Legislature(2019 - 2020)CAPITOL 106

04/30/2019 08:00 AM TRIBAL AFFAIRS

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08:06:30 AM Start
08:07:30 AM Presentation(s): the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis
08:54:53 AM HB142
09:12:03 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
*+ A Resolution urging the United States Congress TELECONFERENCED
to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of
1994 without an exemption for tribal governments
in the state and to support Savanna's Act and
highlight the crisis of missing and murdered
Indigenous women.
<Pending Introduction & Referral>
+ Presentation: The Missing & Murdered Indigenous TELECONFERENCED
Women Crisis
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
           HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON TRIBAL AFFAIRS                                                                          
                         April 30, 2019                                                                                         
                           8:06 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky, Chair                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
Representative Dave Talerico                                                                                                    
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Bryce Edgmon, Vice Chair                                                                                         
Representative John Lincoln                                                                                                     
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
Representative Zack Fields                                                                                                      
Representative Andi Story                                                                                                       
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION(S): THE MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN                                                                      
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 142                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to Alaska Native organizations; relating to the                                                                
village public safety officer program; and relating to the                                                                      
Alaska temporary assistance program."                                                                                           
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 142                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: NATIVE ORGANIZATIONS VPSO & TANF PROGRAMS                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) KREISS-TOMKINS                                                                                    
04/22/19       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/22/19       (H)       TRB, JUD                                                                                               
04/30/19       (H)       TRB AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
MICHELLE DEMMERT, Law and Policy Consultant                                                                                     
Alaska Native Women's Resource Center; Chief Justice                                                                            
Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska                                                                
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided a PowerPoint presentation                                                                       
entitled, "Legislative Update" dated 4/30/19.                                                                                   
AREN SPARCK, Government Affairs Officer                                                                                         
Seattle Indian Health Board                                                                                                     
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony during the presentation                                                               
on the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls crisis.                                                                  
RICHARD PETERSON, President                                                                                                     
Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony during the presentation                                                               
on the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls crisis.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE JONATHAN KREISS-TOMKINS                                                                                          
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Speaking as the sponsor, introduced HB 142.                                                              
JOHN SCANLON, Staff                                                                                                             
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  On behalf of Representative Kreiss-Tomkins,                                                              
sponsor of HB 142, provided testimony and answered questions                                                                    
during the hearing of the bill.                                                                                                 
ANDREW MERRILL, Captain, Commander                                                                                              
"C" Detachment                                                                                                                  
VPSO Program                                                                                                                    
Division of Alaska State Troopers                                                                                               
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the hearing of HB
RICHARD PETERSON, President                                                                                                     
Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Answered a  question and  provided invited                                                             
testimony during the hearing of HB 142.                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:06:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  TIFFANY ZULKOSKY  called  the House  Special Committee  on                                                             
Tribal Affairs  meeting to  order at  8:06 a.m.   Representatives                                                               
Talerico, Ortiz, Vance, and Zulkosky  were present at the call to                                                               
order.  Also present were Representatives Fields and Story.                                                                     
^PRESENTATION(S):  The  Missing  and  Murdered  Indigenous  Women                                                               
   PRESENTATION(S): The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women                                                               
8:07:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY announced  the first order of business  would be a                                                               
PowerPoint presentation on missing  and murdered indigenous women                                                               
and girls provided by the  Alaska Native Women's Resource Center,                                                               
followed  by  additional testimony  by  the  Urban Indian  Health                                                               
Institute  of the  Seattle Indian  Health Board  and the  Central                                                               
Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.                                                                       
8:08:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHELLE  DEMMERT,  Law  and  Policy  Consultant,  Alaska  Native                                                               
Women's  Resource Center  and Chief  Justice, Central  Council of                                                               
the  Tlingit  and  Haida  Indian Tribes  of  Alaska,  provided  a                                                               
PowerPoint  presentation  entitled,  "Legislative Update."    Ms.                                                               
Demmert  said she  was speaking  on behalf  of the  Alaska Native                                                               
Women's Resource  Center (AKNWRC)  on the  crisis of  missing and                                                               
murdered  indigenous women  (MMIW)  and  related pending  federal                                                               
legislation.  She directed attention to  slide 3 and said MMIW is                                                               
a far  too common  occurrence that  has recently  received public                                                               
attention; however,  MMIW occurrences  have happened  since first                                                               
contact  with  outsiders  coming onto  indigenous  Alaska  lands.                                                               
Many women  and girls have  suffered abuse  and death due  to the                                                               
government's failure of its legal  trust and moral responsibility                                                               
to  assist indigenous  nations in  safeguarding  their women  and                                                               
children.   Many of  the challenges  in protecting  Alaska Native                                                               
women and children  are a lack of safe  shelters, law enforcement                                                               
and  medical services,  or  any type  of help  to  deal with  the                                                               
aftermath of  victimization.  Ms. Demmert  provided the following                                                               
explanations  and  solutions:    no closure  following  a  death;                                                               
deaths  with  visible  injuries  are  classified  as  accidental,                                                               
suicidal, or undetermined, and she  gave an example.  She pointed                                                               
out indigenous  families do not  get closure regarding  the cause                                                               
of  death  that  is  received  commonly  by  other  nationalities                                                               
because  40 percent  of indigenous  communities do  not have  law                                                               
enforcement,  and first  responders  are  concerned with  medical                                                               
issues -  not about gathering  information for a  future criminal                                                               
proceeding.   She  opined colonization  and resource  development                                                               
resulted in laws  and policies that endanger  Alaska Native women                                                               
and  children.   In  fact,  the attitude  of  people coming  into                                                               
communities that do  not have police and justice  systems sends a                                                               
message  that there  is a  lack  of care  for indigenous  people,                                                               
along  with a  longstanding belief  that Native  people are  less                                                               
valuable than land and resources.                                                                                               
8:12:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  DEMMERT stated  Alaska  has the  highest  number of  missing                                                               
persons than any  state in the U.S.   As of January  2019, of the                                                               
347  missing Alaska  Native  and American  Indian  people in  the                                                               
federal  database  [National  Missing and  Unidentified  Persons,                                                               
U.S. Department  of Justice (NamUs)] system,  74 individuals were                                                               
from  Alaska, the  highest rate  in  the country.   Further,  the                                                               
Violence Policy  Center reports Alaska  has the  highest homicide                                                               
rate  of  women by  men  and  is  the  most violent  state,  with                                                               
Anchorage  being the  most violent  city  in the  U.S; the  Urban                                                               
Indian Health  Institute reported  that Alaska  is among  the top                                                               
ten  states  with the  highest  number  of missing  and  murdered                                                               
Native  Americans and  Alaska Natives  at 52  active cases  - ten                                                               
times the national average.   Ms. Demmert said the aforementioned                                                               
statistics  are  unacceptable  and  they  indicate  Alaska  is  a                                                               
violent  state;   according  to   the  [National   Violent  Death                                                               
Reporting  System  (NVDRS),  Centers for  Disease  Control,  U.S.                                                               
Department of Health  and Human Services], between  2003 and 2008                                                               
Alaska  Natives and  American Indians  comprised 29.1  percent of                                                               
the homicide  victims in  Alaska.  Also,  between 2003  and 2008,                                                               
Alaska Native  and American Indian  women represented  38 percent                                                               
of overall deaths.  In  addition, 86.1 percent of murdered Alaska                                                               
Native and  American Indian  women were  not victims  of domestic                                                               
violence  or intimate  partners.   In  response  to this  crisis,                                                               
AKNWRC is  creating a  community engagement  plan to  address the                                                               
services, public statements, legal  issues and resources, and the                                                               
governmental  role needed  when a  person is  missing or  dies an                                                               
unnatural  death.    The  plan  will  follow  models  from  other                                                               
communities  because  residents  cannot  wait for  the  state  or                                                               
federal  government  to act.    However,  the state  can  achieve                                                               
solutions through  legislation; for example, Washington  State is                                                               
assigning two dedicated Tribal aides  within the Washington State                                                               
Patrol to  address issues and  develop a best  practices protocol                                                               
when a woman  is reported missing.  In  2003, Montana established                                                               
fatality reviews  which compare cases with  non-Native deaths and                                                               
make  recommendations to  lawmakers.   Montana also  collects and                                                               
shares  data  with its  seven  Indian  reservations in  order  to                                                               
include  the   Native  community.    North   Dakota  has  enacted                                                               
legislation  that  will  require more  law  enforcement  training                                                               
related to missing  and slain Native Americans;  there is similar                                                               
legislation  pending in  South  Dakota.   In  Congress, there  is                                                               
support  for   Savanna's  Act,  which  includes   provisions  for                                                               
improving response  to cases of  MMIW in Tribal  communities, and                                                               
she suggested Alaska should do so.                                                                                              
8:18:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. DEMMERT,  in response to  Chair Zulkosky, offered  to provide                                                               
written copies of her testimony  to the committee.  She continued                                                               
to  slide  4,  noting  AKNWRC  was funded  in  2017  through  the                                                               
appropriations  for an  Alaska Native  Tribal Resource  Center on                                                               
Domestic  Violence,  and  is the  first  Native  resource  center                                                               
funded due  to the population  of Native Americans and  issues of                                                               
violence  against Native  Americans  and Alaska  Native women  in                                                               
Alaska.     The  center  provides   the  following:     technical                                                               
assistance  and  training,  including needs  assessments;  public                                                               
awareness, resource  development; policy development  and systems                                                               
advocacy, engagement;  research and knowledge  development (slide                                                               
5).  Ms. Demmert then turned  attention to an overview of related                                                               
pending federal legislation, beginning  with the Violence Against                                                               
Women  Act  (VAWA),   which  was  enacted  in   1994  to  address                                                               
nationwide issues; the  Act has been reauthorized  in 2000, 2005,                                                               
and  2013,  with  additional provisions  to  enhance  safety  for                                                               
Native  victims of  domestic  violence,  dating violence,  sexual                                                               
assault, stalking,  and trafficking (slides  6 and 7).   In 2005,                                                               
Title IX:   Safety for Indian Women, was an  amendment to address                                                               
the  need  for  legislation  to   require  annual  government  to                                                               
government consultations  with American Indian and  Alaska Native                                                               
Tribes concerning  the administration of related  programs (slide                                                               
MS. DEMMERT related,  in 2013, an amendment to  VAWA restored the                                                               
inherent  Tribal authority  of  Indian Tribes  to prosecute  non-                                                               
Native   domestic  violence   perpetrators  of   certain  crimes,                                                               
partially  overturning  previous  federal  legislation,  and  she                                                               
provided  background information  on the  legislation (slide  9).                                                               
The 2013 amendment  was limited in scope in that  it only applied                                                               
to domestic  violence crimes and violations  of protection orders                                                               
by a defendant with close ties  to the community (slide 10).  She                                                               
explained the  effect of VAWA 2013  only applied to one  Tribe in                                                               
Alaska,  thus  [H.R.] 1585,  the  Reauthorization  of VAWA  2019,                                                               
would expand Tribal court jurisdiction  to other crimes, create a                                                               
pilot project  for five  Alaska Tribes  to exercise  Tribal court                                                               
jurisdiction,  expand  the  Tribal Access  Program,  through  the                                                               
Department  of Justice,  to Tribes  without law  enforcement, and                                                               
would expand other Tribal protection orders (slides 11 and 12).                                                                 
8:24:29 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY asked whether the  five Alaska Tribes provided for                                                               
in the pilot program have been identified.                                                                                      
MS.  DEMMERT explained  H.R.  1585  has passed  in  the House  of                                                               
Representatives but  the [U.S.] Senate version  has been delayed;                                                               
if the  pilot program is  included in the Senate  version, Tribes                                                               
would apply  to be part of  the pilot program.   She continued to                                                               
slide  13, noting  another provision  within H.R.  1585 is  a new                                                               
section to  recognize findings by  the [Tribal Law and  Order Act                                                               
of 2010], including  the finding that Alaska  Native women suffer                                                               
the  highest  rates  of  domestic  and  sexual  violence  in  the                                                               
MS.  DEMMERT continued  to slide  14  and returned  to the  [H.R.                                                               
1585] pilot  program provision, noting  the definition  of Indian                                                               
country for the  five Tribes would be expanded  to include Alaska                                                               
Native  townsites, allotments,  former reservation  land acquired                                                               
in fee  by Alaska Native  corporations, and all lands  within any                                                               
Alaska  Native village  with a  population  that is  at least  75                                                               
percent  Alaska Native.    She  cautioned at  this  time she  was                                                               
unsure whether the  pilot program provision would  be included in                                                               
the Senate bill.                                                                                                                
8:28:30 AM                                                                                                                    
[Due  to  recording difficulties,  a  portion  of the  audio  was                                                               
MS. DEMMERT  referred to marker  bills, which are  not standalone                                                               
bills  but are  intended  to  be included  within  a larger  bill                                                               
(slide  16).   She  said  the  Native  Youth and  Tribal  Officer                                                               
Protection  Act was  cosponsored by  U.S. Senator  Lisa Murkowski                                                               
and  reaffirms  Tribal  criminal jurisdiction  over  some  crimes                                                               
committed  by  non-Indians,  including child  abuse,  and  crimes                                                               
committed  against certain  public safety  and justice  officials                                                               
(slide 17).   In addition, the Studying the  Missing and Murdered                                                               
Indian Crisis  Act [S.  336], introduced  by Senator  Tester from                                                               
Montana, would  direct the comptroller  general to report  on the                                                               
response of  law enforcement agencies  related to the  MMWI issue                                                               
(slide 18).  The Justice  for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence                                                               
Act  [S.  288],  also  cosponsored  by  Senator  Lisa  Murkowski,                                                               
reaffirms   Tribal  criminal   jurisdiction   over  some   crimes                                                               
committed by non-Indians including  sexual assault, stalking, and                                                               
trafficking,  and  is   intended  to  address  the   gap  in  law                                                               
enforcement and investigation of crimes  such as rape and assault                                                               
(slide  19).   Another related  U.S. Senate  bill is  the SURVIVE                                                               
Act, which  would direct  5 percent of  the total  annual outlays                                                               
from the Crime Victims Fund  be provided to Indian Tribes; Indian                                                               
Tribes were  added to  the fund  last year,  and the  SURVIVE Act                                                               
would make the funding "more permanent"  (slides 20 and 21).  She                                                               
returned to  Savanna's Act [S.  227], which seeks to  improve the                                                               
response to  MMIW by improving  Tribal access to  data, requiring                                                               
data  collection  on  missing and  murdered  Native  people,  and                                                               
directing  the [Offices  of the  U.S. Attorneys]  to develop  law                                                               
enforcement  and justice  protocols to  address missing  persons.                                                               
She pointed out  Alaska does not have a strong  connection to the                                                               
U.S. Attorneys'  office and thus may  "be missing out on  some of                                                               
the,  the  safeguards  there,"  and she  discussed  two  ways  to                                                               
strengthen the bill (slides 22 and 23).                                                                                         
8:33:18 AM                                                                                                                    
[Due  to  recording difficulties,  a  portion  of the  audio  was                                                               
8:34:49 AM                                                                                                                    
AREN SPARCK,  Government Affairs  Officer, Seattle  Indian Health                                                               
Board, gave a  brief personal history and  informed the committee                                                               
the  Urban  Indian  Health  Institute   (UIHI)  is  the  research                                                               
division within  the Seattle  Indian Health  Board (SIHB)  and is                                                               
one  of  12  Tribal  epidemiology  centers  in  the  U.S.    Both                                                               
organizations work in 25 states,  have partnerships with over 130                                                               
Tribes,  and offer  technical assistance  and policy  analysis of                                                               
federal  legislation;  further,  UIHI  and  SIHB  have  a  policy                                                               
platform   working  with   community,   Tribal,  and   government                                                               
partners.  He  directed attention to a  report entitled, "Missing                                                               
and  Murdered   Indigenous  Women  and  Girls,"   co-authored  by                                                               
[Abigail Echo-Hawk,  Chief Research Officer, SIHB,  and Director,                                                               
UIHI], that  was provided  in the committee  packet.   Mr. Sparck                                                               
said the report was based on  a 2017 list of missing and murdered                                                               
indigenous women  and girls (MMIWG) compiled  by Annita Lucchesi,                                                               
PhD; the  report is  part two of  a [three-part  series entitled,                                                               
"Our Bodies, Our Stories"], and part  three of the series - to be                                                               
released  in  November  [2019]  -  will  deal  specifically  with                                                               
Alaska.   Mr.  Sparck advised  the  report studied  data from  71                                                               
cities  in  29 states,  and  sought  to provide  a  comprehensive                                                               
snapshot  of  MMIWG  crisis  in  urban  Native  communities,  and                                                               
explain why collecting  data related to this  issue is difficult.                                                               
Also  reported  were  law   enforcement  agencies'  tracking  and                                                               
response to cases;  collection of the data brought  to light poor                                                               
recordkeeping   and   consistent  racial   misclassification   of                                                               
American Indian  and Alaska  Native women and  girls, as  well as                                                               
flaws in the  Freedom of Information Act  (FOIA) request process.                                                               
Mr. Sparck  pointed out  Alaska was  very responsive  to requests                                                               
for information, although data reporting  related to Tribal lands                                                               
"still needs work across the country."                                                                                          
8:37:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SPARCK continued,  noting the report also  showcases a severe                                                               
lack  of quality  data, and  accessibility to  data, of  violence                                                               
against Native women and girls.   Ultimately, the report provides                                                               
advocacy  for   policy  and  system   changes  to   end  violence                                                               
experienced  by American  Indian and  Alaska Native  communities.                                                               
The report identified 507 cases  nationwide, of which 127 were of                                                               
missing indigenous  women, 282 were cases  of murdered indigenous                                                               
women, and 98  cases were of unknown status; of  those [507], 153                                                               
cases were not  found in law enforcement records.   The Anchorage                                                               
Police  Department was  "the  most  complicit police  department"                                                               
contacted among  all of  the states, and  Anchorage was  third of                                                               
cities with the highest number of  MMIWG cases at 33.  Alaska was                                                               
the  fourth  state  with  the  highest number  of  cases  at  53;                                                               
however, he cautioned due to  the lack of nationwide uniform data                                                               
reporting  and collection  standards, the  report could  not make                                                               
uniform  comparisons or  analysis.   Also  reported  was that  20                                                               
percent   of  the   perpetrators   were  found   not  guilty   or                                                               
accountable;  85 percent  of the  perpetrators were  men, and  50                                                               
percent of men were non-Native.                                                                                                 
[Due  to  recording difficulties,  a  portion  of the  audio  was                                                               
8:40:09 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SPARCK stated  there are different approaches  to improve the                                                               
situation,   and he recognized Alaska  is one of the  states that                                                               
has offered  innovative approaches  to address the  MMIWG crisis.                                                               
He directed  attention to  a document  provided in  the committee                                                               
packet  subtitled,   "Overarching  Policy   Recommendations"  and                                                               
explained  the first  recommendation  theme, "Engage  Communities                                                               
Most  Impacted"  means  working   with  the  Tribal  communities;                                                               
however,  he pointed  out Alaska  is  a "Public  Law 280  state,"                                                               
which  means the  jurisdiction  of Tribes  resides  at the  state                                                               
level but happens in partnership  [with Tribal governments].  Mr.                                                               
Sparck,  speaking from  personal experience,  opined the  Village                                                               
Public Safety  Officer (VPSO) program  is "a little  suspect" and                                                               
gave an example  of a young woman found murdered  in Alaska whose                                                               
body lay for  three days waiting for law  enforcement to respond.                                                               
He stressed  the extreme importance of  the second recommendation                                                               
theme, "Invest  in Indigenous Approaches," which  means investing                                                               
in  Tribal  epidemiology  centers   to  ensure  the  creation  of                                                               
community-led   demographic   data   collection   and   reporting                                                               
standards;  in  fact,  epidemiology  centers seek  to  work  with                                                               
legislators in this regard.                                                                                                     
[Due  to  recording difficulties,  a  portion  of the  audio  was                                                               
MR. SPARCK  gave another example  of the Washington  State Patrol                                                               
that found  only a  fraction of reported  MMIWG "in  the system."                                                               
He remarked:                                                                                                                    
     So,  that's  what  we're  saying  when  we  want  those                                                                    
     indigenous data reporting  and collection methodologies                                                                    
     created, we want  to make sure that it's  done from the                                                                    
     perspective  of Native  people,  so  we can  understand                                                                    
     this a  little bit better.   So, that  data discrepancy                                                                    
     from one coming  from an indigenous method,  to that of                                                                    
     the state,  just shows you  how stark that  contrast is                                                                    
     and  to make  sure  that investing  in that  indigenous                                                                    
     methodology   is   a    priority   going   forward   in                                                                    
8:42:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SPARCK   said  investing  in  indigenous   data  sovereignty                                                               
practices  means respecting  Tribal sovereignty,  and he  advised                                                               
Tribes  have  the right  "to  know"  and have  recourse;  another                                                               
specific recommendation  from the second recommendation  theme is                                                               
investment  in  indigenous   approaches  to  ending  gender-based                                                               
violence, which should be developed  by a partnership with Tribal                                                               
systems and  municipal, county, and state  governments, and while                                                               
maintaining  respect  for  other  jurisdictions.    He  cautioned                                                               
getting to the bottom of  the crisis requires strong coordination                                                               
between all  jurisdictions.  A  third specific  recommendation of                                                               
the  second  recommendation  theme  is to  set  aside  money  for                                                               
services.     The   third  recommendation   theme  was   "Mandate                                                               
Improvements  in Data  Collection and  Reporting" and  he related                                                               
legislation  must  be  specific  to  each  affected  jurisdiction                                                               
regarding  the  collection and  reporting  of  data.   He  opined                                                               
Alaska could be  a beacon for the rest of  the country to address                                                               
this issue by creating a  system to collect the right information                                                               
in  all jurisdictions  through legislation  that respects  Tribal                                                               
sovereignty.    Another  specific recommendation  for  the  third                                                               
recommendation  theme is  to fund  the  infrastructure needed  to                                                               
collect and  report data or to  access other systems.   He closed                                                               
his summary by  restating his personal interest in  the issue and                                                               
offered additional help from SIHB and UIHI.                                                                                     
8:45:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  asked for the  release date for the  [third part]                                                               
of UIHI's report.                                                                                                               
MR. SPARCK said November [2019].                                                                                                
8:46:48 AM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD PETERSON,  President, Central Council of  the Tlingit and                                                               
Haida  Indian Tribes  of Alaska  (Tlingit &  Haida), acknowledged                                                               
the  House   Special  Committee  on  Tribal   Affairs  can  bring                                                               
important  issues  such  as  MMIW  to  the  forefront  of  policy                                                               
discussions.  He  expressed his belief this hearing  is the first                                                               
time MMIW  has been  discussed in  the [State  Capitol Building].                                                               
Since statehood,  violence against Alaska Native  women and girls                                                               
has  not been  a priority  and rural  safety services  have never                                                               
been adequately funded.  Furthermore,  during the time Alaska was                                                               
a  territory,  atrocities  were  committed  through  institutions                                                               
sanctioned  and  funded by  the  federal  government to  separate                                                               
Alaska  Natives  from  their culture  and  traditional  homeland.                                                               
Historical cultural  trauma continues  to affect  communities and                                                               
touches every Alaska Native  family, although generational trauma                                                               
caused by  boarding school experiences  is not recognized  by the                                                               
state and federal governments.   Generational trauma is a part of                                                               
history that  needs to  be recorded,  especially related  to MMIW                                                               
and public safety in rural  Alaska.  Mr. Peterson related Tlingit                                                               
&  Haida has  acted to  bring MMIW  issues to  the forefront,  as                                                               
evidenced  by  marches  during  its  annual  Tribal  Assembly  in                                                               
response to  an unsolved murder  of a  mother on Prince  of Wales                                                               
Island.   In  rural  Alaska, because  of insufficient  resources,                                                               
rural  communities are  told to  call the  Alaska State  Troopers                                                               
"when you  have a body"  and he  provided examples of  murders of                                                               
young  women that  remain unprosecuted.   Mr.  Peterson explained                                                               
the traditional  process that should  begin at the time  of death                                                               
is  delayed  by  poor  response from  law  enforcement;  however,                                                               
hunters are  prosecuted within  hours for  practicing traditional                                                               
hunting methods,  leaving some residents to  conclude that "moose                                                               
are  more valued  to the  State of  Alaska than  Tlingits."   Mr.                                                               
Peterson  said  the  imbalance of  public  safety  priorities  is                                                               
unjust and  is a pattern of  oppression in Alaska.   He described                                                               
Tlingit  &  Haida's actions  to  elevate  the  issue of  MMIW  by                                                               
establishing  a   taskforce  and  hosting  public   speakers;  in                                                               
addition to these actions, the  keynote speaker for the Tlingit &                                                               
Haida  Tribal Assembly  was Abigail  Echo-Hawk, co-author  of the                                                               
aforementioned [MMIWG] report.                                                                                                  
8:52:16 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PETERSON  pointed out the  UIHI MMIWG report found  media and                                                               
government often  blame victims of heinous  crimes by affiliating                                                               
the missing  Native women with drugs,  alcohol, prostitution, and                                                               
criminal  histories, but  not acknowledging  them by  name, which                                                               
contributes  to the  issue  being  "swept under  the  rug for  so                                                               
long."  He  questioned how the safety of Alaska  Native women and                                                               
girls   can  be   a  political   decision  and   not  the   basic                                                               
responsibility  of a  sovereign government  to keep  its citizens                                                               
safe.  Mr. Peterson urged state  government to value the lives of                                                               
Alaska Native women  on the same level as  other citizens; Tribes                                                               
are ready to share resources  and work together to better protect                                                               
Alaska Native  communities because Alaska Native  women and girls                                                               
are human, have names, and deserve protection.                                                                                  
8:53:57 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
        HB 142-NATIVE ORGANIZATIONS VPSO & TANF PROGRAMS                                                                    
8:54:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  announced the  final order  of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL   NO.  142,  "An   Act  relating  to   Alaska  Native                                                               
organizations;  relating to  the  village  public safety  officer                                                               
program;  and   relating  to  the  Alaska   temporary  assistance                                                               
8:55:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE    JONATHAN     KREISS-TOMKINS,    Alaska    State                                                               
Legislature,  paraphrased from  the  following sponsor  statement                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     House   Bill  142   addresses  ambiguity   in  law   by                                                                    
     clarifying  which   Alaska  Native   organizations  are                                                                    
     eligible  to administer  Village Public  Safety Officer                                                                    
     (VPSO)  programs and  Alaska  Native family  assistance                                                                    
     programs. The  Central Council of  the Tlingit  & Haida                                                                    
     Indian  Tribes   of  America  (Tlingit  &   Haida)  has                                                                    
     operated  Southeast  Alaska's  VPSO and  Alaska  Native                                                                    
     family  assistance   programs  for  nearly   20  years.                                                                    
     However,  Tlingit   &  Haida  has  a   different  legal                                                                    
     identity  than  the   regional  nonprofit  corporations                                                                    
     around   Alaska  (e.g.,   AVCP,   Kawerak,  TCC)   that                                                                    
     administer  VPSO  and/or  family  assistance  programs,                                                                    
     owing  to  Tlingit  & Haida's  status  as  a  federally                                                                    
     recognized  tribe. Tlingit  & Haida  is not  a regional                                                                    
     nonprofit   corporation,    despite   regularly   being                                                                    
     mistakenly referred  to as one.  House Bill  142 amends                                                                    
     current  statute to  resolve  this  ambiguity and  make                                                                    
     fully  explicit and  unambiguous that  Tlingit &  Haida                                                                    
     can administer  VPSO and/or family  assistance programs                                                                    
     in partnership with the State of Alaska.                                                                                   
8:56:47 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  SCANLON,  Staff,  Representative  Jonathan  Kreiss-Tomkins,                                                               
Alaska  State Legislature,  stated currently,  nonprofit regional                                                               
corporations  and "rural  areas" are  eligible to  administer the                                                               
VPSO program; HB  142 would add "Alaska  Native organizations" to                                                               
those  eligible.    There  are 13  entities  that  are  currently                                                               
eligible to  administer Alaska Native family  assistance programs                                                               
and adding  Alaska Native organizations  to those  eligible would                                                               
add Metlakatla  and Tlingit &  Haida.  The technical  change made                                                               
by HB  142 does  not add  any other entities  to the  original 13                                                               
regional  nonprofit corporations  listed  in  statute, but  would                                                               
ensure  all are  authorized  to administer  Alaska Native  family                                                               
assistance programs.   He explained the  ambiguity occurs because                                                               
Tlingit  &  Haida  is  a federally-recognized  Tribe  and  not  a                                                               
regional  nonprofit  corporation,  and thus  is  not  technically                                                               
authorized to  administer the program[s].   Mr. Scanlon  said the                                                               
following organizations and agencies  have favorably reviewed the                                                               
bill:   Tlingit & Haida;  the Department of Public  Safety (DPS);                                                               
the  Department  of  Health  and   Social  Services  (DHSS);  the                                                               
Department of Law (DOL).                                                                                                        
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  said although the  sponsor has  characterized the                                                               
bill as  a narrow, technical  change, the  size and scope  of the                                                               
work done by  Tlingit & Haida in Southeast leads  one to think of                                                               
Tlingit &  Haida as  similar to one  of the  regional nonprofits;                                                               
however,  as a  legal entity,  Tlingit  & Haida  is a  federally-                                                               
recognized  Tribe.   She  asked for  confirmation  that the  bill                                                               
would only  apply to  Tlingit & Haida  and the  Metlakatla Indian                                                               
MR. SCANLON clarified, as it relates  to the VPSO program, HB 142                                                               
would add Tlingit & Haida  and Metlakatla as entities eligible to                                                               
administer the program,  in partnership with DPS.   As it relates                                                               
to  the  Alaska  Native  family  assistance  program[s],  HB  142                                                               
ensures  that the  13 entities  currently listed  in statute  are                                                               
legally authorized to administer the program[s].                                                                                
9:00:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE pointed  out  the  Department of  Commerce,                                                               
Community & Economic Development recognizes  Tlingit & Haida as a                                                               
nonprofit  corporation, which  would fulfil  the requirements  to                                                               
administer the VPSO program.                                                                                                    
MR. SCANLON deferred the question.                                                                                              
9:02:11 AM                                                                                                                    
ANDREW   MERRILL,  Captain,   Commander,  "C"   Detachment,  VPSO                                                               
Program,  Division of  Alaska State  Troopers, DPS,  informed the                                                               
committee  he manages  the VPSO  program  and is  captain of  "C"                                                               
[Due  to  recording difficulties,  a  portion  of the  audio  was                                                               
CAPTAIN MERRILL  recalled last  year a VPSO  and Tlingit  & Haida                                                               
were sued over  actions by the VPSO; during  the lawsuit, Tlingit                                                               
& Haida  exercised sovereign  immunity and  was removed  from the                                                               
civil suit.  In the judge's  ruling of the lawsuit, the state was                                                               
repeatedly noticed  that technically, Tlingit  & Haida was  not a                                                               
Native nonprofit as  defined in regulations or  statute.  Captain                                                               
Merrill  explained  at   that  time  DPS  and   Tlingit  &  Haida                                                               
recognized the  need to correct  the issue,  and one step  in the                                                               
process to become compliant was  for Tlingit & Haida to establish                                                               
nonprofit status with DCCED.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  questioned whether  Tlingit & Haida  is now                                                               
in compliance with the VPSO requirements.                                                                                       
CAPTAIN MERRILL  said yes.  Tlingit  & Haida is established  as a                                                               
nonprofit and is legally within  compliance of the regulation and                                                               
9:05:26 AM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD  PETERSON, President,  Central Council  of the  Tlingit &                                                               
Haida  Indian Tribes  of  Alaska (Tlingit  &  Haida), in  further                                                               
response to  Representative Vance, said Tlingit  & Haida complied                                                               
by  registering as  a nonprofit,  albeit  at some  administrative                                                               
expense.   He  opined it  is  in the  interest of  the state  and                                                               
Tlingit &  Haida to complete  the "statutory fix" within  HB 142,                                                               
which is  housekeeping and noncontroversial.   He  then continued                                                               
to  his  invited  testimony  and   stated  Tlingit  &  Haida  has                                                               
administered  the  VPSO  and  [Alaska  Native  family  assistance                                                               
programs/Temporary   Aid  to   Needy  Families   (TANF)]  program                                                               
successfully for over 20 years  through grant agreements with the                                                               
state.   The programs are  vital for all  of Southeast:   TANF is                                                               
operated for  the entire region  from Ketchikan to  Yakutat; VPSO                                                               
is operated through a grant  agreement with DPS and interest from                                                               
local communities.  Mr. Peterson said  Tlingit & Haida has done a                                                               
good job for over 20  years overcoming obstacles to the programs;                                                               
in  fact, as  a  regional  Tribe, Tlingit  &  Haida is  "uniquely                                                               
situated" to  provide these services for  Southeast, and although                                                               
it is  not a consortium  of Tribes,  Tlingit & Haida  is directly                                                               
connected to  the affected  communities.   He restated  Tlingit &                                                               
Haida is  not defined as  a Tribal  nonprofit and seeks  a simple                                                               
and efficient  statutory correction  to achieve compliance.   Mr.                                                               
Peterson   acknowledged  there   are  ongoing   budgetary  issues                                                               
concerning  TANF and  VPSO  programs; however,  HB  142 has  been                                                               
discussed  with   DOL  and  DHSS   and  no  issue,   concern,  or                                                               
controversy has been raised.                                                                                                    
9:09:52 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY questioned  whether  Tlingit &  Haida would  face                                                               
problems managing the VPSO program were the bill [not to pass].                                                                 
MR. PETERSON  said Tlingit  & Haida  would have  additional costs                                                               
associated  with  changes  to  its  management  operations.    He                                                               
restated  Tlingit &  Haida's  existing  management operation  has                                                               
been a successful model for over 20 years.                                                                                      
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  surmised [without  passage of  HB 142]  Tlingit &                                                               
Haida would  anticipate an increase  in administrative  costs and                                                               
thereby decreased funding for the VPSO program.                                                                                 
MR. PETERSON agreed there would  be additional costs for the VPSO                                                               
and TANF programs.                                                                                                              
9:11:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  opened  public  testimony  on  HB  142.    After                                                               
ascertaining  no  one wished  to  testify,  public testimony  was                                                               
closed, and HB 142 was held over.                                                                                               
9:12:03 AM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special  Committee on  Tribal Affairs  meeting  was adjourned  at                                                               
9:12 a.m.                                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB142 Fiscal Note DPS-VPSO 4.28.19.pdf HTRB 4/30/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 142
HB0142A.PDF HTRB 4/30/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 142
HB 142 Sponsor Statement 4.29.19.pdf HTRB 4/30/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 142
Missing-and-Murdered-Indigenous-Women-and-Girls-Report.pdf HTRB 4/30/2019 8:00:00 AM
MMIWG Policy Guidance_Final.pdf HTRB 4/30/2019 8:00:00 AM
VAWA.pdf HTRB 4/30/2019 8:00:00 AM