Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

01/31/2017 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 71 NO ST. EMPLOYEE PAY INCREASE FOR 2 YRS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ HB 7 DISPLAY OF PHOTOS OF MARKED BALLOT TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ HB 31 SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION KITS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                        January 31, 2017                                                                                        
                           3:03 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Chair                                                                                   
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Vice Chair                                                                                     
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
Representative Chris Birch                                                                                                      
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Andy Josephson (alternate)                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 71                                                                                                               
"An  Act  relating  to compensation,  merit  increases,  and  pay                                                               
increments for certain public  officials, officers, and employees                                                               
not covered  by collective  bargaining agreements;  and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 7                                                                                                                
"An Act relating to the exhibition of marked ballots."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 31                                                                                                               
"An Act  requiring the Department  of Public Safety to  develop a                                                               
tracking  system  and  collection  and  processing  protocol  for                                                               
sexual  assault  examination   kits;  requiring  law  enforcement                                                               
agencies  to send  sexual assault  examination  kits for  testing                                                               
within  18 months  after collection;  requiring an  inventory and                                                               
reports  on   untested  sexual  assault  examination   kits;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 71                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: NO ST. EMPLOYEE PAY INCREASE FOR 2 YRS                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
01/20/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/20/17       (H)       STA, FIN                                                                                               
01/31/17       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 7                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: DISPLAY OF PHOTOS OF MARKED BALLOT                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): KREISS-TOMKINS                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
01/18/17       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/9/17                                                                                
01/18/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/17       (H)       STA, CRA                                                                                               
01/31/17       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 31                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION KITS                                                                                    
SPONSOR(s): TARR                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
01/18/17       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/9/17                                                                                
01/18/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/17       (H)       STA, FIN                                                                                               
01/31/17       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SHELDON FISHER, Commissioner                                                                                                    
Department of Administration (DOA)                                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 71 on behalf of the House                                                                   
Rules Standing Committee, sponsor, by request of the governor.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
BILL MILLS, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                          
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 71.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ALICIA NORTON, Intern                                                                                                           
Representative Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                                   
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 7 on behalf of Representative                                                               
Kreiss-Tomkins, prime sponsor.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REID MAGDANZ, Staff                                                                                                             
Representative Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                                   
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 7 on behalf of                                                                  
Representative Kreiss-Tomkins, prime sponsor.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GERAN TARR                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 31, as prime sponsor.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CAPTAIN DAN LOWDEN, Deputy Commander                                                                                            
Division of Alaska State Troopers (AST)                                                                                         
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 31 and answered                                                               
questions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CRYSTAL GODBY                                                                                                                   
Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP)                                                                               
Nenana, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 31.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR. CARMEN LOWRY, Executive Director                                                                                            
Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA)                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 31.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
KEELEY OLSON, Executive Director                                                                                                
Stand Together Against Rape (STAR)                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 31.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:03:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  JONATHAN KREISS-TOMKINS  called  the  House State  Affairs                                                             
Standing   Committee    meeting   to    order   at    3:03   p.m.                                                               
Representatives Tuck,  Wool, Birch,  Johnson, Knopp,  and Kreiss-                                                               
Tomkins  were  present at  the  call  to order.    Representative                                                               
LeDoux arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
          HB 71-NO ST. EMPLOYEE PAY INCREASE FOR 2 YRS                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:05:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the first  order of business                                                               
would be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 71, "An  Act relating  to compensation,                                                               
merit   increases,  and   pay  increments   for  certain   public                                                               
officials,  officers, and  employees  not  covered by  collective                                                               
bargaining agreements; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:06:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHELDON  FISHER,   Commissioner,  Department   of  Administration                                                               
(DOA),  presented HB  71 on  behalf of  the House  Rules Standing                                                               
Committee, sponsor, by request of  the governor.  Mr. Fisher used                                                               
a  PowerPoint presentation,  titled "Salary  Freeze for  Nonunion                                                               
Employees,"  for  his presentation.    He  referred to  Slide  1,                                                               
titled "What Does  the Bill do?" and relayed  that the governor's                                                               
budget  included  a  pay  freeze for  employees  not  covered  by                                                               
collective  bargaining agreements.   He  noted that  the governor                                                               
also  requested   the  Department  of  Administration   (DOA)  to                                                               
negotiate  similar  language [as  in  HB  71]  with each  of  the                                                               
bargaining  units, as  agreements come  up for  negotiation.   He                                                               
maintained HB 71 was introduced  to respond to the state's fiscal                                                               
challenges.   He stated that  the governor expressed that  it was                                                               
appropriate  to freeze  the automatic  employee salary  increases                                                               
for a  period of time, considering  he has asked citizens  of the                                                               
state  to accept  a  reduced permanent  fund  distribution.   The                                                               
proposed legislation freezes the  Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)                                                               
for the nonunion employee group, and  he added that no COLAs have                                                               
been  given   in  the  current  administration.     The  proposed                                                               
legislation also  freezes merit  increase pay increments  and any                                                               
bonuses.   He  stated  that  HB 71  would  reduce the  governor's                                                               
salary by one-third.   He explained that the  governor could gift                                                               
a portion  of his  salary back  to the  state treasury  but would                                                               
have  to pay  taxes  on the  full  salary.   Through  HB 71,  the                                                               
governor would  avoid paying  taxes on the  amount he  returns to                                                               
the treasury.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:08:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FISHER, in  response  to Representative  Wool's request  for                                                               
clarification,  reiterated  that  the governor  would  receive  a                                                               
reduced salary  and would only  pay taxes on the  reduced amount.                                                               
He  said that  absent  HB 71,  the governor  would  be forced  to                                                               
receive  and pay  taxes  on  the full  amount,  then return  some                                                               
portion.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked if the "net" would be the same.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER  responded, "The net  could be orchestrated to  be the                                                               
same," but the  governor wished to reduce his salary  by a third,                                                               
and if he wants  his take-home pay to be the  same, it would have                                                               
to  be "something  less than  a third,"  and he  doesn't feel  he                                                               
should be paying  the federal government taxes on  some amount of                                                               
money that he is not receiving.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked, "What is the governor's salary?"                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER answered he believed it to be $150,000 per year.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH   asked  if  HB  71   would  affect  future                                                               
governors.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FISHER responded  that  HB  71 would  sunset  in two  years;                                                               
therefore,  it  would not  last  beyond  the governor's  term  of                                                               
office.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER continued  his presentation with Slide  2, titled "Who                                                               
Does the  Bill Include?"  He  said HB 71 would  include employees                                                               
not  covered  by  a  collective   bargaining  agreements  in  the                                                               
executive  branch,  and  employees of  boards,  commissions,  and                                                               
authorities.   He added  that it would  include employees  in the                                                               
legislative  branch, employees  at the  University of  Alaska not                                                               
covered  by  collective   bargaining  agreements,  the  governor,                                                               
lieutenant  governor,  department  heads, and  legislators.    He                                                               
stated that  it would  not include the  court system,  citing the                                                               
separation of powers as the reason.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER  turned to Slide 3,  titled "Why is the  Bill Needed?"                                                               
and offered  that merit  pay and pay  increments are  included in                                                               
statute;  therefore,  DOA  does   not  have  the  flexibility  to                                                               
implement  the freezes  absent legislation.   He  said, as  well,                                                               
that these  freezes were  part of  the governor's  budget package                                                               
and are intended to address  the [fiscal] shortfalls the state is                                                               
facing.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER  concluded with Slide  4, titled  "Estimated Savings,"                                                               
and  said  that HB  71  would  affect approximately  5,000  state                                                               
employees, or 23 percent of  the workforce, and over the two-year                                                               
period save about $4.2 million.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:12:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  why  including the  courts  was  a                                                               
separation  of powers  issue, but  including the  legislature was                                                               
not.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER explained that HB 71,  if enacted, would be a law that                                                               
was  adopted  by the  legislature  and  signed by  the  governor;                                                               
therefore,  both the  legislative  and  executive branches  would                                                               
have  accepted  the  legislation.   Since  the  court  system  is                                                               
outside this  process, he said, the  legal view is that  it would                                                               
be an  impermissible intrusion into  their operations  to include                                                               
them in the legislation.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked Mr. Fisher  if he was saying that the                                                               
legislature has  no say  in employee  compensation for  the court                                                               
system.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER said  that since the legislature  is the appropriating                                                               
body, appropriating the  court system's budget is  subject to its                                                               
discretion.   He said  he believed that  under the  separation of                                                               
powers,  there  are  limitations  on  the  extent  to  which  the                                                               
legislature  and  governor  can  collectively  work  together  to                                                               
manage or dictate salaries in the court system.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked,  "If you  chose not  to freeze  the                                                               
merit  increases, would  there be  anything that  would keep  you                                                               
from simply  changing the  range[s] of people?"   She  cited that                                                               
the  legislature capped  the  salary of  legislative  staff to  a                                                               
range  22, with  a  few exceptions,  in  the Twenty-Ninth  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature, 2015-2016.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:16:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BILL MILLS, Assistant Attorney General,  Department of Law (DOL),                                                               
said that  by statute,  the State  of Alaska  does have  a salary                                                               
cap, and  the ranges are  determined by the salary  schedule that                                                               
is   established  by   the  legislature.     The   administration                                                               
determines what jobs fit into  what ranges through classification                                                               
analyses.  He said, "Just saying  we want to save money and we'll                                                               
change a range, I'm not really  sure if that's something that the                                                               
executive  could  do."    He   reiterated  that  a  statute  does                                                               
establish the salary ranges.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked, "So nobody  who's ever been ... at a                                                               
range 23 has ever gone to a range 22 or a range 21?"                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER  responded he is  sure that has happened,  but offered                                                               
his understanding that what Mr. Mills  is saying is that in cases                                                               
where  it  has   happened,  it  is  consistent   with  the  merit                                                               
principles, such  as, the job  function changed.  He  stated what                                                               
he  believed  to  be  the  real question:    "Could  there  be  a                                                               
wholesale direction to  reduce salaries or cap and  would that be                                                               
consistent   with  the   merit  principle   established  in   the                                                               
constitution?"  He  added, "That would be the  analysis that we'd                                                               
have to think more seriously about."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:19:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP stated he had  a serious level of discomfort                                                               
with HB  71.  He opined  there were serious inequalities:   House                                                               
staff  at ranges  23 and  24 have  been moved  down to  range 22;                                                               
Senate staff ranges  have not been lowered;  and some departments                                                               
have negotiated wages with no step  and COLA increases.  He asked                                                               
if the  5,000 employees that would  be affected by HB  71 include                                                               
those across the university system and all departments.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FISHER responded  yes,  the 5,000  employees  that would  be                                                               
affected are in the executive  branch, the legislature, the other                                                               
corporations, and the university, but  the court system would not                                                               
be included.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP identified  other inequalities:   teachers,                                                               
represented by  bargaining units, would continue  to receive COLA                                                               
and merit increases,  but under HB 71,  university teachers would                                                               
not.  He offered, "This is not  a bad concept, but the problem is                                                               
it's  not   shared  equally   ...."     He  mentioned   that  the                                                               
administration  has  discussed   negotiating  freezes  in  future                                                               
collective bargaining  agreements, but  he opined that  there are                                                               
no guarantees.   He  asked if  the House  could enact  that there                                                               
would be no negotiated merit  or COLA increases in the collective                                                               
bargaining agreements for two years.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER said DOA negotiates  about one-third of the collective                                                               
bargaining agreements each  year.  He said that  any change takes                                                               
a  number  of  years  to   be  adopted  across  the  spectrum  of                                                               
bargaining units.  He opined,  "It's important to start somewhere                                                               
and  ...  it's  not  unreasonable to  start  with  our  uncovered                                                               
employees, as the  governor has proposed."  He  stated his belief                                                               
that the  legislature could dictate, by  statute, prohibiting DOA                                                               
from negotiating increases.  He added  that DOA brings all of the                                                               
collective  bargaining  agreements  to the  legislature  for  its                                                               
approval.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:23:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL queried why fiscal  year 2019 (FY 19) savings                                                               
were less than those of FY 18 [as shown on Slide 4.]                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER  said the reason  was that pay increments  are awarded                                                               
every year but merit increments every other year.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL requested  clarification  that  HB 71  would                                                               
result  in a  freeze and  not range  reductions, as  mentioned by                                                               
Representative LeDoux.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER  responded yes, under HB  71, there would be  a freeze                                                               
of their salaries.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  if other  groups  of state  employees                                                               
have been  subject to  a salary freeze  since the  current fiscal                                                               
crisis began.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER answered no, this is  the first salary freeze that DOA                                                               
has introduced.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked  if the group of  employees referred to                                                               
in  HB  71   was  the  only  group  not   subject  to  collective                                                               
bargaining.   He  also asked  if other  state employees,  such as                                                               
teachers   and  university   professors,  are   under  collective                                                               
bargaining  agreements; therefore,  imposing a  salary freeze  on                                                               
them would be harder.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER said yes, the  majority of state employees are subject                                                               
to collective  bargaining; therefore, DOA has  been instructed by                                                               
the  governor  to negotiate  a  comparable  freeze as  collective                                                               
bargaining agreements are up for re-negotiation.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:26:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  said that  if 5,000 employees  represent 23                                                               
percent  of  the  total employment  population,  then  the  total                                                               
employee population  would be about  21,700.   He went on  to say                                                               
that if a  salary freeze for 23 percent of  employees would yield                                                               
$4.2 million in  savings, then a freeze applied  to all employees                                                               
would save  an amount approaching $20  million.  He urged  DOA to                                                               
negotiate a  salary freeze for  all of  the labor contracts.   He                                                               
asked  if the  eleven collective  bargaining agreements  have all                                                               
been negotiated, or if they are coming up for negotiation.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER  answered that DOA  is currently in  negotiations with                                                               
the Public Safety Employees Association  (PSEA), the three Alaska                                                               
Marine Highway bargaining units,  the Alaska Vocational Technical                                                               
Center   Teachers'  Association   (AVTECTA),   and  the   Teacher                                                               
Education Association  of Mt. Edgecumbe  (TEAME).  He  said there                                                               
will be more agreements negotiated next year.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:27:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  asked  how  the court  system's  wages  and                                                               
benefits are determined.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER responded  that the court system adopts  its own rules                                                               
and policies for wages and benefits.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked  if the rules and policies  were set by                                                               
regulation.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER  said he didn't  know and would provide  the committee                                                               
with information  as to  whether it  is through  a handbook  or a                                                               
formal regulatory process.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK cited  Article XII, Section 6,  of the Alaska                                                               
State Constitution  and read, "The legislature  shall establish a                                                               
system  under   which  the  merit   principle  will   govern  the                                                               
employment of persons by the State."   He stated, "The question I                                                               
have is the  definition of merit."  He offered  that if employees                                                               
are  not  under a  collective  bargaining  agreement, then  merit                                                               
means a salary  could "go up or  go down."  He asked,  "How is it                                                               
that  you wouldn't  be  able  to do  that  already  based on  the                                                               
constitution?"                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FISHER  stated  his understanding  that  the  question  was:                                                               
"Could we  freeze people at a  particular level?"  He  brought up                                                               
an example  of a highly skilled  doctor whose range 29  salary is                                                               
frozen at  a range 20, which  is comparable to someone  with much                                                               
less education  and skill.  He  said the question implied  by the                                                               
clause Representative  Tuck read  is:   "Are we  being consistent                                                               
with the merit principle if we  treat those two people at a range                                                               
20  and don't  acknowledge the  additional education,  skill, and                                                               
capabilities  of  that doctor,  in  this  example?"   Mr.  Fisher                                                               
relayed  that  he   is  not  denying  that  DOA   could  do  what                                                               
Representative Tuck  suggested but  reiterated Mr.  Mills's point                                                               
regarding  a  more sophisticated  analysis  to  determine if  the                                                               
merit principle is being followed.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  offered that  the legislature would  have to                                                               
look to case law definition  on merit principle.  He acknowledged                                                               
the separation  between the legislative branch  and the executive                                                               
branch.  He  asked since the legislature oversees  the budget for                                                               
all three branches, why under  the merit system general provision                                                               
court system  employees would be excluded,  when the constitution                                                               
says "will govern the employment of persons by the State."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FISHER gave  an example  to explain  the basic  principle of                                                               
separation of  powers as it related  to the court.   He asked the                                                               
committee to  imagine a  scenario where  the legislature  did not                                                               
like the  opinions that were  being issued by the  Alaska Supreme                                                               
Court and concluded that Alaska  Supreme Court justices should be                                                               
paid a dollar per year.   He said even though the legislature has                                                               
appropriated ample  money to the  court system, the  court system                                                               
still  needs to  have flexibility  to manage  its own  affairs in                                                               
order  to remain  independent of  the  legislative and  executive                                                               
branches.    He added  that  the  court system  has  aggressively                                                               
managed costs, including reduced salary and hours.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  conceded  that   a  similar  situation  has                                                               
occurred between the executive  and legislative branches, wherein                                                               
the legislature,  not liking a  governor's appointment,  tried to                                                               
"zero out"  the appointee's  position control  number (PCN).   He                                                               
wondered  aloud  how  the  separation can  be  made  between  the                                                               
judicial and  legislative branches but not  between the executive                                                               
and legislative branches.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:34:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked what portions  of HB 71,  in regard                                                               
to salary  freezes and  salary reduction,  are already  under the                                                               
governor's control.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER answered  that the governor cannot  institute a salary                                                               
freeze without proposed legislation.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON asked  if the  governor could  accomplish                                                               
what is proposed  in HB 71 internally, because the  merit pay can                                                               
go "up or down."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FISHER responded  that the  merit  pay is  a defined  amount                                                               
based  on employee  performance, and  there is  no discretion  as                                                               
currently structured.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:36:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX referred to  Mr. Fisher's example about the                                                               
Alaska  Supreme  Court justices  and  expressed  her belief  that                                                               
judges' salaries are constitutionally  guaranteed for the time of                                                               
their service.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER repeated the basic  principle of separation of powers,                                                               
as it relates to HB 71. If passed,  HB 71 would be adopted by the                                                               
legislature  and  signed  by  the  executive  branch;  therefore,                                                               
application  of HB  71 to  those  two branches  of government  is                                                               
appropriate  and   doesn't  offend   the  separation   of  powers                                                               
principle  in the  constitution.   He  added that  to extend  the                                                               
statute  to  include   the  court  system  would   be  viewed  as                                                               
troublesome,  because  the  court  system  is  not  part  of  the                                                               
legislative process and has no way to protect itself.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
[HB 71 was held over.]                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
            HB 7-DISPLAY OF PHOTOS OF MARKED BALLOT                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:38:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that  the next order  of business                                                               
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 7,  "An Act relating to the exhibition of                                                               
marked ballots."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:39:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ALICIA  NORTON,  Intern,  Representative  Kreiss-Tomkins,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, presented  HB 7  on behalf  of Representative                                                               
Kreiss-Tomkins, prime sponsor.   She stated that "ballot selfies"                                                               
are  currently illegal  in the  state of  Alaska.   She explained                                                               
that "ballot selfie" refers to  a picture taken of oneself within                                                               
the voting  booth.  She  said that  the goal of  HB 7 is  to make                                                               
ballot selfies legal.   She relayed that ballot  selfies could be                                                               
an expression  of support - for  a candidate, a cause,  or voting                                                               
in  general.    She  said  that Alaska's  law  is  not  currently                                                               
rigorously  enforced; therefore,  there would  not be  a dramatic                                                               
change  to the  status  quo.   She related  that  bans on  ballot                                                               
selfies  have  already  been ruled  unconstitutional  in  several                                                               
other states,  and passage of HB  7 would allow Alaska  to follow                                                               
the  trend  across the  U.S.    She  said  that the  Division  of                                                               
Elections  (DOE) raised  concerns  regarding  the prohibition  of                                                               
electioneering, and  staff is currently working  with Legislative                                                               
Legal and Research  Services to create language  to address those                                                               
concerns.  She mentioned that an amendment will be forthcoming.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:41:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked  Ms. Norton if she  has identified any                                                               
concerted opposition to HB 7.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORTON mentioned  that one person has  expressed concern with                                                               
vote  buying and  asked  if ballot  selfies  would be  considered                                                               
advertising  under the  Alaska Public  Offices Commission  (APOC)                                                               
regulations.    Ms.  Norton  said   she  was  looking  into  that                                                               
possibility.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:41:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked  if it is currently against  the law to                                                               
take a  picture of yourself  with the  ballot or just  the ballot                                                               
alone.   He asked if  a ballot selfie  was a picture  of yourself                                                               
with the ballot.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORTON responded that a ballot  selfie is a photo of yourself                                                               
with your ballot.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked if it was  stated in statute that it is                                                               
illegal to take a picture of yourself with your ballot.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORTON responded  that statute does not state  that you can't                                                               
take a ballot selfie but states  you are not allowed to show your                                                               
ballot to another person.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked if  it is  against the  law to  show a                                                               
picture  of  his  completed  ballot,  without  his  face  in  the                                                               
picture, to someone else.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORTON responded  yes, but it would be legal  if HB 7 becomes                                                               
law.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  asked  if  anyone has  been  prosecuted  in                                                               
Alaska  for  the  crime  of showing  his/her  ballot  to  another                                                               
person.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORTON answered  that she wasn't completely sure,  but has no                                                               
knowledge of anyone being prosecuted for that crime.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  if Ms.  Norton knew  if anyone  had                                                               
been prosecuted in another state.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORTON responded  that a Colorado women was  prosecuted for a                                                               
ballot selfie.   The  woman filed  a suit  claiming her  right to                                                               
free speech was violated.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked about the outcome of the suit.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORTON  said the  ruling was  in the woman's  favor.   It was                                                               
determined to be an infringement of her freedom of speech.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:44:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK stated  that the  ban of  ballot selfies  is                                                               
currently  an  electioneering  prohibition.    He  asked  if  the                                                               
original  intent of  the ban  was related  to the  prohibition on                                                               
campaigning and  campaign materials within  a 200-foot zone  of a                                                               
polling location.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORTON responded yes.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:46:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  offered that a  ballot selfie could  be used                                                               
as proof  of a  vote in  the case of  vote buying.   He  asked if                                                               
walking around with a picture of  your ballot on your phone would                                                               
be an electioneering violation or an expression of free speech.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. NORTON  answered that  an amendment  will be  introduced that                                                               
would  prevent people  from taking  photos of  their ballots  and                                                               
presenting them  within the polling  place or within 200  feet of                                                               
the polling place.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:48:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REID MAGDANZ, Staff,  Representative Kreiss-Tomkins, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  on behalf  of Representative  Kreiss-Tomkins, prime                                                               
sponsor  of HB  7, said  that  the Alaska  Division of  Elections                                                               
suggested that HB  7, as written, allowed for  the possibility of                                                               
the  ballot selfie  being shared  within the  polling place.   He                                                               
reiterated  that the  forthcoming  amendment  would clarify  that                                                               
showing  the ballot  selfie within  200 feet  of a  polling place                                                               
would still be prohibited.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:49:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked how  someone within the polling place                                                               
with a cell phone could be  prevented from seeing a ballot selfie                                                               
of someone outside the polling place.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAGDANZ said  that it  is  certainly a  possibility, as  are                                                               
other possibilities, such as seeing  a Facebook post while in the                                                               
polling  place.    He  mentioned   that  the  drafters  of  HB  7                                                               
considered  those possibilities  to  be in  line with  protecting                                                               
free speech.   He added that if the committee  has concerns, HB 7                                                               
could be amended accordingly.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:50:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP asked  if it  is illegal  to display  one's                                                               
completed ballot  while walking across  the polling place  to the                                                               
ballot box.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAGDANZ  confirmed that is  illegal and would  remain illegal                                                               
under HB 7.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
[HB 7 was held over.]                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
             HB 31-SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION KITS                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:51:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the final  order of business                                                               
would be HOUSE  BILL NO. 31, "An Act requiring  the Department of                                                               
Public Safety  to develop  a tracking  system and  collection and                                                               
processing   protocol  for   sexual  assault   examination  kits;                                                               
requiring  law  enforcement  agencies   to  send  sexual  assault                                                               
examination kits  for testing within 18  months after collection;                                                               
requiring  an inventory  and reports  on untested  sexual assault                                                               
examination kits; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:52:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GERAN TARR,  Alaska State  Legislature, presented                                                               
HB 31,  as prime sponsor.   She testified  that just a  few weeks                                                               
ago, serial  rapist Clifford  Lee was sentenced  to 90  years for                                                               
four rapes and  one attempted rape, occurring in 2014.   She said                                                               
Mr.  Lee  had a  long  history  of systematically  targeting  and                                                               
raping disadvantaged women.  She  added that the deoxyribonucleic                                                               
acid  (DNA) testing  of a  rape kit  tied Mr.  Lee to  additional                                                               
unsolved rapes occurring  in 2001 and 2005.  She  stated that for                                                               
16  years  Mr.  Lee,  a  dangerous criminal,  had  been  in  "our                                                               
community"  possibly   harming  other  victims.     She  referred                                                               
committee  members  to an  article  about  Mr.  Lee in  the  bill                                                               
packet.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. TARR  pointed out, "This is  just the most recent  story that                                                               
brutally reminds us  of Alaska's epidemic of sexual  assault.  It                                                               
reminds  us  of  our  responsibility  to  victims  to  diligently                                                               
collect and  process evidence to  bring violators to  justice and                                                               
remove  perpetrators  from our  communities."    She stated  that                                                               
Alaska currently has a backlog of  3,600 untested rape kits.  She                                                               
claimed  it is  an enormous  disrespect to  the victims  who have                                                               
endured the  trauma of sexual  assault and have taken  the effort                                                               
to be  tested, only  to have  the evidence  be disregarded.   She                                                               
offered that she  respects the right of victims to  choose not to                                                               
press charges  to avoid additional  trauma, but claimed  that the                                                               
intent of  HB 31 is  to give victims  the right to  press charges                                                               
and have  the DNA  from the  rape kits  entered into  a [tracking                                                               
system] database to  use for solving other crimes.   She declared                                                               
that  Alaska communities  remain at  risk if  rapists, who  could                                                               
have been identified by the DNA evidence, escape justice.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. TARR stated that Alaska  consistently ranks among the highest                                                               
in  the  nation for  rates  of  rape  and  sexual assault.    She                                                               
offered,  "We must  do  everything  we can  to  turn around  this                                                               
epidemic."   She  said that  in 2015,  she was  proud to  sponsor                                                               
House  Bill 117,  regarding Alaska's  backlog  of sexual  assault                                                               
examination kits.   She stated she applauds  Governor Bill Walker                                                               
and  his staff  who,  at  that time,  "took  on  this issue"  and                                                               
successfully  procured  a  $1.1  million  federal  Department  of                                                               
Justice  (DOJ)  grant to  inventory  and  process the  backlogged                                                               
kits.   She offered that  HB 31 would  establish a new  system to                                                               
avoid  a  backlog,  as  currently  exists.   She  said  that  the                                                               
proposed  legislation  would  establish a  uniform  protocol  for                                                               
processing  rape kits,  which will  assist Alaska's  200-plus law                                                               
enforcement  agencies to  consistently  collect  and process  the                                                               
sensitive evidence  in a timely  manner.  She mentioned  that the                                                               
new system  would require the  rape kits  be sent for  testing no                                                               
later than 18  months after the sexual assault  examination.  She                                                               
added that  HB 31 would  require the Department of  Public Safety                                                               
(DPS) to report on the number  of untested rape kits, in order to                                                               
avoid a  large backlog.   She offered that the  approach outlined                                                               
in HB  31 is part  of a national  effort.   It has been  shown in                                                               
states  across  the  country  that  obtaining  the  DNA  evidence                                                               
catches  dangerous criminals  and makes  communities safer.   She                                                               
concluded  that in  an  effort  to give  victims  justice, HB  31                                                               
should be passed.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. TARR  referred to a  packet of letters  in support of  HB 31,                                                               
which came from individual Alaskans  across the state, the Alaska                                                               
Network  on Domestic  Violence and  Sexual Assault  (ANDVSA), and                                                               
other women's  organizations familiar  with the impact  of sexual                                                               
assault and associated trauma.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. TARR  said that HB  31 would  create a standard  protocol for                                                               
processing  rape kits,  and a  database for  tracking them.   She                                                               
referred  to  the  fiscal  note,  which  includes  a  link  to  a                                                               
description  of the  sexual assault  kit  tracking and  inventory                                                               
management  system.   The  fiscal  note  shows  a cost  of  about                                                               
$100,000  for the  tracking system.   She  added that  additional                                                               
staff would  be needed to  meet the requirements  of HB 31.   She                                                               
stressed,  "Even in  lean budget  times, these  are dollars  very                                                               
well  spent."    She  conceded  that  many  sexual  assaults  are                                                               
committed by an  individual the victim knows, but as  in the case                                                               
of Mr. Lee,  women were attacked and brutalized  in the traumatic                                                               
rape by a  stranger.  She noted  how difficult it must  be for an                                                               
individual to overcome such an  event.  She said, "People's lives                                                               
often fall apart and people commit  suicide - they end their life                                                               
from  that  kind of  trauma."    She  admitted that  $260,000  is                                                               
difficult to consider  in the current budget  crises but offered,                                                               
"If  we can  save  any  one victim,  I  think,  its dollars  well                                                               
spent."                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:57:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked why there  is such a large backlog and                                                               
how old the [unprocessed] rape kits are.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  offered two  reasons for  the backlog.   She                                                               
said rape kits are sent  out to law enforcement organizations but                                                               
are not tracked; therefore, it is  difficult to know if they have                                                               
been "lost  along the way."   She  said that another  reason rape                                                               
kits  have not  been tested  is  that many  sexual assault  cases                                                               
involve  a known  perpetrator.   She  went on  to  say that  even                                                               
though the DNA  evidence may not be relevant in  these cases, the                                                               
perpetrator may have been involved  in other crimes.  She offered                                                               
that including  the DNA evidence  in the database could  link the                                                               
perpetrator to another crime.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  stated that  some of  the untested  kits "go                                                               
back years."  She conceded  that an individual might request that                                                               
the kit  not be  tested.   She noted  the suffering  some victims                                                               
experience after such  a traumatic event and said  that some just                                                               
choose to  "move on."   She  said that facing  the set  of events                                                               
involved  with  pressing charges  -  the  multi-year court  case,                                                               
follow-up   testing,   testifying   in   court   -   might   seem                                                               
insurmountable for  some victims.   She  concluded that  with the                                                               
passage of HB  31, "we can protect that victim  and give them the                                                               
space and  path forward,  while also using  the DNA  evidence for                                                               
its intended purpose."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  expressed  his   support  for  HB  31  and                                                               
mentioned his constituent, Bonnie Craig,  involved in a case that                                                               
was "cold"  for years,  which was  ultimately solved  through the                                                               
DNA of  someone "half a continent  away."  He expressed  his hope                                                               
that  the backlog  was  not continuing  to  accrue, and  welcomed                                                               
comments from DPS on that matter.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  responded  that the  current  backlog  [for                                                               
unprocessed rape  kits in Alaska] is  3,600.  She went  on to say                                                               
such  a backlog  is  not  uncommon among  states  and a  national                                                               
effort emerged to  respond to the issue.  She  started working on                                                               
this issue in  2015, after receiving information  from a national                                                               
organization,  called End  the Backlog.    She said  that at  the                                                               
time,  Alaska did  not have  good  information on  the number  of                                                               
backlogged  rape kits.    She said  that at  the  same time,  DOJ                                                               
recognized  this  issue as  a  critical  public safety  need  and                                                               
developed a grant program to  help states process their backlogs.                                                               
She said  the first step  in applying for funding  was completing                                                               
an audit to  define the extent of the backlog  problem and, thus,                                                               
the  need  for  grant  funds.    She  relayed  that  a  bill  was                                                               
initiated;  Governor Walker  carried the  initiative forward  and                                                               
worked with law  enforcement agencies to complete  the audit; and                                                               
DPS  was able  to submit  the grant  application and  receive the                                                               
$1.1  million grant.   She  said the  grant should  help DPS  get                                                               
through the existing backlog of 3,600  rape kits, and HB 31 would                                                               
set time parameters for the ongoing processing of rape kits.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:03:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CAPTAIN DAN  LOWDEN, Deputy Commander,  Division of  Alaska State                                                               
Troopers  (AST), Department  of Public  Safety (DPS),  reiterated                                                               
the  various reasons  for  the  backlog of  rape  kits:   victims                                                               
choose not to press charges;  the perpetrator is known; and cases                                                               
are "pled  out" before kits  are tested.   He offered  his belief                                                               
that no  rape kits  went untested  due to  disinterest.   He said                                                               
when the rape kits were  administered, they were often thought of                                                               
as for  an individual case.   He offered that with  cases such as                                                               
the one  Representative Tarr  cited, DPS  is realizing  there are                                                               
serial perpetrators who are missed if  kits go untested.  He said                                                               
DPS supports HB 31.  He  stated, "We believe that by testing more                                                               
kits, we will catch more people."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  asked about opposition  to HB 31.   He also                                                               
asked  if  for  cases  involving  known  perpetrators,  rape  kit                                                               
testing is considered unnecessary.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CAPTAIN LOWDEN  answered that there  are rules for how  long rape                                                               
kits are retained.   He said he suspects that  cost may have been                                                               
a  factor  in  cases,  for  example,  when  the  perpetrator  was                                                               
convicted before the rape kit was  processed.  He opined that the                                                               
thought processes [for processing rape  kits] have now changed in                                                               
recognition that the information could help in other cases.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:07:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  referred to a phrase  in HB 31, on  page 2,                                                               
line  1, which  read: "18  months after  collection."   He asked,                                                               
"Why 18 months ...?"   He also asked if there  is a timeframe for                                                               
getting the results of the test back.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   TARR  responded   that  after   consulting  with                                                               
prosecutors,  she chose  a timeframe  that would  fit within  the                                                               
timeframe needed  to gather  enough evidence to  bring a  case to                                                               
trial.  She  would support a shorter timeframe,  but offered that                                                               
this timeframe  fits the  fiscal note  appropriation.   She added                                                               
that HB  31 calls for hiring  a fulltime staff person,  which she                                                               
suspects would  allow DPS  to process  rape kits  in house.   She                                                               
stated  her  understanding  that  currently some  rape  kits  are                                                               
processed in state,  but kits processed with  federal grant money                                                               
would be sent out of state for processing.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  said  he  is  interested  in  the  current                                                               
schedule  for processing  rape  kits.   He  said that  processing                                                               
3,600 kits  would take nine and  a half years, at  a process rate                                                               
of one  kit per day.   He asked if  DPS is processing a  rape kit                                                               
every day and if it has a 10-year backlog.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  said that  the federal  grant funds  will be                                                               
critical to the  effort of processing the backlog,  and many more                                                               
kits  will be  processed  much  faster than  one  per  day.   She                                                               
pointed out that the effective date  of HB 31 would be January 1,                                                               
2018,  which would  give DPS  time  to work  through the  backlog                                                               
before that  effective date.   She expressed her hope  that there                                                               
would  be  a seamless  transition  from  completing the  work  of                                                               
processing the  backlog to meeting  the requirement of HB  31, if                                                               
passed.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  rephrased his  question  to  ask what  the                                                               
3,600 kit  backlog represents  in processing  time, that  is, the                                                               
rate of processing kits.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  requested the  representatives from  DPS to                                                               
provide that information.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:12:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL referred  to the  letter from  the Tennessee                                                               
Coalition to  End Domestic  & Sexual  Violence, in  the committee                                                               
packet,  which  cites  the  processing of  a  backlog  of  12,000                                                               
untested rape  kits.  It also  mentioned a law requiring  kits to                                                               
be tested  in 60  days, or  for the  person who  did not  want to                                                               
press charges,  put into  a hold  for three years.   He  asked if                                                               
currently all rape  kits in Alaska are tested in  state or out of                                                               
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR replied  a  combination of  both, and  added                                                               
that [place of testing] is  determined by the complexities of the                                                               
evidence collected and the specific  analysis capabilities in the                                                               
DPS laboratory  versus more sophisticated  analysis Outside.   In                                                               
response  to  Representative  Knopp's  question,  she  said,  "If                                                               
you've got the money to pay  for it, there are scientists who can                                                               
process this evidence."  She  said that once the capacity exists,                                                               
the processing can be done faster.   She offered that the backlog                                                               
would be  processed in a  shorter time frame than  that described                                                               
by Representative Knopp.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked for the cost of processing a rape kit.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR referred to page  2 of the fiscal note, which                                                               
cites a cost of  about $1,500 per kit.  She  stated that would be                                                               
the standard cost.   She reminded the committee that  the cost of                                                               
processing the backlog is not  included in the fiscal note, since                                                               
that would be covered by the  federal grant.  She offered that HB                                                               
31  would improve  the training  and overall  processing of  rape                                                               
kits.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:15:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH asked  if the  high  cost is  due to  legal                                                               
issues, such as chain of custody.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR answered  yes,  and referred  to the  fiscal                                                               
note, page 2,  third paragraph, which states  the tracking system                                                               
would cost about $96,000.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL pointed  out  that 3,000  backlog kits  that                                                               
cost $1,500  each to  process amounts  to considerable  expense -                                                               
$4.5  million -  and  reiterated  that the  fiscal  note did  not                                                               
address that issue, which is a separate financing need.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR agreed.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:16:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS opened public testimony on HB 31.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:16:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CRYSTAL  GODBY,  Community  United   for  Safety  and  Protection                                                               
(CUSP),  explained  that  the Community  United  for  Safety  and                                                               
Protection (CUSP) is  a group of current and  former sex workers,                                                               
sex trafficking  victims, and allies.   She said CUSP  is working                                                               
to protect  everyone in Alaska's  sex industry.   She paraphrased                                                               
from  the  following   written  testimony  [original  punctuation                                                               
provided]:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     We  would like  to  extend out  full  support for  this                                                                    
     important  House Bill.    Perpetrators  must know  that                                                                    
     they  are  going  to   suffer  consequences  for  their                                                                    
     heinous crimes  because rape kits  are no  longer going                                                                    
     to be hidden away as the lowest priorities.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska will  never stop being  the rape capital  of the                                                                    
     United States as  long as we don't even  have rape kits                                                                    
     prioritized  to process  and  then  match results  with                                                                    
     state  and  national  data bases  to  hold  accountable                                                                    
     those  responsible  in  a  timely  manner.    In  2014,                                                                    
     Detroit  identified 188  serial  rapists by  processing                                                                    
     just 1,600 rape kits out of their much larger backlog.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     In December  of 2016,  Community United for  Safety and                                                                    
     Protection had Hays Research  firm in Anchorage conduct                                                                    
     a   survey   of   904   Alaskan   voters'   priorities.                                                                    
     Processing Alaska's  backlog of  rape kits was  a close                                                                    
     second priority to investigating  cases of murdered and                                                                    
     missing  sex  workers, with  36%  listing  it as  their                                                                    
     first  priority  and 37%  listing  it  as their  second                                                                    
     priority ....                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Clearly, Alaskans take this issue  seriously and are in                                                                    
     agreement with the passing of HB 31.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:18:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CARMEN  LOWRY,  Ph.D.,  Executive  Director,  Alaska  Network  on                                                               
Domestic  Violence  and  Sexual  Assault  (ANDVSA),  stated  that                                                               
ANDVSA represents  18 member programs  across the state,  most of                                                               
which  provide  shelter and  emergency  services  to victims  and                                                               
survivors of  domestic violence  and sexual  assault.   She noted                                                               
the six affiliate members, who are  also part of the large ANDVSA                                                               
network.   She  said  that  ANDVSA fully  supports  HB  31.   She                                                               
asserted   that  HB   31  raises   the   accountability  of   law                                                               
enforcement,   sexual   assault   response  teams   (SART),   and                                                               
taxpayers.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR. LOWRY cited  three reasons for ANDVSA support of  HB 31.  She                                                               
claimed  that as  SART members  perform examinations  and collect                                                               
data and  evidence for  prosecution, there must  be a  system for                                                               
tracking rape kits, to understand  the backlog problem.  She said                                                               
the second reason  is "efficiency"; how to  become more efficient                                                               
and where  to focus resources.   She  stated the third  reason is                                                               
"effectiveness";  enactment  of  HB  31   would  lead  to  better                                                               
prosecution.   She said her  final point addressed  balancing the                                                               
state's need to track rape  examination kits with victims' rights                                                               
to choose  whether or  not to  prosecute.  She  said HB  31 would                                                               
promote respect for  the process of gathering  evidence, which is                                                               
intensive, intimate,  and invasive,  and ensure that  victims are                                                               
respected.   She said, "The  message is when  we do this  kind of                                                               
evidence  gathering through  a  rape  examination kit,  something                                                               
will come from it."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH noted the  challenges of smaller communities                                                               
in regard to  gathering evidence after an assault  charge, and he                                                               
asked about custody of the rape kit.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DR.  LOWRY   said  she  didn't   know  but  would   provide  that                                                               
information to the committee.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:26:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEELEY  OLSON, Executive  Director, Stand  Together Against  Rape                                                               
(STAR), testified  in support of  HB 31 on  behalf of STAR.   She                                                               
claimed  that  the  proposed   legislation  represents  the  best                                                               
standard practice recognized nationwide.   She said that after an                                                               
audit  of the  current backlog,  it  is critical  to determine  a                                                               
consistent process  for all law  enforcement agencies  across the                                                               
state.   She  said  that HB  31 would  answer  all the  important                                                               
questions raised  by the committee  members.  She  mentioned that                                                               
there are  many jurisdictions throughout  the state that  have an                                                               
alternative   reporting   mechanism,   called   non-investigative                                                               
reports.   She said that in  these cases, the victim  undergoes a                                                               
forensic  examination, and  the  evidence is  saved  in case  the                                                               
victim chooses  to proceed with a  law enforcement investigation.                                                               
She offered  that these rape  kits are collected by  the examiner                                                               
with an  advocate present,  but no  law enforcement  personnel is                                                               
notified.  She  said a victim of sexual assault  may come forward                                                               
at  any time  to file  an anonymous  report and  request to  have                                                               
his/her case  opened up for  full investigation.  She  stated the                                                               
importance  of  not  coercing  victims   to  participate  in  the                                                               
criminal legal process against their will.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  asked if  for some  rape kits,  victims may                                                               
choose not  to submit them to  law enforcement, and the  kits are                                                               
put into a holding place.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. OLSON  responded yes.   She  said the reason  for that  is to                                                               
provide options to victims who  are hesitant to "come forward" or                                                               
intimidated by  the process but  recognize the need  for evidence                                                               
to be collected  in a timely manner to reserve  the right to open                                                               
those cases  to investigation.   She added  alternative reporting                                                               
has resulted in "some very  successful prosecutions" as a result.                                                               
She  mentioned this  mechanism  is a  provision  of the  Violence                                                               
Against Women Act (VAWA) [of 1994].                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS said he will  leave public testimony open on                                                               
HB 31.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
[HB 31 was held over.]                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:32:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
State Affairs  Standing Committee  meeting was adjourned  at 4:32                                                               
p.m.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB031 ver A 1.26.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 31
HB031 Sponsor Statement 1.26.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 31
HB031 Supporting Document-Support Letter 1.26.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 31
HB031 Supporting Document-Support Letter 1.26.17 (1).PDF HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 31
HB031 Additional Documents-1.26.17.PDF HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 31
HB007SponsorStatement1.23.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB007 Supporting Document-Article Denver Post 1.23.17.pdf HCRA 2/18/2017 10:00:00 AM
HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 7
HHB007 Supporting Document-Article Columbia University 1.23.17.pdf HCRA 2/18/2017 10:00:00 AM
HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB007 Supporting Document-Article Washington Post 1.23.17.pdf HCRA 2/18/2017 10:00:00 AM
HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB007 Supporting Documents-Article NSCL 1.23.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB 71 Hearing Request 1.24.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 71
HB 71 Sponsor Statement 1.24.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 71
HB 71 Sectional Analysis 1.24.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 71
HB0071A 1.24.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 71
HB 71 Fiscal Note 1.24.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 71
HB31-Supporting Documents 1.30.17.PDF HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 31
HB31-Supporting letter-1.30.17.PDF HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 31
DOA HB71 Salary Freeze Final STA.PDF HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 71
HB007 Fiscal Note 1.28.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB031 Fiscal Note 1.28.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 31
HB007 ver A 1.31.17.PDF HCRA 2/18/2017 10:00:00 AM
HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB007 Sectional Analysis ver A 2.1.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB007 Supporting Documents-Article NSCL 2.1.17.pdf HSTA 1/31/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 7