no one felt secure the state would win in court. Having the court decide something much worse for the state was more of a concern. REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS reiterated other states were given waivers and wanted to know why they were. Number 324 MS. GLAISER responded North Dakota was exempted because they have no voter registration at all, and the other possibility was if an individual could register simultaneously at the poll when going to cast a vote. Congress' intent was to make in as simple as possible. REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS asked if both of those exemptions were used in North Dakota. CHAIR VEZEY clarified there were two states. REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS understood. REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG suggested the committee should consider the options that Ms. Glaiser mentioned as exemptions. At least an individual would have to physically be there to vote. Number 348 MS. GLAISER responded Alaska cannot go back and change our current laws, it would have had to be in place when the president signed the Federal Motor Voter Law. Number 355 Hearing no more testimony, CHAIR VEZEY held SSHB 346 in committee for further review. He called for a recess at 9:06 a.m. and noted HB 483 would be postponed by sponsor request. HCR 27 - SUPPORT NRA GUN SAFETY PROGRAM Number 374 CHAIR VEZEY called the meeting back to order at 9:12 a.m. and opened HCR 27 for discussion. Number 379 REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE, HCR 27 SPONSOR, gave an overview of the bill. HCR 27 is an attempt to encourage school children in Alaska to learn to protect themselves from gun accidents. HCR 27 is not an advocacy program for gun ownership, it simply informs children on how to protect themselves. Similar to what children once learned about fire safety, stop-drop-and roll, the gun safety training program for kindergarten through sixth grade will teach them if there is a firearm present to leave the area and tell an adult. This program also applies to children who come across poorly stored firearms in the home. Representative Bunde realized the fact that since the NRA is sponsoring HCR 27, it might make some individuals nervous; however, he repeated, it does not advocate the possession or use of weapons. He commented that 560 children between the ages 10-14 died from firearm injuries. One out of eight deaths in children is due to firearm injuries. High schools have an increasing rate of violence and teaching children at a young age to stay away from them would be beneficial. Representative Bunde has owned firearms since he was twelve and his father taught him safety and responsibility. Children, these days, are not raised around firearms as much as they were in the past, and now have a greater chance of seeing one for the first time at the neighbors or in a backpack at school. Firearm accidents are preventable and the Eddie Eagle Program would give children "thrust" to be able to protect themselves and tell an adult in a firearm situation. (REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG reentered from the recess at 9:15 a.m.) Number 449 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS commented page 2, line 12, states, "whereas teachers and police departments in 42 states have already implemented a gun safety program for some elementary schools." He then asked if this was taken from one of his sources of information, as he imagined some teachers in every state teach gun safety. Number 457 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE responded the information in HCR 27 was information he received from the Eddie Eagle Program. These programs are formally recognized, as opposed to a section in a health safety class. He believed the Mat-Su area was the only area in Alaska with 27 schools teaching a firearms safety program. He was "grim" to say Anchorage schools do not have these programs and seem to be "in no great hurry to establish a program." Representative Bunde was informed by a parent there had been three firearm incidents in two schools in south Anchorage, and they are not being reported to the press or police. Apparently the school system wanted to reduce panic or deal with the problem themselves. He stated "on very good authority...in a related area, teachers were told to quit bringing complaints, no more kids were going to be suspended because it was making the school system look bad." Suspension has been a punishment for bringing firearms on campus. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER did not mind endorsing gun safety, but she would like to see a video of the specific program before she endorsed it. Without more information on the Eddie Eagle Program, she would be more inclined to support general gun safety programs. Number 488 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE replied he did have a video tape, posters, and coloring books. The tape had been given to someone, but he could get another. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER encouraged the committee to watch the video tape before adopting the program. She noted a title may be misconceiving about the contents of the tape. Number 496 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if the video tape was the same as the one he had seen involving the police and the woman dialing 911. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE answered no, the Eddie Eagle video tape was aimed at young children being a cartoon with an eagle flying around and commenting. Number 501 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said the tape he had seen, published by the NRA, begins with a two minute discussion of an incident, then blends into the Eddie Eagle portion. This tape had a four-five minute clip on the gun safety program and he wondered if it was the same tape. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE replied the materials he has are what is available for use in the classrooms and Representative Kott may have the promotional tape about the program. Number 509 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT questioned page two, line 13, if it was referring to the actual Eddie Eagle Program or various gun safety programs. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE answered the Eddie Eagle Program. Number 514 CHAIR VEZEY said his packet did not include any information about the narrative of the Eddie Eagle Program. He wanted to know if he was missing it. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE had not handed it out on the assumption the committee already knew what the program was about. Number 518 CHAIR VEZEY replied he had not known about it, but was certain it was a good program. House State Affairs Committee is the only committee of referral and he would let the committee decide. Number 522 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE would like the committee to review the tape before passing HCR 27 out of committee. The tape is already on order and it should be available soon. Hearing no objection from the committee to wait and see tape CHAIR VEZEY agreed. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said the content of the tape had been well discussed. The theme of the program tells children to tell an adult if they see a gun. Number 533 CHAIR VEZEY moved to the Fairbanks teleconference site. OLIVER BURRIS, TANANA VALLEY SPORTSMENS ASSOCIATION, testified in favor of HCR 27. He has been a hunter safety instructor for 31 years in Alaska and a NRA firearms instructor for 22 years. Alaska has one of the highest death and accident rates in the United States. Forty states have mandatory hunter safety training programs, a result of which has been a steady decline in hunting accidents throughout the nation. In 1992, only 146 people were killed by hunting accidents. More than ten times that number were killed in bicycle accidents. Juvenile hunting fatalities have dropped due to hunter safety training which the NRA started 40 years ago. The Eddie Eagle program "is not experimental and not research." The amount of firearms will not reduce, but the number of juvenile accidents can. Number 567 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if Mr. Burris said 44 states have a mandatory hunter safety program. MR. BURRIS clarified, only 40 states. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if the programs were for an adult hunter safety requirement. MR. BURRIS replied there is variation between states on whether one has to be an adult or a juvenile to take the program. Number 574 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if the programs were a requirement to acquire a hunting license for those states. What was their process? Number 576 MR. BURRIS answered, in some states the program is a requirement for a hunting license, and even if a license is not required, a juvenile must take the program before going hunting. States vary between everyone having the program and new hunters or juveniles only. Number 584 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if Mr. Burris felt this would be a good idea for Alaska. MR. BURRIS responded it was another issue, but he was in favor of it. Number 586 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER questioned if any of the schools in his community are currently using the program or if they have had experience with it. Number 588 MR. BURRIS replied some of the schools teachers have used the program on an individual basis. There has not been an adoption of the program by any school he knows of. Number 591 DICK BISHOP, ALASKA OUTDOOR COUNCIL, STATEWIDE ORGANIZATION OF OUTDOOR USER GROUPS, ADVOCATES OF THE PROPER USE AND LAWFUL USE OF FIREARMS, testified in support of HCR 27. He said, HCR 27 will help educate children about safety in relation to firearms. The program is important in terms of preventing accidents among young people. The Eddie Eagle program is a successful program and he appreciated Representative Bunde for introducing it. Alaska should take an active role in reducing the amount of firearm accidents. Number 608 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER questioned whether the program had been used very much in Mr. Bishop's community. If he knew of a teacher who had experience with the program in his/her classroom, she would like to talk to them to find out how it was used, the children's reactions to it, and if it made a difference. Number 615 MR. BISHOP said he would contact Representative Ulmer if he found a teacher in his community. If not, he would look in other areas. There have been various attempts to adopt firearms education programs, but they have not received widespread integration into the school curriculums. Number 625 CHAIR VEZEY moved to the Bethel teleconference site. Number 626 VERN KEEZER testified in favor of HCR 27 and agreed with Mr. Burris and Mr. Bishop. He felt the Eddie Eagle program would be appropriate for older students, as well as elementary. For those in the hunting age of 10-18, hunter safety training should be available to them at the same time. Number 634 Hearing no more testimony, CHAIR VEZEY held HCR 27 in committee for further review. HB 392 was opened for discussion. He stated Representative Sean Parnell is chairing a House Finance Subcommittee meeting and could not come to testify; however, RICHARD VITALE would take his place. CHAIR VEZEY explained HB 392 is a technical bill which adopts into statute many of the current regulations, regarding the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, and clarifies issues that Mr. Vitale will highlight in his overview. HB 392 - PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND PROGRAM Number 654 RICHARD VITALE gave an overview of HB 392. HB 392 addresses three subjects. First, many of the regulations will being adopted into statute to simplify things that have already been proven to work. As regulations it is easier for them to change, but as statutes there will not be a lot of changes without the scrutiny of the legislature. This is at the request of Representative Parnell and the Permanent Fund Dividend Division. Second, HB 392 will close loopholes and try to bring back some of the statutes and regulations to the original intent of the PFD legislation. Legal challenges over the past couple years have created loopholes. Third, and the most pressing, HB 392 will address a court decision of late, which disallowed the piggyback rule, which states a person out of the state with a spouse on an allowable absence, also gets that allowable absence. The court just ruled the spouse that is accompanying the person does not get the allowable absence, therefore, does not get their PFD. The last two years are now disallowed for approximately 1,600 people. HB 392 would retroactively put these people back in, as well as, fix the problem for the future. Number 675 TOM WILLIAMS, DIRECTOR, PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, joined MR. VITALE at the table to testify. He felt Mr. Vitale's summary of HB 392 was accurate. A vast majority of HB 392 makes technical corrections, appropriately moves items into statute that are currently in regulation. He offered to examine the sectional summary with the committee. Section 1, for technical purposes, updates a reference to correspond to the amendments made in Section 12. Number 687 CHAIR VEZEY clarified that paragraph B3 would be changed to B4. MR. WILLIAMS answered that Chair Vezey was correct. In Section 2 the primary emphasis was to redefine allowable absences as eligibility criteria, instead of elements of residency, as current statutes do. Section 2 also eliminates the multiple references to individual. He stated individuals, who have lived in Alaska for several years, take offense when the PFD Division says they are not out on an allowable absence, therefore, not a resident for PFD purposes. TAPE 94-16, SIDE A Number 000 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if a person were to marry a nonresident outside or inside the state would the nonresident spouse be eligible for the piggyback rule. Number 008 MR. WILLIAMS answered no, the current PFD statutes state an individual is a state resident, if they are physically present in the state or on one of the defined allowable absences. Two years ago in SB 327, there was a clarification made that the definition of residency should correspond to the definition already contained in Title 1, the general state definition of residency. By moving the allowable absence out of the definition of residency for PFD purposes, has no effect on the linkage to the true definition of the state resident. CHAIR VEZEY clarified to Representative Ulmer, Section 2 eliminates six repetitions of the word "individual," clarifies an individual has to be a resident on the date of application, it does not define what a resident is. The only addition is that it clarifies that a person is eligible for a dividend if he/she is not present in the state for one of the reasons which is considered to be an allowable absence. Number 039 MR. WILLIAMS continued examining the sectional analysis. Section 3 closes a loophole for children born out of state to nonresidents, and exempts children from the current six month predeparture residency requirement that would be enacted in Section 5. When SB 327 was enacted, there was an amendment that allowed an individual or child of an eligible resident on allowable absence to qualify for a dividend, even though the child had not been physically present in the state. Prior to that time, a child born out of state had to return back to the state to receive a PFD. When the amendment to SB 327 was adopted two years ago, a loophole in the wording of it existed. For example, a nonresident couple lives out of state, he moves to Alaska and establishes residency, she remains out of state and has a baby, he then claims the child as an eligible dependent and claims a PFD for that child. This example is not what the original legislation was intended to do. HB 392 would make sure the child would have to be an allowable absence. HB 392 would not interfere with the original intent of the changes made in SB 327. Section 4 addresses the issue of what happens with a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS). AS 43.23.005(d) makes an individual who was incarcerated for a felony conviction ineligible for a dividend. It has been questioned if an individual was granted an SIS and if the terms were completed, whether or not a true conviction exists. Section 4 clarifies even with an SIS, the individual would also lose eligibility for a dividend and the conviction would not be overturned. Section 5 places in statute all absences currently allowable by statute and regulation. Section 5 eliminates the Department of Revenue's (DOR) discretion to add allowable absences. Section 5 also moves into statute, the six month predeparture regulatory requirement for absences exceeding 180 days during the qualifying year. The language in the allowable absence list has minor technical changes and is consistent with current laws by recommendation of Legislative Legal staff. Section 6 ensures an applicant must sign their application and adds the requirement for verification into statute. Having verification from two witnesses reduces the chances for fraud. Section 7, similar to Section 4, basically will keep penalties intact, even with an SIS, for trying to defraud the program. Section 8 allows duplicate payments of dividends to be assessed without a time limit. In SB 327, there were changes made in the statute of limitations to identify erroneous dividend payments, whereby the 10 year period was reduced to 3 years. He stated the DOR wanted the ability to retrieve erroneous payments regardless of the time elapsed. Section 9 allows the DOR to withhold payments if an applicant has an unpaid assessment pending. The DOR will withhold payment until there is a resolution of the prior year assessment, but the DOR is limited to take timely action. Section 10 makes the DOR's current authority to establish deadlines explicit. Section 11 clarifies language to correspond to the original intent as administered from the beginning of the program. Section 12 gives the PFD program priority in recovering erroneous payments before all other levies, executions, garnishments, and attachments. The IRS or Child Support authorities, for example, would not be able to confiscate the dividend before PFD officials, if a dividend was accidentally paid to an ineligible person. Section 13 corrects a grammatical error. Section 14 adds language to make it clear that the intent of the statute cannot be circumvented by having a judgment assigned to a court, only to be distributed to a private party, by the court, on the assigner's behalf. The court system challenged a provision within SB 327, whereby the dividend could only be assigned to a government agency. This change would clarify the intent of the statute. Section 15 places into statute most of the current confidentiality regulations. The DOR would like clarification as to what can and cannot be disclosed from the dividend file, since it is one of the largest single sources of data in Alaska. An individual's privacy is a concern. Section 16 deletes the references to absences and the definition of state resident, this is in concert with Section 2. Absences are redefined as eligibility criteria in Section 3, and the specific absences are listed in Section 5. Section 16 clarifies that while absent, an individual must maintain at all times, an intent to return to remain permanently in order to retain residency. Section 16 is also renumbered as appropriate. Section 17 reaffirms 1992 and 1993 eligibility of individuals accompanying their eligible resident spouse. Superior Court Judge Dana Fabe's December 16, 1993, decision invalidated the "piggyback" provision of 15 AAC 23.163 (c)(15) effective January 1, 1992. This will affect approximately 1,600. Sections 18, 19, and 20 relate to the effective dates. (Sectional analysis available on file.) Number 286 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER understood Section 17 to be a major issue, in terms of both people and money; therefore, she wanted Mr. Williams to go over it again. She clarified a couple would have to have been married and living in Alaska, being eligible for a PFD, to then leave with an allowable absence. By definition the accompanying spouse would similarly be given the allowable absence, thus allowed to receive the PFD. She asked Mr. Williams if she was correct. Number 298 MR. WILLIAMS responded she was correct. The "piggyback" provision has been in regulation since the beginning of the program, because it did not make sense to grant an individual an allowable absence and not treat his/her family similarly. A regulation was adopted to account for this provision. SB 327, in part, addressed a concern as to how the DOR was viewing the eligibility of spouses of nonresidents. Specific language was added which said, in essence, the DOR shall consider all the relevant facts in determining an individual's residency. The original bill draft stated, "and you cannot consider the residency of an individual spouse as the only reason to deny the spouse." He mentioned on the House floor there was an amendment proposed that said residency could not be considered at all. When that amendment was adopted, the DOR noted it would invalidate the "piggyback" rule. Accordingly, the House adopted other language which said, "residency could not be the principle factor." The DOR had thought this change solved the problem, however, Superior Court Judge Fabe concluded the "piggyback" rule was basing an individual's eligibility or residency as the principle factor. Number 351 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG asked how this conflict had gotten to court or why was a judge involved. Number 354 MR. WILLIAMS stated the court challenge came as a result of an Alaska resident, who was absent with a nonresident, the nonresident was serving in the military, therefore the resident claimed she should have also been given an allowable absence. The DOR did not see the regulation allowed for this. Judge Fabe did agree with the DOR on this issue, but in reviewing the whole issue, she felt the "piggyback" rule was invalidated by the changes made in SB 327. Number 372 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER clarified Section 17 only applies if they were married in Alaska and both were eligible for dividends before they left Alaska. Both individuals have to be eligible to then have allowable absence. Number 378 MR. WILLIAMS replied a nonresident is not entitled to a dividend. It does not matter where the marriage takes place, only that both residents are eligible before departure. Number 383 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER responded they must then be a family unit or their allowable absence could not "piggyback." MR. WILLIAMS clarified a spouse or a minor dependent. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER believed then it does matter where the couple is married, because they have to be a family unit before they left the state. Number 389 MR. WILLIAMS responded in order to claim the "piggyback" allowable absence, Representative Ulmer was correct. Number 391 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT clarified Section 17 was basically the same section he dealt with in Judiciary, Representative Eldon Mulder's bill, a couple of weeks ago. He had similar concerns about residency, particularly relating to military families, and asked if Section 17 would resolve this problem and afford those dependents PFD checks. Number 404 MR. WILLIAMS answered Section 17 would not resolve the concerns raised in House Judiciary about HB 75. Section 17 will resolve problems caused by Judge Fabe's court decision. Section 17 does not allow an individual resident accompanying a nonresident to retain eligibility for the dividend. Residents accompanying residents on allowable absence, to remain eligible for the dividend. Number 418 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS saw the DOR's point with Section 12, where the PFD program is the first in line for receiving unallowed payments. For the overall residents of the state, however, the DOR would be better off to allow for a child support payment first, which would be more beneficial to the state. He felt there was probably more cost associated with attempting to recover those funds if they did not have this first option, rather than retrieving for the PFD program. Number 433 MR. VITALE stated Representative Parnell's opinion on this subject. Representative Parnell felt the money never belonged to these individuals in the first place, and once it is presented in this manner it may set a bad precedent. To give the money to another party to cover the individual's debt is to acknowledge that it was their money to begin with. The money should be given back since it is "akin to stolen money," although not intentionally stolen. Child support provisions are worthy, but the DOR should have the money back first. Number 447 CHAIR VEZEY noticed the time being near 10:00 a.m. and asked what time session was. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT answered 11:00 a.m. Number 450 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER visualized a military couple that becomes eligible and they leave the state, saying they intend to remain residents. She then asked how long this couple could be out of state and still receive a PFD check. Number 460 MR. WILLIAMS responded, as long as the couple can demonstrate residency, basically indefinitely. Under regulation, there is a presumption that an individual who has been absent for five years, for most of the allowable absences, does not really have the intent to return to remain permanently. This presumption can be overcome in unique cases of demonstrating ties to the state. Regulation does state the DOR will consider facts in determining whether an individual has overcome the five year presumption against them. There is a higher threshold of proof after five years. Number 475 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER was curious as to how the DOR deals with people on allowable absences differently whether or not they intend to maintain residency. She believed the regulations Mr. Williams was referring to were used by people who review the applications. She asked if there were any percentages determining how long and how many people on allowable absences have been gone for. MR. WILLIAMS replied there is currently a question on the PFD application that asks "you the last time that you have lived here for six consecutive months." Based on this question and edit criteria, the DOR selected only 600 individuals for an eligibility determination last year. This number does not include their spouses or their dependents. He stated bright-line criteria is not readily available for this area, and it would be easier to administer, if perhaps the law said after a certain period time, an individual could not get the dividend. The DOR has received letters from individuals who complain of people who are out of state, who still receive dividends, and do not intend to return to Alaska. Number 515 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER directed to Chair Vezey, HB 392 may be an opportunity to insert a bright-line, which might say after eight years, if a person has not returned to Alaska to live, the presumption changes. A different test, rather than the initial one, may be administered. She felt HB 392 might be a good opportunity for the state to "close the door" or put people on notice that they need genuine intent to return to Alaska. Number 528 MR. WILLIAMS replied the DOR would welcome any bright-line criteria because it makes the administration easier and reduces their use of discretion. Using discretion has been known to result in additional appeals. Number 535 On behalf of Representative Parnell, MR. VITALE entered he is in very much in favor of bright-lines and tightening down the program. There had been initial dialogue about a five year limit; however, this provision was stalled because it would eliminate Senators Murkowski and Stevens, and Congressman Young from the PFD. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER clarified her point was not an automatic elimination, just a change in the presumption after the bright-line to require more proof. Number 541 MR. VITALE responded to do what Representative Ulmer suggested the PFD would then be brought into judgment roles, which would have to be clarified. He stated intent is really hard to define. There is another option such as the introduced bill, which states a person cannot receive the money until he/she comes back for a year. He emphasized Representative Parnell would be very willing to entertain wording in that manner. Number 554 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS noted students out of state may succumb to the large registration drives on their campuses to vote federally, which would automatically eliminate them from the PFD. Registering out of state would automatically make them nonresidents, so it would take them another year to qualify as a residents, which in turn deprives them of the PFD for two years. He was concerned for these students and realized it would be hard to judge a valid mistake. He then asked if the DOR has any type of consideration which would put one of these students back on line sooner than two years. MR. WILLIAMS replied, in all instances, when an individual registers to vote in another state, they are declaring they are a resident of that state. The DOR is well aware of the problem, but he felt there was not a reasonable basis for saying "we believe your original intent is to remain a resident here." Regardless of voter registration or applying for property tax exemption, Title 1 states "you are a resident of the state of Alaska, until such time as you take steps inconsistent with that residency, or to establish residency elsewhere." Number 590 CHAIR VEZEY questioned whether it was good legislative drafting practice to incorporate into a statute, a former statute, referring to Section 17. He felt it may be cleaner to incorporate the paragraph of the former statute in HB 392 and not require a person to have to research what it says. Hearing no more testimony, CHAIR VEZEY held HB 392 in committee to be rescheduled and allow time for amendments to be proposed. ADJOURNMENT Chair Vezey adjourned the meeting at 10:16 a.m. BILLS NOT HEARD HB 483: "An Act relating to payment of permanent fund dividends of certain individuals who have been absent from the state; and providing for an effective date."