Legislature(1997 - 1998)
05/03/1997 08:10 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE May 3, 1997 8:10 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Jeannette James, Chair Representative Ethan Berkowitz Representative Fred Dyson Representative Kim Elton Representative Mark Hodgins Representative Al Vezey MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Ivan Ivan COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 21 Relating to amendment of Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. - MOVED HJR 21 OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 55 "An Act relating to the fiscal operations of the Alaska Railroad Corporation and to land acquired by the State of Alaska under the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 1982 or otherwise acquired for railroad purposes; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD *HOUSE BILL NO. 269 "An Act relating to permits to carry concealed handguns; and relating to the possession of firearms." - MOVED HB 269 OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 141(RLS) am "An Act relating to permits to carry concealed handguns; and relating to the possession of firearms." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HJR 21 SHORT TITLE: REQUESTING CONGRESS TO AMEND ANILCA SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MASEK, Ogan, Cowdery, Ryan, Martin, Vezey, Mulder, Rokeberg, Kohring, Austerman JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/12/97 314 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 02/12/97 314 (H) RESOURCES, STATE AFFAIRS 03/13/97 (H) RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124 03/13/97 (H) MINUTE(RES) 03/20/97 (H) RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124 03/20/97 (H) MINUTE(RES) 03/27/97 (H) MINUTE(RES) 04/01/97 893 (H) RES RPT 2DP 2DNP 3NR 04/01/97 893 (H) DP: MASEK, OGAN 04/01/97 893 (H) DNP: NICHOLIA, JOULE 04/01/97 893 (H) NR: DYSON, GREEN, HUDSON 04/01/97 894 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (H.RES) 04/08/97 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/08/97 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/10/97 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/10/97 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/15/97 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/15/97 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/18/97 1188 (H) COSPONSOR(S): COWDERY, RYAN, MARTIN 04/18/97 1188 (H) VEZEY 04/22/97 1275 (H) COSPONSOR(S): MULDER 04/23/97 1307 (H) COSPONSOR(S): ROKEBERG 04/24/97 1331 (H) COSPONSOR(S): KOHRING BILL: HB 55 SHORT TITLE: ALASKA RR BUDGET AND LAND SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF LEGISLATIVE BUDGET AND AUDIT JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/13/97 42 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/13/97 42 (H) TRANSPORTATION, FINANCE 01/15/97 78 (H) STA REFERRAL ADDED 02/05/97 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 02/05/97 (H) MINUTE(TRA) 02/10/97 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 02/10/97 (H) MINUTE(TRA) 02/17/97 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 02/17/97 (H) MINUTE(TRA) 02/19/97 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 02/19/97 (H) MINUTE(TRA) 02/24/97 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 02/24/97 (H) MINUTE(TRA) 02/25/97 461 (H) TRA RPT CS(TRA) NT 2DP 2DNP 2NR 02/25/97 461 (H) DP: SANDERS, COWDERY 02/25/97 462 (H) DNP: HUDSON, ELTON 02/25/97 462 (H) NR: MASEK, WILLIAMS 02/25/97 462 (H) 3 ZERO FISCAL NOTES (LAW, 2-DNR) 02/25/97 462 (H) REFERRED TO STATE AFFAIRS 05/03/97 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 269 SHORT TITLE: CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) VEZEY JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 05/01/97 1445 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 05/01/97 1445 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE 05/03/97 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE TERRY MARTIN Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 502 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: (907) 465-3783 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 55. JAMES BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General Governmental Affairs Section Civil Division Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300 Telephone: (907) 465-3600 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 55. DOROTHY URBACH P.O. Box 249 Seward, Alaska 99664 Telephone: (907) 224-3089 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in opposition to HB 55. JOHNE BINKLEY P.O. Box 80447 Fairbanks, Alaska 99708 Telephone: (907) 479-6006 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in opposition to HB 55. BILL SHEFFIELD, Chairman Board of Directors Alaska Railroad Corporation P.O. Box 107500 Anchorage, Alaska 99510 Telephone: (907) 265-2403 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in opposition to HB 55. JOLENE M. MOLITEROS, Administrator Federal Railroad Administration Address not provided Telephone: Not provoded POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 55. TROY STRASS 909 Chugach Way, Lot 81 Seward, Alaska 99503 Telephone: (907) 562-9380 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in opposition to HB 55. DICK BISHOP, Executive Director Alaska Outdoor Council 211 4th Street, Suite 302 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 463-3830 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in support of HB 269. STEVE HEYANO 1201 Denali Street, Number 109 Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Telephone: (907) 258-7475 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in support of HB 269. DUANE BUELL P.O. Box 32319 Juneau, Alaska 99802 Telephone: (907) 780-4489 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in support of HB 269. PATRICK JOHNSON 54540 East End Road Homer, Alaska 99603 Telephone: (907) 235-3170 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in support of HB 269. DEL SMITH, Deputy Commissioner Office of the Commissioner Department of Public Safety P.O. Box 111200 Juneau, Alaska 99811-1200 Telephone: (907) 465-4322 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 269. GREG HALL P.O. Box 813 Delta Junction, Alaska 99737 Telephone: (907) 895-5050 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in support of HB 269. DAVID WILLIAMS 420 West 12th Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 586-9178 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in support of HB 269. HORACE BLACK P.O. Box 10811 Fairbanks, Alaska 99710 Telephone: (907) 457-7300 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in support of HB 269. DEAN J. GUANELI, Assistant Attorney General Legal Services Section Criminal Division Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300 Telephone: (907) 465-3428 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 269. JAYNE ANDREEN, Executive Director Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Department of Public Safety P.O. Box 111200 Juneau, Alaska 99811-1200 Telephone: (907) 465-4356 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 269. JERRY BAGNESCHI 923 East 17th Avenue Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Telephone: (907) 274-9267 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in support of HB 269. TUCKERMAN BABCOCK, Legislative Assistant to Senator Lyda Green State Capitol, Room 125 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: (907) 465-6600 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 269. BILL JONES P.O. Box 795 Barrow, Alaska 99723 Telephone: (907) 852-0307 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony in support of HB 269. LAUREE HUGONIN, Executive Director Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault 130 Seward Street, Room 501 Telephone: (907) 586-3650 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 269. HAL HUME 4016 Birch Lane Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 Telephone: (907) 479-6724 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 269. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-56, SIDE A Number 0001 The House State Affairs Standing Committee was called to order by Chair Jeannette James at 8:10 a.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives James, Berkowitz, Dyson, Elton, Hodgins, and Vezey. Members absent were Ivan. HJR 21 - REQUESTING CONGRESS TO AMEND ANILCA The first order of business to come before the House State Affairs Standing Committee was HJR 21, Relating to amendment of Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Number 0035 CHAIR JEANNETTE JAMES explained she had been requested to move HJR 21 to the House Rules Standing Committee. She asked for a motion. Number 0050 REPRESENTATIVE MARK HODGINS moved that HJR 21 move from the committee with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal note(s). Number 0071 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON and REPRESENTATIVE ETHAN BERKOWITZ objected at the same time. Number 0115 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ stated he was sorry that Representative Ivan Ivan was not here because his views carried a lot of weight with him on this issue. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ further stated it was unfortunate that we were proceding in this manner. Senator Ted Stevens expressly indicated that the resolution complicated matters. It was a mistake to fly in the face of his warning. More work should have been done when imposing a solution on a problem that required consensus to move forward, especially since the testimony indicated this was highly contentious. Ultimately, the state would have to be united in its approach to the subsistence question. "I don't think HJR 21 unites, it divides." Number 0205 REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON stated he had been surprised at the vehement reaction to the resolution when to him it appeared to be a good option to explore. He had hoped that the resolution would produce a lot more meaningful dialogue instead of the polarized reactions. "I don't think that it is going to be the solution as Representative Berkowitz says until there is some buy in by all the parties." However, we have got to move because of the October 1, 1997 deadline. He believed that there would be a draconian impact on Alaska's subsistence of fish and game as a result of the take over by the federal government. He did not think that HJR 21 by itself would solve the problem. But, there were two other proposals that could be part of the solution. Therefore, he agreed to move the bill forward. He did not want people to think that he had caved in on his views. The resolution was a good faith attempt for a solution. It was in no way meant to diminish the rights to the use of Alaska's fish and game. Number 0398 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stated HJR 21 was a solution that favored one wing of those affected. The other solutions that Representative Dyson referred to had yet to be heard. House Joint Resolution 21 was the only solution moving forward. He noted that there had been two or three special sessions over the past seven years on the issue of subsistence. "I guess I think that this moving forward with this bill is divisive. I think it drives wedges between the people who need to come toward the middle for a solution. And, I agree absolutely with Senator Ted Stevens about the impact of this particular solution." He objected to moving the resolution and to moving it this late in the session. Number 0554 CHAIR JAMES stated the solution to the issue would not be solved by the legislature but by the public. She would not say that HJR 21 was not needed, nor would she say that the language was not correct. There were three components to the solution: a resolution to be sent to Congress; a statute to be written in an Alaskan way; and a constitutional amendment to be enacted that would not violate the common use clause, and that would give similar protection and comfort as the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) gave. She would move the resolution forward, but her recommendation would be amend rather than do pass. CHAIR JAMES called for a roll call vote. Representatives James, Dyson, Hodgins and Vezey voted in favor of the motion. Representatives Berkowitz and Elton voted against the motion. House Joint Resolution 21 was so moved from the House State Affairs Standing Committee. HB 55 - ALASKA RR BUDGET AND LAND The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Standing Committee was HB 55, "An Act relating to the fiscal operations of the Alaska Railroad Corporation and to land acquired by the State of Alaska under the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 1982 or otherwise acquired for railroad purposes; and providing for an effective date." Number 0720 CHAIR JAMES explained the plan for the bill was to hold it over until Tuesday, May 6, 1997, in order to take additional testimony. Number 0799 REPRESENTATIVE TERRY MARTIN, Alaska State Legislature, explained the bill was introduced on behalf of the Legislative Budget and Audit Joint Committee after allegations that the Alaska Railroad was not following the procedure act for the state of Alaska. A letter by Norman C. Gorsuch, Attorney General, dated May 26, 1984, indicated that the state should not neglect its responsibility to privatize the railroad. The legislature only wanted to be a conduit to save the railroad because the federal government wanted to get rid of it. Since then there had been efforts to privatize the railroad and to stop it, but that was a different battle. The bill did not deal with privatization, selling the railroad, or the land. It only dealt with bringing the corporation under the Executive Budget Act (EBA) like every other corporation in the state. Last year, a letter from Tamara Brandt Cook, Director, Division of Legal and Research Services, indicated that the state must bring the Alaska Railroad under the EBA. Therefore, the legislature on behalf of the public would be able to protect the land, resources, and other assets that belonged to the state. Number 1070 JAMES BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General, Governmental Affairs Section, Civil Division, Department of Law, was the next person to testify in Juneau. The Administration was not in support of the bill. The opinion from 1984 referred to by Representative Martin was being misrepresented. There were varying types of corporations in the state in different business. The legislature had chosen to treat each of the corporations differently under the EBA. There had been other corporations that had been totally off budget. The opinion in 1984 was a value judgement of the type of entity that would operate the Alaska Railroad. The legislature chose that it would be an entity that was capable of conducting business as a private corporation, but also recognizing that it was a governmental entity. The legislature wanted it to run without subsidy on a business type budget, not a governmental type budget; otherwise, it would be bound by the state's fiscal year, line- items, and the requirements of the EBA. MR. BALDWIN further stated there was concern that access to the credit market would be impaired by placing the railroad under the EBA. The railroad took advantage of a small issuers exemption to the Internal Revenue Code which gave a better interest rate because it was under $10 million. If the railroad was lumped with the state under the EBA it would not be considered less than $10 million and the cost of borrowing would be more. Number 1285 DOROTHY URBACH was the first person to testify via teleconference in Seward. She was opposed to the bill because it would limit flexibility to the customers on long-term contracts. It would also limit financing for future acquisitions. The Alaska Railroad had a very efficient board of directors and was making a profit. "Why destroy it?" she asked. Number 1337 JOHNE BINKLEY was the next person to testify via teleconference in Fairbanks. He currently served on the board of directors for the Alaska Railroad. He had also served in the Alaska State Legislature, and had been part of a family business for his entire life. There were many reasons to oppose the bill and there was only one reason to pass the bill. MR. BINKLEY further stated the Alaska railroad retained its earned revenue unlike any other agency. The bill would preclude the railroad from enjoying the status that allowed it to get a lower interest rate from banks. It would also violate the covenant in the existing long-term debt and would have the banks call on the notes. The banks would no longer be able to enjoy the tax break from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). MR. BINKLEY further stated it would preclude the railroad from borrowing money in the future for capital expenditures because it would require a legislative appropriation. The railroad relied heavily on equipment. It would be disastrous to try and get money from the legislature. MR. BINKLEY further stated it would increase the risk to the state of Alaska. The Alaska Railroad purchased its insurance for catastrophic single occurrence coverage for up to $75 million. There had been dozens of lawsuits against the Alaska Railroad Corporation and not once had the state been named. MR. BINKLEY further stated the railroad's peak season was the summer months. The EBA would force the railroad to adopt the state's fiscal year which ended on June 30. It did not make any business sense to interrupt the fiscal year in the middle of the busiest season. The railroad's fiscal year was the calendar year ending in the off season which allowed for more efficiency. MR. BINKLEY further stated that the federal government realized in running the Alaska Railroad that it would not work if political power was the board of directors. Political power was why the railroad lost huge sums of money over the years. It was also why the Railroad Act said to set it up as a private or separate corporation. The bill would be in violation of the act, but he did not know if the federal government would take action. MR. BINKLEY further stated the only one reason to pass the bill was to allow for the legislature to have more influence over the running of the Alaska Railroad. He did not believe that the bill would only allow for a small line in the front section of the budget because he had seen how the legislature worked and how it affected the operations of state agencies. The railroad ran on the same principles as the private sector - customer service and profit. In addition, he was appalled that a republican run legislature was even considering this type of bill. Number 1782 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked Mr. Binkley if he received any compensation from the Alaska Railroad now? MR. BINKLEY replied, "Yes." He received a stipend as a board member as called for in law. REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS stated he now understood the testimony of Mr. Binkley. Number 1800 MR. BINKLEY replied, if Representative Hodgins was suggesting that he was testifying because it was benefitting him financially, he took exception to the comment. He worked in a family business with over 140 employees that received a paycheck every Friday. His employees were his primary focus. He was asked to serve on the board. He did not serve because of a stipend. He served because he felt a true and genuine obligation to keep something going that worked for the state of Alaska. Number 1832 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS apologized to Mr. Binkley. Number 1837 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON stated he was really uncomfortable about just what happened. He was also uncomfortable because of the laughing in the audience when people were testifying telephonically. CHAIR JAMES asked the committee members and the audience to control their gestures. Number 1903 BILL SHEFFIELD, Chairman, Board of Directors, Alaska Railroad Corporation, was the next person to testify via off-net in Anchorage. He noted today was Railroad Day in Anchorage and Jolene M. Molitoris, Federal Railway Administration, was here as well wishing to testify. MR. SHEFFIELD further stated there were three basic categories of flaw in the bill: the impact on the private businesses that thrived on the railroad, the governmental problems, and the damage to the fundamental way the railroad was organized. MR. SHEFFIELD explained the railroad was purchased from the federal government so that Alaskans could control a vital transportation corridor. The legislature understood that governmental railroads were often run for political reasons and by bureaucrats. And, if it had to compete for money with hospitals and schools, it would fall into disrepair. Therefore, the railroad was set up precisely to avoid the pitfalls. It was separated so that it could hire professional managers whose goals were to provide good service, earn a profit, and focus on safety. The bill would violate the separation. MR. SHEFFIELD explained the bill was bad for business and for the contractors. Its business year was established to met the business flow. The state's fiscal year would rip its business year right down the middle of its busiest season. The railroad had to act quickly because it was a service business. It could not wait for the legislature to increase its budget or to collect the extra revenue. The bill would also hurt its ability to borrow money to upgrade equipment, expand its service, or track for example. The loans were not written so that the interest and principle were depended upon legislative appropriation. It was hard to believe that a commercial lender would loan the railroad money at the current interest rates if repayment was dependent upon legislative appropriation. This would cause the railroad to either go under or force it to go to the legislature for subsidy. MR. SHEFFIELD explained the bill had been sold to the public as a good governmental bill with no real oversight or added responsibility for the state. The Alaska Railroad Corporation was intentionally separated from the government so that any financial obligations would not fall back to the state in the case of default or liability. If the bill passed the state would be liable regardless of the new tort reform law because with control came responsibility and real cost. MR. SHEFFIELD stated, in conclusion, the bill would add a layer of governmental bureaucracy to a profitable and self-sustaining asset. It would increase the cost of doing business and strain the ability of the railroad to obtain financing for improvements affecting customer service. It would undue the intent of the legislature in 1985, and it would expose the citizens and the Governor to substantial liability. Number 2245 JOLENE M. MOLITEROS, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, was the next person to testify via off-net. The Clinton Administration was committed to a partnership that enhanced rail transportation for the twenty-first century. She was here to focus on the safe operations of the railroad and to enhance the partnership. The railroad was a crucial transportation resource for the future of the state. It was unique in the United States because it represented the artery of the state's transportation system. It was important to know that there was federal legislation that would help the railroad compete for existing transportation resources enhancing its ability to become more profitable and safe. She reiterated she had been impressed with the partnership around safety and customer service. It was the type of relationships that the president believed would enhance the transportation system in the twenty-first century to meet global competition. TAPE 97-56, SIDE B Number 0001 TROY STRASS was the next person to testify via teleconference in Seward. He started his career with the Alaska Railroad in passenger services. He was concerned about the impact of the bill on the budget cycle of the railroad. It was important to have the money for the busy season in the summer months. He could not see how the railroad could expand under the fiscal cycle of the state. CHAIR JAMES announced the public testimony was closed for today. The bill would be scheduled again for Tuesday, May 6, 1997. Number 0068 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON apologized to Representative Martin for his reaction earlier in light of the realization that he was not being contemptuous to the testifiers. HB 269 - CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITS The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Standing Committee was HB 269, "An Act relating to permits to carry concealed handguns; and relating to the possession of firearms." Number 0094 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY, sponsor of HB 269, explained the bill was an attempt to tweak the existing law. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained Sec. 1 and Sec. 2 amended the criminal statutes to make it clear that no felon, even a non- violent felon, would ever be able to apply for a concealed carry permit. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained Sec. 3, Sec. 5 and Sec. 15 cleaned up the law to make it easier to enforce. Section 15 recognized the right of an out-of-state permit holder to carry in the state of Alaska. He suggested amending the bill to limit the time to 120 days - 30 days more than the 90 days required to get a permit. We would not want a person to maintain his citizenship in another state just for the purpose of carrying a concealed handgun without getting a permit in Alaska. Section 3 and Sec. 5 improved the definition that allowed municipalities and villages to prohibit the possession of concealed weapons. Section 5 allowed for a person to carry a concealed handgun into a restaurant even if it served alcoholic beverages; as-long-as, the permittee did not consume alcohol. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained Sec. 7 and Sec. 8 ensured that the applicant received a copy of the law and required the Department of Public Safety to compile a summary of the law. Section 8 required the department to process the permit without waiting unduly long for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to complete the background check. It also gave the authority to revoke a permit if it received information that would make the permittee ineligible. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained Sec. 10 simplified the standards for the qualifications to apply. It also allowed a person under the age of 21 to carry with the permission of his parents, and only on the parent's dwelling or place of business. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ stated he did not follow the parental permission Representative Vezey explained in Sec. 10. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY apologized because it was not in Sec. 10, but in the statute that Sec. 10 addressed. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained Sec. 12 reduced the fee. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained Sec. 13 amended the language to give the department the authority to suspend permits for anyone who was ineligible under law to possess a handgun. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained Sec. 14 amended the language to increase the elapsed time for a conviction of a misdemeanor from "5" years to "6" years. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained Sec. 16 repealed prohibitions that were not applicable. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained Sec. 17 simplified some of the definitions. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained Sec. 18 repealed redundant aspects of the law. Number 0354 DICK BISHOP, Executive Director, Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC), was the first person to testify in Juneau. The AOC was a statewide conservation organization and the official state association of the National Rifle Association. The AOC supported the right of an individual to keep and bear arms, and the safe and ethical use of firearms. The AOC supported the permit to carry a concealed handgun, HB 269, and SB 141. The AOC was pleased that the debate had gotten beyond the emotional stage and had gotten down to the nuts and bolts of refining the law. The AOC in particular supported the provisions of the right to carry wherever it was not prohibited by law, the reciprocity, the accommodations for the honorably retired police officers, the streamline process of the application process, the improved protections for the permittee, the concise definition of concealed handgun, and the strong stance against felons having the same privileges. The AOC urged the passage of HB 269. Number 0473 STEVE HEYANO was the first person to testify via teleconference in Anchorage. He was a student at the university. He supported HB 269. He held a concealed handgun permit. He wondered why the opposition believed somebody would go through the permitting process and still commit a crime. The common criminal would not go through the hoops necessary to commit a crime. He stated, "All we are are law abiding citizens trying to protect ourselves in pretty much any where we go." Number 0544 DUANE BUELL was the next person to testify in person in Juneau. He had followed the concealed handgun legislation since the beginning. He agreed with Representative Vezey that HB 269 was a clean up of the existing law. He supported the bill fully. Number 0584 PATRICK JOHNSON was the next person to testify via teleconference in Homer. He taught a concealed carry class and had served in two different law enforcement agencies over the years. He was positively in favor of the bill. He supported the reciprocity provision. It had yet to present a problem in other states, otherwise the anti-gun press would report it. He supported the provision to allow permittees to carry into a bar when not consuming alcohol, the provision that recognized retired law enforcement officers, and the provision to reduce the fees. As an instructor, he had seen people not take the class because it was too expensive. He recognized it was a catch-22 situation because the fees supported the program, while at the same time it kept people out that could potentially generate more fees. He noted in conclusion that as an instructor he had not graduated a student that he did not feel comfortable with. Number 0735 DEL SMITH, Deputy Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Public Safety, was the next person to testify in Juneau. He was concerned about the reciprocity issue. He supported reciprocity if the permittee met the standards of the state. He was concerned that a person could carry a concealed handgun without being aware of the standards of Alaska. He recognized that the fee could be high for some people. The department was now spending close to the fee of $122 for two clerks to run the program. If the fee was reduced to $99 the department would try to live within the means, but it could mean that he would have to cut back on the personnel. He did not want to go any lower than two because he did not want to slow down the process. He was also concerned about the issue of individuals in alcohol treatment programs covered under current law which was not addressed in HB 269. Number 0880 CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Vezey if the bill addressed individuals in alcohol treatment programs? Number 0891 MR. SMITH stated it was covered under current law. CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Vezey if the bill took it away? REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied we did not address the issue. CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Vezey if it was still there? REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied to the best of his knowledge it was still there. Number 0913 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked Mr. Smith if reducing the fees would slow down the permitting process? Number 0920 MR. SMITH replied the permitting process took about 30 days. If the fee was reduced to $99 and the volume did not change, it could potentially affect the permitting process. The department would have to cut back the times it was open for business. Number 0958 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked Mr. Smith what his other concern was besides, reciprocity, fees, and individuals in substance abuse programs? MR. SMITH replied he could not recall another concern. Number 1027 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked Mr. Smith if there was information to demonstrate that non-violent felons that were clean for 10 years were a threat to public safety? Number 1063 MR. SMITH replied he was not sure if there was any statistical data for non-violent felons. He would be opposed to any violent felons - ever - to carry a concealed handgun or a gun. He was concerned in general about the state extending a privilege to someone who violated the law. He did not have any strong feelings, however, if after 10 years a non-violent felon should be punished for life. Number 1104 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON stated there was a provision that allowed a felon if he or she stayed out of the clutches of the law to get the right to vote back. Number 1142 GREG HALL was the next person to testify via teleconference in Delta Junction. He supported HB 269. There was a language difference in the sponsor statements between HB 269 and SB 141. He could not see the difference in the bills, however. He found Sec. 5 redundant because if a person had a sip of alcohol with a gun it was a violation of the law anyway. He was concerned about an amendment offered to SB 141 that required the announcement of a concealed gun upon entering a home when there were dishonest people. He was also concerned about retirees. A person should not be given special treatment after retirement because the part of carrying a gun for his career was over. He did not have a problem with active or reserve policemen, however. Number 1369 DAVID WILLIAMS was the next person to testify in Juneau. He supported HB 269 and believed that the changes were reasonable. It was very aggravating to leave his gun behind when entering a hotel or restaurant simply because there was a bar attached to the premises. There were laws already on the books to prohibit drinking while in possession of a gun. The reduction of the fees would be appreciated because he knew of some people who could not afford the cost. In Fairbanks, it amounted to $400 for a couple to get their licenses. The prohibition of a derringer was silly because it was designed as a concealed firearm. Relaxing the laws would encourage more law abiding people to apply when only a little over 2 percent of eligible Alaskans carried a license. In Florida, not one innocent person had been killed or injured by a concealed permittee in the eight years post its reform. A study of good samaritans that came to the aid of violent crime victims indicated that 80 percent were gun owners and many carried one with them or in their car. A more user friendly concealed carry law would benefit the citizens and contribute to the security of society. Number 1568 HORACE BLACK was the next person to testify via teleconference in Fairbanks. House Bill 269 was a good bill as it stood right now. He could not in any way support CSSB 141(FIN) because it would be detrimental and punitive to permittees. He quoted a statement by a woman who left her gun in her car because she could not bring it into the restaurant where violence broke out and many were killed. There was a notable lacking of knowledge in regards to what other states were doing from those that opposed this type of legislation when it made sense to research what other were doing. The facts indicated that concealed handguns saved money in preventative crimes and the associated damage expense. Thousands of crimes were prevented by permittees because they were there at the outset of the incident while the police were called after the crime had been committed. There were ten times more permit holders than police officers. In addition, permit holders were honorable citizens and the crime rate was about the same rate as the crime rate amongst state legislatures and members of the United States Congress - extremely small. Number 2031 DEAN J. GUANELI, Assistant Attorney General, Legal Services Section, Criminal Division, Department of Law, was the next person to testify in Juneau. It was one thing to reduce the fees or speed up the process, but it was another thing to tinker with the underlying qualifications. He objected to changes in who and where a person could carry a concealed handgun. Current law specified a number of areas in the state where concealed handguns could not be carried even with a permit. The areas were carefully considered three years ago. They represented sensitive areas where tempers flared and included the following: police departments, correctional facilities, governmental offices, and domestic violence shelters. House Bill 269 would wipe away their protection. It had been said that all of the areas could rely on current criminal trespassing laws for protection such as posting a sign: "No concealed handguns". A sign would work only in private buildings such as domestic violence shelters. It would not work in public buildings such as the legislature because it would not prohibit somebody from entering the premise. If a person failed to leave a public building upon direction the crime of criminal trespass was committed. Therefore, there could be signs posted in public buildings, but they would not make a bit of difference. MR. GUANELI further stated that there were 6,000 permittees or 1 percent of the Alaskan population. Therefore, 99 percent of Alaskans did not carry a concealed handgun. The individuals that did not carry felt more comfortable in public buildings knowing it was against the law to have a concealed handgun. It was a balance between the desires of the 1 percent who carried and the comfort level of the 99 percent who did not carry. MR. GUANELI further stated current law indicated who could and who could not carry a concealed handgun. Individuals, for example, in a treatment program could not obtain a permit unless they had been out of treatment for three years. The bill, however, would repeal that protection. TAPE 97-57, SIDE A Number 0001 MR. GUANELI further stated that any of the provisions in AS 18.65.705, "Qualification to obtain a permit" should not be swept away. They were more specific than federal law and provided more guidance. MR. GUANELI further stated in regards to reciprocity, unless there was a provision indicating that the requirements of another state were as strict as Alaska's, you elevated the rights of nonresidents above the rights of residents. Nonresidents could carry a gun when hunting, fishing, or hiking for protection before there was a concealed handgun permit law - all the reasons for a tourist to carry a gun. There were provisions in Alaska law that did not exist in other states. For example, provisions in Alaska law required a person to inform a police officer that he or she was carrying a concealed handgun. People from other states would not know that they were required to do that thereby putting them at risk of violating the law. At the least, the state should limit its reciprocity with those states that had the same requirements. It was the same concept as a drivers license, except that there was a broad interstate compact amongst the states. Number 0249 CHAIR JAMES stated she understood the public's fear of guns. She asked Mr. Guaneli how we could change the public's view by separating the gun from the carrier? Number 0334 MR. GUANELI replied he was not certain how to change public perception. People had very deeply held beliefs on some subject matters including guns. There were a lot of honest and law abiding citizens who believed that guns made them safer. There were also a lot of honest and law abiding citizens who believed that guns put them in greater danger. Number 0407 CHAIR JAMES stated there were a lot of dead people who believed that their only protection was the police. Her basic belief was that a person had responsibility for himself. Number 0475 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON stated, in regards to testimony from Mr. Guaneli, a sign would not do anything except inform. The sign itself was not a physical barrier from a person carrying onto the premise a concealed weapon. He asked Mr. Guaneli to clarify what he meant by the signs prohibiting. Number 0526 MR. GUANELI replied in a private building if a sign was posted and a person entered with a concealed handgun it was a crime. In a public building if a sign was posted and a person entered with a concealed handgun it was not a crime until the person was confronted and directed to leave. Number 0576 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON stated the only thing that would stop a person was a search. The word "prohibit" was being used differently. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked Mr. Guaneli how was it possible to balance the right of a person to protect himself with the prohibited places, particularly for those that had been a victim of domestic violence? Essentially, the law said to a stalker where he could go when a victim was vulnerable. Number 0681 MR. GUANELI replied there was no evidence to indicate that a stalker waited for a person to enter an area where a concealed handgun was prohibited. He would prefer to maintain the sanctity of sensitive areas rather than opening them up to concealed handguns. Number 0739 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON stated he saw the sanctity of a person being able to protect himself as a higher need. Number 0760 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS stated as a private pilot when he flew into Canada he familiarized himself with the laws. Ignorance should not protect somebody from the law in regards to reciprocity. Number 0796 MR. GUANELI agreed ignorance of the law was not an excuse. Number 0800 CHAIR JAMES stated experience had shown that a person had to park his gun at various times throughout the day due to the prohibitions in law. She believed that leaving a gun in a car, for example, was the most dangerous place because the owner was not in control of it. The safest place to keep a gun was concealed on the owner's body because no one would know it was there and the owner would be in control. She was more concerned about the individuals that were carrying a concealed handgun without a permit because they felt danger. Number 0962 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ explained his experience with a concealed weapon was with a narcotics trafficker. The fact that the trafficker had a permit was of assistance to law enforcement. He wondered if AS 11.61.200(a)(12) with the exception of the language "is concealed" was the same as AS 11.61.200(a)(1). Number 1052 MR. GUANELI stated the two provisions were very similar. Non- violent felons would be allowed to obtain a permit after a certain period of time elapsed. Alaska Statute 11.61.200(a)(1) stated a felon could not possess a concealed handgun with some exceptions until 10 years had elapsed. Alaska Statute 11.61.200(a)(12) stated a felon could not knowingly possess a concealed handgun. Number 1134 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY stated he was puzzled by the comment made by Representative Berkowitz in regards to a narcotics trafficker being allowed to carry a concealed carry permit. Number 1151 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ explained the language sweep on page 2, lines 13-14, would not include a convicted narcotics trafficker with a concealed weapon. Number 1178 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY stated it would still be a felony to possess any narcotic with the intent to sell. And, 10 years would still have to elapse before he or she was eligible for a permit. Number 1202 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ stated a person convicted of vehicular assault not involving a weapon would be unable to use the affirmative defense under (a)(12). Whereas, a person convicted of a narcotics defense involving a weapon, but not convicted on the weapons portion, would be able to use the affirmative defense under (a)(12). Number 1234 MR. GUANELI explained the critical point was the language on page 2, line 15, "and". A person convicted of burglary after 10 years time could only possess a concealed weapon in his own house; on his land; or when engaged in hunting, fishing, trapping, or other lawful outdoor activities. Number 1301 JAYNE ANDREEN, Executive Director, Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Department of Public Safety, was the next person to testify in Juneau. The council was concerned that individuals with domestic violence offenses would be eligible for a permit. Legislation was passed at the federal level prohibiting an individual with a domestic violence offense from obtaining a permit. Alaska's definitions revised last year were broader. The council was also concerned about the removal of domestic violence and sexual assault programs as places were concealed handguns would be banned. Domestic violence shelters would be able to post a sign and were secured facilities. However, there were outreach offices for most of the programs for the community based clients. In addition, most domestic violence offenders did not have a criminal record. They would be eligible for a permit. Number 1456 CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Andreen if anything had been done to prohibit a woman from coming to a shelter with a concealed handgun? Number 1476 MS. ANDREEN replied, currently, a woman would not be able to bring a concealed handgun into a shelter. CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Andreen if HB 269 allowed her to do that? MS. ANDREEN replied it could depending on interpretation. Number 1501 JERRY BAGNESCHI was the next person to testify via teleconference from Anchorage. He was in support of HB 269 and SB 141. He was concerned about the prohibition of guns in the schools because his wife attended the university in Anchorage where there had been several rapes on campus. In Fairbanks, several women had been killed on campus. There should be a provision for colleges. Number 1588 TUCKERMAN BABCOCK, Legislative Assistant to Senator Lyda Green, was the next person to testify in Juneau. He was here to answer any questions in regards to SB 141 or HB 269 and its relationship to SB 141. MR. BABCOCK noted the concerns of the Department of Public Safety had been addressed in SB 141 with the amended reciprocity provisions. In addition, the Alaska's Peace Officers Association objected to the lowering of the fees, otherwise it supported SB 141. The police chiefs of Valdez and the North Slope Borough endorsed SB 141. The police chief of Wasilla also spoke in favor of the bill. MR. BABCOCK further noted the experience of the last two and a half years had shown that a concealed handgun had yet to be used. And, despite the provisions that discriminated against a person from carrying a concealed handgun versus carrying an opened handgun into certain areas, the public safety question had been answered. Number 1750 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked Mr. Babcock if HB 269 allowed somebody to enter a home with a concealed handgun if a sign was not posted? Number 1764 MR. BABCOCK replied a provision was added in the Senate Finance Committee, which Senator Green did not support, that would require a person to announce when entering a home that he or she was carrying a concealed weapon. House Bill 269 did not have the same requirement. Number 1809 BILL JONES was the next person to testify via teleconference in Barrow. He supported HB 269 as written. Law abiding Alaskans had already proven that they could handle the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon. The opposition in general was emotional and not backed up with facts or statistics. Number 1847 LAUREE HUGONIN, Executive Director, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, was the next person to testify in Juneau. The network did not support the changes in Sec. 10, Sec. 13 and Sec. 16 and would prefer the current law. MS. HUGONIN stated there were some circumstances where a person would not be eligible to carry a firearm. The courts had ordered the forfeiture of a deadly weapon if it was in the actual possession of or used by the defendant during the commission of a crime of domestic violence, crimes against a person, or crimes of theft, for example, in Alaska. Another circumstance was a person knowingly possessing a firearm that was capable of being concealed if he or she had been convicted. In addition, there were a couple of circumstances when a protective order was granted that a person would be required to not use a gun while committing a crime of domestic violence. The network believed that a person who had committed a domestic violence crime should not be permitted to carry a concealed weapon. MS. HUGONIN stated the proposed bill loosened the protections in Sec. 13 that were currently available because it only applyed to a person convicted of a second class "A" misdemeanor. MS. HUGONIN stated the network was primarily concerned about domestic assault facilities in Sec. 16. She did not agree that a person could carry a concealed or opened handgun into a secured facility because he would be stopped at the door. A victim would be asked to turn over her weapon until further arrangements were made and she was ready to leave the shelter. A victim would not be penalized if she brought her weapon with her to a shelter, however. MS. HUGONIN stated she was concerned about reciprocity and the deletion of certain training requirements in Sec. 18. It would be a helpful safeguard to require training before reissuing a permit. CHAIR JAMES stated from her experience individuals preparing to carry a concealed handgun would not forget their training. They often engaged in target practice and were very concerned about safety, therefore, additional training would not be necessary. Number 2352 HAL HUME was the next person to testify via teleconference in Fairbanks. He had been a state police officer for over 15 years and was a certified firearms instructor. Vermont had the right approach because constitutionally good and honest citizens had the right to carry a firearm - concealed and opened. Studies had shown there was less crime in states that had a concealed carry law. He had a problem with bureaucrats that assumed the majority of the citizens were not stable and responsible individuals so that they needed to be controlled. A concealed carry law was simply protecting the public from honest and responsible citizens, not criminals. TAPE 97-57, SIDE B Number 0001 MR. HUME further stated the automobile was just as much of a weapon as a firearm when the state did not require training in a classroom, for example. If the state was concerned about death and accidents, it should consider better training for drivers as opposed to additional firearm training. In addition, he wondered why a permittee would be required to submit his firearm to a police officer if demanded. It would only create a chance for accidental discharge. Number 0080 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS moved that HB 269 move from the committee with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal note(s). There was no objection, HB 269 was so moved from the House State Affairs Standing Committee. ADJOURNMENT Number 0095 CHAIR JAMES adjourned the House State Affairs Standing Committee meeting at 10:35 a.m.