Legislature(2019 - 2020)DAVIS 106

03/03/2020 08:00 AM TRIBAL AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
08:06:21 AM Start
08:07:12 AM HB287
09:33:01 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 287 VILLAGE PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER GRANTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
           HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON TRIBAL AFFAIRS                                                                          
                         March 3, 2020                                                                                          
                           8:06 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky, Chair                                                                                          
Representative Bryce Edgmon, Vice Chair                                                                                         
Representative John Lincoln                                                                                                     
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
Representative Dave Talerico                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL  NO. 287, "An Act  requiring background investigations                                                               
of village public safety officer  applicants by the Department of                                                               
Public  Safety; relating  to the  village  public safety  officer                                                               
program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 287                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: VILLAGE PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER GRANTS                                                                               
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) KOPP                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
02/24/20       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/24/20       (H)       TRB, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
02/26/20       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
02/26/20       (H)       <Bill Hearing Canceled>                                                                                
03/03/20       (H)       TRB AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CHUCK KOPP                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As prime sponsor, introduced HB 287.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL NEMITH                                                                                                                  
Public Safety Coordinator                                                                                                       
Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided  information and answered questions                                                           
during the hearing on HB 287.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
KEN TRUITT, Staff                                                                                                               
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented a  sectional analysis for  HB 287                                                             
on behalf of Representative Kopp, prime sponsor.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
WILL MAYO, Chair                                                                                                                
Village Public Safety Officer Tribal Grantee Caucus                                                                             
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 287.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:06:21 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  TIFFANY ZULKOSKY  called  the House  Special Committee  on                                                             
Tribal Affairs  meeting to  order at  8:06 a.m.   Representatives                                                               
Talerico,  Edgmon,  Lincoln,  Ortiz,   Kopp,  and  Zulkosky  were                                                               
present at the call to order.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
          HB 287-VILLAGE PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER GRANTS                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:07:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  announced that the  only order of  business would                                                               
be   HOUSE   BILL  NO.   287,   "An   Act  requiring   background                                                               
investigations  of village  public safety  officer applicants  by                                                               
the Department of  Public Safety; relating to  the village public                                                               
safety officer program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:07:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CHUCK KOPP,  Alaska State  Legislature, as  prime                                                               
sponsor,  presented  HB  287   with  a  PowerPoint  presentation,                                                               
entitled "HB 287 Village Public  Safety Officer Program Updates."                                                               
As shown  on slide 3, he  said the proposed legislation  began in                                                               
2019, based  on the  efforts of a  Village Public  Safety Officer                                                               
(VPSO)  work group  ("work group")  created  on May  9, 2019,  by                                                               
Representative  Edgmon,   Speaker  of  the  House,   and  Senator                                                               
Giessel,  Senate President,  in response  to the  recruitment and                                                               
retention crisis  of VPSOs  in rural Alaska.   Shortly  after the                                                               
VPSO work  group was formed,  Representative Kopp  imparted, U.S.                                                               
Attorney  General William  Barr issued  his public  safety crisis                                                               
declaration for rural Alaska.   Representative Kopp listed others                                                               
in  the work  group:   Co-chair  Senator  Olson, Senator  Shower,                                                               
Senator Bishop,  Representative Rauscher,  Representative Edgmon,                                                               
and himself,  and stated that  there had been  community meetings                                                               
from Bethel to Kotzebue, including  a community listening session                                                               
in  the   Northwest  Arctic  Borough  hosted   by  Representative                                                               
Lincoln.  He said U.S.  Attorney General Schroder also joined the                                                               
work  group in  Bethel.   There  were listening  sessions at  the                                                               
Tanana  Chiefs Conference,  at the  Tribal Unity  Conference, and                                                               
others,  as well  as  a  meeting with  the  Department of  Public                                                               
Safety (DPS) leadership team, in  which Kelly Howell was present.                                                               
Representative Kopp said  that DPS had made it  clear the mission                                                               
for the program must be laid out by the legislature.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:11:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP   related  that   the  VSPO   program  ("the                                                               
program") was  created in  the 1970s for  the protection  of life                                                               
and property and  has evolved into a primary  public safety role.                                                               
He said  the program  has 10 entities  that operate  VPSO grants.                                                               
Those entities, [as shown on  slide 2], are:  Chugachmiut, Copper                                                               
River Native Association,  Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association,                                                               
Kodiak Area Native Association,  Kawerak Northwest Arctic Borough                                                               
Association  of Village  Council Presidents,  Bristol Bay  Native                                                               
Association, Tanana  Chiefs Association,  and Central  Council of                                                               
Tlingit &  Haida Indian  Tribes of  Alaska.   Representative Kopp                                                               
noted  that eight  of those  entities are  regionally based  non-                                                               
profit  corporations  whose  missions   are  to  cultivate  self-                                                               
determination among their tribal  citizens as they deliver public                                                               
safety services;  one is  a federally  recognized tribe;  and the                                                               
Northwest  Arctic  Borough  - a  home  rule  regional  government                                                               
seated  in Kotzebue,  Alaska, is  the  only grantee  organization                                                               
that is also a municipal government.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:12:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  reported that  "the  past  decade has  seen                                                               
shrinking  numbers  of  VPSOs," with  significant  difficulty  in                                                               
recruitment and retention.  He  said in response, recommendations                                                               
were made,  [shown on slides  6-10].  He talked  about activities                                                               
[shown on  slides 4 and 5].   There was a  listening session with                                                               
DPS;  a listening  session with  the  VPSO grantee  organizations                                                               
management  personnel;  the  Northwest  Arctic  Borough's  Public                                                               
Safety  Commission  meeting;  the  Tribal  Unity  Caucus'  annual                                                               
meeting;  a  meeting  at the  Anchorage  Legislative  Information                                                               
Office  (LIO)  to review  the  draft  report; and,  finally,  the                                                               
adoption  of  the  report  at  a meeting  in  Juneau.    Co-chair                                                               
activities  included  an  Alaska   Federation  of  Natives  (AFN)                                                               
Council  for the  Advancement of  Alaska  Natives committee  pre-                                                               
convention  planning  meeting;  an AFN  annual  convention  panel                                                               
focusing on  rural public safety;  a U.S. Department  of Interior                                                               
(DOI)  Bureau  of  Indian  Affairs   (BIA)  rural  public  safety                                                               
listening   session  in   Nome;  and   a  meeting   with  grantee                                                               
organizations and VPSO management personnel.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:14:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  moved on  to slide 6  on VPSO  working group                                                               
long-term recommendations.  Regarding  the work group's continued                                                               
work  with  federal  partners,  and  especially  with  regard  to                                                               
training, with  formal recognition tribes  may be able  to access                                                               
federal   law  enforcement   training  programs;   also,  federal                                                               
partners can  create greater recurring  funds for  public safety.                                                               
Representative    Kopp    related    that    another    long-term                                                               
recommendation  of the  work group  was  the passing  of a  state                                                               
version   of   the   Indian  Self-Determination   and   Education                                                               
Assistance Act  (ISDEAA).  If  the ISDEAA  were to be  passed, he                                                               
continued,  the  state could  formally  compact  with tribes  and                                                               
offer  the maximum  amount  of program  design/redesign/financial                                                               
flexibility   for  the   various  VPSO   grantees.     The  third                                                               
recommendation  was   to  consider   upward  mobility   for  VPSO                                                               
positions, either  through compacting or state  statutory changes                                                               
or both,  for the  purpose of providing  for different  levels of                                                               
VPSO personnel  related to levels  of training, the  highest VPSO                                                               
level  being equivalent  in  function, training,  and  pay to  an                                                               
Alaska  State  Trooper  ("trooper").    The  last  recommendation                                                               
listed  by Representative  Kopp was  to work  to define  the true                                                               
cost of  providing operational public safety  services throughout                                                               
rural Alaska.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:19:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  addressed slides  7-10, the  short-term work                                                               
group recommendations, of which  there were nine.  Recommendation                                                               
1  was  to update  the  VPSO  statutes  to  provide a  clear  law                                                               
enforcement and public safety vision  and mission for the program                                                               
and to  provide VPSO personnel  clear law enforcement  duties and                                                               
powers.  This  recommendation exists due to how  the VPSO program                                                               
has  evolved,  he explained,  from  a  life safety  program  that                                                               
emphasized  search and  rescue and  Emergency Medical  Technician                                                               
(EMT)-type  functions  and support,  to  an  agency that  handles                                                               
everything up  to violent  assaults, sexual  assaults, drownings,                                                               
and homicides.   The VPSO, or "boots on the  ground," is often on                                                               
the scene days before a trooper  is able to arrive, a function of                                                               
Alaska's  massive  size,  Representative  Kopp added.    He  also                                                               
brought up the  fact that two VPSOs  from Representative Edgmon's                                                               
district were  killed in the  line of duty while  performing "gun                                                               
calls,"  integral   acts  of   public  safety,   reinforcing  the                                                               
importance of VPSOs' job duties.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP informed the  committee that recommendation 2                                                               
of  the work  group's  short-term recommendations  was to  create                                                               
more financial flexibility for the  VPSO grantee organizations in                                                               
the updated VPSO  statutes.  With the grants at  times being very                                                               
restrictive in  language regarding  what money was  available for                                                               
which  public  safety mission,  he  explained  that delivering  a                                                               
public safety service  is not only just pay, and  the labor to do                                                               
the job,  but about  training, travel, fuel  to heat  homes, fuel                                                               
for  transportation,   equipment  needed,   and  housing.     The                                                               
interpretation of  how the grant  funds had been  distributed had                                                               
been  restrictive, and  a lot  of funding  had been  left unspent                                                               
because it was  deemed to be not directly related  to the mission                                                               
as spelled out in statute.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:23:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  went on to recommendation  3, restoring VPSO                                                               
funding  to fiscal  year 2018  (FY 18)  levels:   $3 million  was                                                               
vetoed out of the VPSO program  for the reason that the money was                                                               
unspent.   Through  committee meetings  and meeting  with grantee                                                               
organizations  and  all  partnerships involved,  the  work  group                                                               
realized that  the reason the  funds were unspent was  that there                                                               
were so many  denials of requests to utilize money  in the public                                                               
safety mission.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:24:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ  asked  what  those  amounts  would  be  if                                                               
funding were to be restored to FY 18 levels.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  replied that  he thought the  entire program                                                               
was at  $11 million,  and he  reminded Representative  Ortiz that                                                               
the VPSO  program was  a line item  in the DPS  budget.   He said                                                               
that he  thought $8  or $9  million went to  grantees.   He added                                                               
that because of  the work group, the money  appropriated would be                                                               
more fully  utilized and there  will not be such  large carryover                                                               
expenses unauthorized.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:26:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  confirmed that  the  funding  levels were  still                                                               
roughly $2  million short of  restoring to  the FY 18  levels and                                                               
funds had  been misspent because  there had been so  many denials                                                               
from DPS in issuing the funds to the grantees.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:28:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  continued with  slide 8, regarding  the work                                                               
group's  short-term recommendations.   Funding  unfunded mandates                                                               
is  key in  a partnership  that provides  public safety  services                                                               
because   municipalities  [which   also  provide   public  safety                                                               
services]   have   human   resources   departments,   information                                                               
technology (IT)  support, mechanic shops for  municipal vehicles,                                                               
and other  such support.  All  costs are much more  indirect when                                                               
considering  VPSO program  unfunded mandates  because it  must be                                                               
determined how to  provide all these supports.  He  added that it                                                               
is great that the state is  able to partner with communities, and                                                               
that  it  is  the  communities'   desire  that  they  have  local                                                               
government and  local delivery  of public  safety services.   The                                                               
state's  taking  over and  putting  troopers  in these  positions                                                               
would  be a  significant expenditure  for the  state in  terms of                                                               
benefits and retirement for employees,  in addition to all of the                                                               
indirect   costs  that   the   grantees   support,  while   their                                                               
partnership saves "untold millions of dollars."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  related that  recommendation 4, to  fund the                                                               
unfunded mandates,  states that as much  as possible, restrictive                                                               
chains that  say money  cannot be  appropriated for  the services                                                               
that are necessary  to deliver the public safety  mission must be                                                               
removed.  Recommendation 5, he  continued, calls for updating the                                                               
statutes  so grant  awards pay  grantee organizations  their full                                                               
indirect costs,  currently at  35 percent.   Recommendation  6 of                                                               
the work group's  short-term recommendations, Representative Kopp                                                               
continued,  is   to  move  financial  grant   management  to  the                                                               
Department  of  Commerce,  Community,  and  Economic  Development                                                               
(DCCED).  The working group  met with Commissioner Julie Anderson                                                               
and  Sandra Moller,  who would  oversee  the grant.   During  the                                                               
meeting, it  was made known that  the VPSO program would  be able                                                               
to be managed; there would be  a learning curve, but the friction                                                               
involved with the grants management portion would be lessened.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:32:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP admitted  that the  legislature might  be to                                                               
blame for not updating VPSO  statute to clearly define the role's                                                               
function.   The question  was whether  the program  could receive                                                               
funding if  acting outside  the scope  of statute.   There  was a                                                               
"mission collision" of VPSOs being  desperately needed to do what                                                               
they  do but  working  outside of  the  statutory authority,  and                                                               
troopers managing  the grants and  asking honest  questions about                                                               
whether they were  authorized to fund certain  expenditures.  One                                                               
public   safety  mission   conflicted  with   another,  and   the                                                               
relationship was  harmed over  time.   The idea  was not  to cast                                                               
blame,  but to  fix  the  problem, he  added.   Transparency  was                                                               
needed in grant  management, he continued, as  applicants did not                                                               
have a sense of how much  money was available to them, what would                                                               
be  appropriated,   or  why  one  applicant   was  authorized  an                                                               
expenditure while another was denied.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP informed the committee  that DCCED had a much                                                               
more transparent  grants management process,  including notifying                                                               
legislators  when  unexpanded block  grant  funds  were in  their                                                               
area.   He stated  that the fact  the financial  grant management                                                               
piece  would be  moved to  DCCED is  not indicative  of grantees'                                                               
unwillingness  to  partner  with  DPS;  when  it  came  to  money                                                               
management, DCCED is just a better entity.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:35:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ZULKOSKY asked,  with regard to restoring funding  to FY 18                                                               
levels, about  the significant amount  of money that  appeared to                                                               
be unspent  in the VPSO line  item annually, and whether  some of                                                               
it was related to funding denials to VPSO grantees.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:35:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL  NEMITH,  Public  Safety Coordinator,  Aleutian  Pribilof                                                               
Islands  Association,  replied  by  saying  that  mid-year  in  a                                                               
program such  as the  VPSO program, when  the initial  $3 million                                                               
was  taken   from  the  program,   the  budget  would   not  have                                                               
necessarily been at  50 percent spent.  In  the Aleutian Pribilof                                                               
Islands Association  (APIA), it  is most  important that  he hold                                                               
money aside to  ensure he is able to pay  officers throughout the                                                               
year.   There have been denials  in the past, he  said, and there                                                               
have been  extremely late approvals.   Central Council  Tlingit &                                                               
Haida Indian  Tribes of  Alaska (Tlingit  & Haida)  had requested                                                               
supplemental funding  for public safety  office repair in  one of                                                               
their  communities, and  the request  remained unanswered  by DPS                                                               
for four  months before it  was approved on  the last day  of the                                                               
fiscal year.  At  that time Tlingit & Haida was  told to "do what                                                               
[it could]."  Mr. Nemith  reminded the committee that renovations                                                               
in Alaska, not to mention rural  Alaska, are a timely process, so                                                               
an approval on the last day of the fiscal year was unacceptable.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:38:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP imparted  that  short-term recommendation  7                                                               
was to  maintain operational  advisory, training,  and experience                                                               
requirement  oversight at  DPS.   The  troopers  are a  statewide                                                               
public safety  agency and the  VPSO program  is a subset  of that                                                               
agency; the strong partnership  needs to continue, Representative                                                               
Kopp  said.   Recommendation 8  would  call for  the need  within                                                               
statute  to  create  a tribal/grantee  organization  consultation                                                               
process  before   DPS  can  significantly  change   training  and                                                               
experience requirements  for the  VPSOs, he stated.   Remembering                                                               
that all  grantees are functioning  tribal governments  that have                                                               
formed these  non-profits to  partner with  the state  to provide                                                               
public safety,  a concern  is when  significant changes  would be                                                               
introduced without  speaking with  them first, because  the group                                                               
is  used  to  working  together, checking  in  monthly  and  even                                                               
weekly.     Recommendation  9,   finally,  would   make  required                                                               
revisions and  place them in  statute to operationalize  the VPSO                                                               
program  and  facilitate  the grant  management  piece  going  to                                                               
DCCED.   Representative  Kopp dismissed  the criticism  put forth                                                               
that the  VPSO program as a  non-profit may not have  capacity to                                                               
follow through;  he added that  all that is needed  is structural                                                               
support.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:42:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  added that  the work group  was structured                                                               
initially to  come back  with a set  of recommendations  and then                                                               
throughout the process realized that it  was not going to be just                                                               
one set of  recommendations but an incremental  process; that the                                                               
program,   which  has   been  languishing,   would  need   to  be                                                               
restructured.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:43:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEN  TRUITT,  Staff,  Representative  Chuck  Kopp,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of Representative Kopp,  prime sponsor of                                                               
HB  287, indicated  that  the  grantee organizations  recommended                                                               
changes with the  overall intent to create  financial and program                                                               
flexibility, design  and redesign  authority, and  more localized                                                               
solutions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TRUITT gave  a sectional  analysis.   He referenced  HB 287,                                                               
Section 1,  which relates to  recommendation 8,  the consultation                                                               
process, and addresses a change  that was made without consenting                                                               
any of the  organizations.  Section 2 also  relates to background                                                               
checks  having once  been conducted  by  DPS, which  unilaterally                                                               
stopped with no notice given  to grantee organizations.  Sections                                                               
1 and 2  put into place the mechanism by  which background checks                                                               
can be done by DPS for the  VPSO program.  Any state program that                                                               
requires national background  checks can be found  in the statute                                                               
in Section  1, he added.   Section 2 is the  requirement that DPS                                                               
authorize and pay for background check recommendations.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:47:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. TRUITT  continued his analysis  with page  3, Section 3.   It                                                               
has been proposed that the  existing VPSO statute be repealed and                                                               
reenacted,   he   related,   and   contain  all   nine   of   the                                                               
aforementioned  recommendations, but  specifically recommendation                                                               
9 itself,  which was  to take the  existing regulations  that DPS                                                               
has for  the program  and use  them as a  starting point  for the                                                               
legislation.  One  may compare the existing statute  for the VPSO                                                               
duties (on the left hand side  of the chart in members' packets),                                                               
which were  highly limited when  compared with the  state trooper                                                               
duties,  which were  much more  specific actions  and powers,  as                                                               
outlined  in statute  (on right  side of  chart).   One could  be                                                               
flexible  with  VPSO  program management,  or  very  restrictive.                                                               
With  the  passage  of  HB  287, duties  and  functions  of  VPSO                                                               
coordinators would be laid out  much more clearly and distinctly.                                                               
He  said VPSOs  are listed  in  statute as  being peace  officers                                                               
alongside  state  troopers, but  more  of  a mirroring  of  state                                                               
trooper  functions is  desired when  describing the  functions of                                                               
VPSOs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:51:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TRUITT moved  on to  page  4, subsection  (b), which  mostly                                                               
mirrors the existing subsection (b)  of the current VPSO statute,                                                               
the difference  being that the  reference to the  commissioner of                                                               
DCCED  is there,  as  well as  specific  references to  federally                                                               
recognized tribes.   He explained that this  is an acknowledgment                                                               
that  the statute  is an  artificial creation;  that the  grantee                                                               
organizations  are  "non-profits";  and  specific  references  to                                                               
recognized tribes make the statute reflect reality.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:52:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. TRUITT  said that subsection (d)  on page 5, line  9, is from                                                               
existing DPS  regulation 13 AAC  96.030.  With regard  to funding                                                               
unfunded  mandates,  Mr.  Truitt  related  that  the  regulations                                                               
specifically had  an indemnification provision that  required the                                                               
grantee organizations  to indemnify  the state.   Furthermore, he                                                               
said  he used  to have  to sign  the agreement  when he  had been                                                               
Chief  Operating  Officer  at  Tlingit &  Haida  and  thought  it                                                               
"backwards"  that the  state  had to  be  indemnified during  the                                                               
performance of a state public safety function.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TRUITT  continued  with subsection  (e),  which  comes  from                                                               
existing regulations 13 AAC 96.040 and  050.  This is still being                                                               
looked at,  he stated, and  more recommendations may come  in the                                                               
next  version of  HB  287.   Subsection  (f)  comes  from 13  AAC                                                               
96.040, and the intent is to  expand as to not be so prescriptive                                                               
that there is  only one VPSO per village but  to give flexibility                                                               
for the organizations  to receive funding and put  in villages as                                                               
many VPSOs  as they deem  appropriate.  He added  that subsection                                                               
(g) addressed these concerns as well.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TRUITT addressed  page 6,  subsection (i),  which is  nearly                                                               
identical  to  subsection  (c)   of  the  existing  statute,  the                                                               
difference  being  on  line  19   the  rulemaking  or  regulation                                                               
adopting  authority  will  be  in  consultation  with  the  grant                                                               
recipients.  Lines 23 and 24  are highlighted because this is the                                                               
only  place in  statute where  it is  delineated DPS  and trooper                                                               
interaction will continue as it has been.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:57:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TRUITT moved  on to  page 7,  subsection (k),  which, as  he                                                               
pointed  out,  is a  brand  new  concept relating  to  short-term                                                               
recommendation  2, providing  more flexibility.   The  negotiated                                                               
contract  language   therein  is  that  approvals   will  not  be                                                               
unreasonably withheld.   Requests  for funding  will not  be held                                                               
back unless  they do not  in any way conform  to the program.   A                                                               
grant recipient  may use funding for  anything reasonably related                                                               
to public  safety and VPSO  duties, under the suite  of statutes.                                                               
Subsections  (l) and  (m) are  the consultation  recommendations,                                                               
which will  be very familiar to  tribes as they come  from orders                                                               
and  memorandums  ("memos")  from  the executive  branch  of  the                                                               
federal government with which tribes are familiar.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. TRUITT  moved on to  Section 4, on  page 8, which  comes from                                                               
the  current VPSO  qualifications and  regulations.   On page  8,                                                               
lines  17-21,  in  terms  of   qualifications,  felonies  were  a                                                               
lifetime  ban.   As  it  currently stands,  he  pointed out,  the                                                               
lifetime ban is only a felony  against a person.  Other felonies,                                                               
such as controlled substances, have a 10-year window.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:00:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP pointed  out that there is  a recruitment and                                                               
retention  crisis  in  rural  Alaska,   where  the  incidents  of                                                               
domestic  violence per  capita is  very high.   The  question the                                                               
working group  faced was  whether to consider  a lifetime  ban on                                                               
someone  who  had  committed a  misdemeanor  but  whom  community                                                               
leaders  trusted and  deemed qualified  to  do the  job and  whom                                                               
village   elders  and   tribal  councils   considered  a   person                                                               
rehabilitated,   having  demonstrated   good  conduct,   lack  of                                                               
criminal behavior,  good community  service, and  to be  of sound                                                               
character.  If  a person has had no convictions  within 10 years,                                                               
HB 287 states, and the nature  of the conviction happened to have                                                               
been drug- or alcohol-related in  nature, a person would still be                                                               
eligible  for consideration.   Representative  Kopp stressed  the                                                               
importance of  returning power  to local  communities as  well as                                                               
allowing folks to  "redeem their past and  secure their futures."                                                               
The heart  of HB 287, he  added, is to allow  villages and tribes                                                               
to recognize  their people  who have  meaningfully pursued  a new                                                               
path forward.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:03:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TRUITT continued  with  page 9,  section  25, pertaining  to                                                               
background   investigations,  which   came   directly  from   DPS                                                               
regulation 13 AAC  96.090, and also reflects  a unilateral change                                                               
that was  made by DPS  regarding hours worked.   In line  30, 650                                                               
hours represented  going through the  trooper academy.   The rest                                                               
of the training  reflects all of the functions men  and women are                                                               
currently  doing, and  recognizes  the training  that they  have.                                                               
Mr. Truitt related  that when he had been in  charge of Tlingit &                                                               
Haida  all VPSOs  had received  the  same amount  of training  as                                                               
troopers.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TRUITT  continued  with  page  11,  firearms  training,  DPS                                                               
regulation 13  AAC 96.100.   He added that VPSO  certification on                                                               
line  4 and  denial  revocation  on line  15  are  also from  the                                                               
regulations.     Closing  out  by  speaking   on  the  transition                                                               
provisions, he said:   Section 5 is the authority  DCCED needs to                                                               
manage  the grant;  Section 6  is the  grandfather provision  for                                                               
existing VPSO  personnel that might  be in the field  without the                                                               
training in  HB 287  but with different  training from  when they                                                               
were first  hired; and Section  7 is specific instruction  to DPS                                                               
that  the  current  interactions  that  happen  between  DPS  and                                                               
troopers  would  continue to  happen.    The bill  proposes  that                                                               
grants management  takes effect July  1, 2020, and the  rest take                                                               
effect immediately.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:07:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ZULKOSKY asked, regarding page  5, lines 23-26, whether Mr.                                                               
Truitt  could address  the functionality  of how  the provision's                                                               
language would  work in  practice for VPSO  programs in  terms of                                                               
creating standards for the number  of eligible positions within a                                                               
particular region.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:07:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. TRUITT  deferred to  the department  to answer  the question.                                                               
Notwithstanding that, he  said, "I don't know that  it's clear to                                                               
the VPSO organizations."  He said  that currently it is not clear                                                               
how many  VPSOs will be granted  based on how many  are requested                                                               
through an application.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:08:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP reiterated the intent  of HB 287 is to create                                                               
more flexibility so that recipients  could use the VPSO for other                                                               
villages also in  their region, whether it is  to support another                                                               
VPSO or respond to an  incident outside of the immediate village.                                                               
One could receive a grant tying  a VPSO to more than one village,                                                               
he added.   It  could be  that villages  are ultimately  named in                                                               
grants,  he stated.   Northwest  Arctic Borough  has 10  villages                                                               
served by grants, he stated, so  maybe every grant would have all                                                               
10 named,  and that  way the  VPSO would be  able to  be deployed                                                               
where  needed.   VPSOs  have  gone  from Southeast  to  Northwest                                                               
Arctic Borough to help, which is  one reason HB 287 wants to make                                                               
clear  VPSOs have  commonly recognized  peace  officer powers  in                                                               
statute.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:11:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY added  that there  seemed  to be  a values  clash                                                               
between the grantees that were  operating the VPSO program on the                                                               
ground and  how it was being  managed on the DPS  level, and that                                                               
it  would  be  a  shame  to  create  more  ambiguity  that  could                                                               
potentially restrain  the addition  of staff in  communities that                                                               
are larger.   In her district,  she added, there are  villages of                                                               
300  and  villages of  700  or  1000  people, which  may  require                                                               
additional VPSO  staffing.  She  wanted to make sure  the passage                                                               
of HB  287 would not  unintentionally limit or  restrain programs                                                               
to one individual per community.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:12:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TRUITT   replied  that  more  flexible   language  for  that                                                               
particular  provision was  in the  works and  would give  grantee                                                               
organizations the ability to move personnel.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:13:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  asked for an explanation  of the budget,                                                               
including administrative  costs, on page  5, line 4,  and whether                                                               
it needed to be expanded to ensure a clear definition thereof.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:14:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP replied  that the intent behind HB  287 is to                                                               
provide maximum  flexibility, because  each region  has different                                                               
needs.   He  said DCCED  has one-size-fits-all  grant application                                                               
forms  outlining  what  is  and  is  not  permitted,  and  it  is                                                               
certainly  the intent  of HB  287 that  every need  be identified                                                               
within the budget.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:17:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WILL MAYO,  Chair, Village Public  Safety Officer  Tribal Grantee                                                               
Caucus, said  that after  meeting for  two and  a half  years the                                                               
VPSO Tribal  Caucus always came back  to the same problem  of the                                                               
law  being  too restrictive.    At  times,  the caucus  had  been                                                               
permitted to  try things out,  and things were working,  but they                                                               
would be brought back on a short  leash because of the law.   Mr.                                                               
Mayo  added that  he also  served as  executive director  for the                                                               
Alaska  Tribal Unity  Caucus,  a  statewide intertribal  advocacy                                                               
organization that has  also submitted a resolution  in support of                                                               
HB 287.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAYO told  the committee that he was a  citizen of the Native                                                               
village of Tanana,  a former Alaska Native  Claims Settlement Act                                                               
(ANCSA) Corporation Chief Executive  Officer, and a tribal chief.                                                               
The  duties of  tribal chief  often dealt  with issues  of public                                                               
safety, he said.   Mr. Mayo was employed as  a school janitor and                                                               
served as  a volunteer search and  rescue pilot.  As  a community                                                               
leader,  he   often  had  to   pinch  hit  with  regard   to  law                                                               
enforcement.   He imparted  that he has  been called  into active                                                               
shooter  situations  in  the  early hours  of  the  morning,  has                                                               
confronted  burglaries in  progress,  and has  dealt with  issues                                                               
that would come  up in the absence of law  enforcement.  Mr. Mayo                                                               
was  able  to confront  the  active  shooter  and talk  him  down                                                               
unharmed,  convincing him  to hand  over both  his rifle  and his                                                               
children.   Mr. Mayo  delivered the  shooter's children  to their                                                               
grandmother  and  took possession  of  the  rifle that  had  been                                                               
pointed at  him.  He informed  the committee that these  types of                                                               
occurrences were "all too common."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:21:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAYO  has been  involved  with  the  VPSO program  from  the                                                               
beginning, he stated.   He said he remembered  troopers, and then                                                               
constables, coming  out, and then  the VPSO program  around 1980.                                                               
A lot of local  men and a few local women,  Native members of the                                                               
village, hired on,  he said.  It made sense  to have local people                                                               
who  had their  own homes  and transportation,  and in  the 1980s                                                               
there were 17  officers, almost all Native  community members, he                                                               
related.    There  were  one   or  two  outsiders  at  first,  he                                                               
continued, who were  greatly esteemed by the  community, but soon                                                               
all local  folks were burned out  by the job's stresses  and they                                                               
could not continue.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAYO  said that  advertisements  were  put out  for  outside                                                               
recruits, but those recruits had to  be told there was no housing                                                               
except  for temporary  places not  big enough  for families,  and                                                               
there would  be no  running water  or sewer,  only an  oil stove.                                                               
Outside recruits  would also have  to be informed that  there was                                                               
no  holding  cell   available  and  no  backup.     Pay  was  not                                                               
competitive with the  Anchorage Police Force or  the Alaska State                                                               
Troopers.  In  the Tanana Chiefs Conference region,  there are 34                                                               
communities.  Currently four officers  are employed with one more                                                               
in the  works, he added.   Four villages have a  house, a holding                                                               
cell,  and an  office space,  and that  is where  the four  VPSOs                                                               
currently  are, he  explained.   This  is not  a coincidence,  he                                                               
added.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:25:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAYO  related that  there are 28  villages with  no available                                                               
housing, 10  of which have offices.   Ten have holding  cells; 14                                                               
do not,  he related.   When someone is  arrested and there  is no                                                               
home, office,  or holding cell,  a place  must be found  in which                                                               
the prisoner may  be supervised, not left alone for  more than 15                                                               
minutes.  The troopers will know  but they may be called away, so                                                               
the person  holding the prisoner  may be tasked with  keeping the                                                               
prisoner  and him/herself  safe for  days.   The prisoner  may be                                                               
secured to  a bench, he  offered, and  must be fed,  given water,                                                               
and  given bathroom  breaks,  all while  the  person holding  the                                                               
prisoner cannot  sleep, because you  have a prisoner and  you are                                                               
responsible.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAYO explained that some  volunteers in the village may bring                                                               
food  or  otherwise help,  and  the  person responsible  for  the                                                               
prisoner could  get some sleep  when the  trooper came in  with a                                                               
plane to get the prisoner.   There might be another call right at                                                               
that moment, however,  he stated, leading to  extreme fatigue and                                                               
exhaustion.  Mr. Mayo related that  the villages do not have even                                                               
the rudimentary depictions  of police in cowboy  movies, and that                                                               
even as  a child  he knew what  basic law  enforcement facilities                                                               
would  look like.   He  stated that  that needed  to be  improved                                                               
upon.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:28:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAYO  told the  committee that if  someone shows  interest in                                                               
the position  from the  Lower 48,  and due  diligence is  done to                                                               
ensure that  person is not  bringing unnecessary problems  to the                                                               
villages, and  the person is hired  on, it has happened  that the                                                               
person has  turned and  walked away  upon seeing  the conditions.                                                               
One VPSO,  after training,  quit to work  with the  University of                                                               
Fairbanks because he  got a better deal, and it  is likewise very                                                               
hard  to retain  VPSOs  to the  point where  money  given to  the                                                               
program is  turned away because  it is so difficult  to determine                                                               
what to  do with it, Mr.  Mayo said.  He  asked committee members                                                               
rhetorically  what they  would do  [if dealt]  these cards.   The                                                               
program  is structured  so rovers  could move  around, which  DPS                                                               
allowed  for a  while, until  someone  realized the  law did  not                                                               
permit it,  and the VPSO  was yanked  back.  Mr.  Mayo reiterated                                                               
that there were 34 villages with no facilities.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAYO  told the committee that  if he could, he  would take HB                                                               
287 and put it under his pillow  so he could sleep well.  When he                                                               
read  HB 287  and  realized  there could  be  flexibility in  the                                                               
program  and  how  money  was  spent, he  said  he  was  able  to                                                               
determine right then that it would  be manageable.  He added that                                                               
there  are  key  aspects  therein that  have  made  compacting  a                                                               
glowing success for tribes and  tribal organizations all over the                                                               
nation, but  especially in  Alaska, where  public safety  is even                                                               
more  of a  challenge  than other  places.   Mr.  Mayo urged  the                                                               
committee to support HB 287.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
[HB 287 was held over.]                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:33:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Tribal Affairs meeting was adjourned at                                                                    
9:33 a.m.                                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 287 Sectional Analysis ver K.pdf HTRB 3/3/2020 8:00:00 AM
HTRB 3/5/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 287
HB 287 Sponsor Statement v. K 3.3.2020.pdf HJUD 3/11/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 3/13/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 3/16/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 3/18/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 3/20/2020 1:00:00 PM
HTRB 3/3/2020 8:00:00 AM
HTRB 3/5/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 287
ATU Resolution 2019-06.pdf HTRB 3/3/2020 8:00:00 AM
ATU HB287 Support letter.pdf HTRB 3/3/2020 8:00:00 AM
HTRB 3/5/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 287
HB 287 Presentation.pdf HTRB 3/3/2020 8:00:00 AM
HTRB 3/5/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 287
ADOPTED VPSO Working Group Report Recommendations & Findings.pdf HTRB 3/3/2020 8:00:00 AM
Fiscal Note CRA.pdf HTRB 3/3/2020 8:00:00 AM
Fiscal Note Training Academy.pdf HTRB 3/3/2020 8:00:00 AM
Fiscal Note VPSO Program.pdf HTRB 3/3/2020 8:00:00 AM
Fiscal Note Criminal Justice Information Systems Program.pdf HTRB 3/3/2020 8:00:00 AM