Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/15/1995 09:07 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
MINUTES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE March 15, 1995 9:07 a.m. TAPES SFC-95, #12, Side 2, (575-end) SFC-95, #14, Side 1, (000-575) SFC-95, #14, Side 2, (575-750) CALL TO ORDER Senator Rick Halford, Co-chair, convened the meeting at approximately 9:07 a.m. PRESENT Co-chair Halford, Senators Phillips, Rieger and Zharoff were present. Senators Sharp and Donley joined shortly after the meeting began. Co-chair Frank arrived later into the meeting. Also Attending: Senator Miller, Dan Fauske, CEO/Executive Director, Alaska Housing Finance Corp.; Ron Swanson, Director, Division of Land, Dept. Natural Resources; Margot Knuth, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Dept. of Law; Mike Greany, Director, Legislative Finance; Donna Schultz, Juvenile Probation Officer, Family Youth Services, Dept. Health & Social Services; Joe Ambrose, Legislative Aide to Senator Taylor; and Mary Vollendorf, Legislative Aide to Senator Leman. SUMMARY INFORMATION SB 93 DISPOSAL OF LAND ALONG THE DALTON HWY Discussion was had with Senator Miller and Ron Swanson, Director, Division of Land, Dept. Natural Resources. CSSB14 (RES) was REPORTED OUT of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and zero fiscal note from the Dept. of Natural Resources. SB 6 LICENSING/REGISTRATION SUSPENSION/DENIAL Discussion was has with Joe Ambrose, Legislative Aide to Senator Taylor. This bill will be brought back before the Committee Friday, March 17th. SB 14 INCREASED PENALTIES FOR JOYRIDING Discussion was had with Margot Knuth, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Dept. of Law; Mary Vollendorf, Legislative Aide to Senator Leman; and Donna Schultz, Juvenile Probation Officer, Family Youth Services, Dept. of Health & Social Services. CSSB14 (JUD) was REPORTED OUT of committee with a "do pass" recommendation, with the following fiscal notes: Dept. of Administration, $104.6; Dept. of Law, $81.7; Dept. of Corrections, zero; Dept. of Public Safety - Troopers, zero; Dept. of Public Safety - Motor Vehicles, $96.4; and Alaska Court System, $55.0. SB 92 AHFC SUBJECT TO EXEC. BUDGET ACT Discussion was had with Dan Fauske, CEO/Executive Director, Alaska Housing Finance Corp. Testimony is attached. SB 92 was REPORTED OUT of committee with a zero fiscal note. SENATE BILL NO. 93 "An Act relating to the disposal of state land along the Dalton Highway; and providing for an effective date." Co-chair Halford invited Senator Miller to sit at the table. Senator Miller is the sponsor of SB 93 and was given the floor. He explained that SB 93 does not have a fiscal note, and has passed out of Resources with a committee substitute. The Dalton Highway is open to public travel creating a continuing need for more development along the highway. SB 93 would allow for leasing within already identified nodes, to include the Yukon River Crossing, Happy Valley, Coldfoot, and Franklin Bluffs. The procedures provide for public review. The leasing covers the areas where existing pipeline camps existed. The areas are well established. Mr. Swanson from the Dept. of Natural Resources supports SB 93. SB 93 will allow for development, but not strip development. Senator Zharoff asked who is presently maintaining the highway. Senator Miller answered that the Department of Transportation is maintaining the highway. Senator Phillips asked how many services are in existence, at the present time, along that area of the highway. Senator Miller responded that Coldfoot offers food, gas, tire changing, etc. Senator Phillips asked how many miles between stops? Mr. Swanson, responded between 75 - 150 miles between the various service points. Senator Phillips asked how disposal would be handled? Mr. Swanson answered that there is an adopted federal land use plan in place. The bill has restrictions for commercial and industrial disposal. He spoke of the task force ongoing between federal and state agencies with the hope to make their recommendations become the state land use plan for implementation. Senator Phillips asked for particulars in obtaining the land. Mr. Swanson replied that the application requests vary from 5 to 40 acres, for lease or purchase. He noted that surveying and appraising is a requirement of the applicant without a time limit. Senator Rieger moved for passage of CSSB 93 (RES) with individual recommendations. No objection having been raised, CSSB 93 (RES) was REPORTED OUT of committee with a zero fiscal note from the Department of Natural Resources. SENATE BILL NO. 6 "An Act relating to registration of a motor vehicle and suspension of a driver's license for failure to appear in court or failure to pay a fine." Senator Halford announced Joe Ambrose from Senator Taylor's office and asked him to join the committee. Mr. Ambrose stated that Senator Taylor is the sponsor of SB 6. It is designed to provide the court system and municipalities throughout Alaska with additional leverage in the collection of fines relating to moving vehicle citations and parking offenses. He also stated that it applies to an individual who fails to appear in court as ordered. This legislation passed the Senate last year on a 17 - 3 vote as SB 166. SB 6 would be a valuable tool for use by the courts in addressing the problems created by those who choose to ignore the law, especially those who fail to make court ordered appearances or to pay fines imposed by the court. The bill is based on statutes from other states. The experience in the State of Washington indicates that over 50% of those who receive notice of possible sanctions, clear up outstanding matters within a week. SB 6 ties together the failure to settle moving violations to the drivers license, and parking violations to vehicle registration. This mirrors the California law. A new fiscal note from the Department of Public Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles indicates a change for additional leased office space for $10.0. The bill continues to be a generator of revenue based on the renewal fees for a suspended license. Co-chair Halford noted that the change from $104.8 to $114.6 is reasonable. Senator Phillips noted a situation that involved a Chugiak resident who received a ticket and was to appear before the court. He claims that he did not receive notice to appear before court due to an incorrect address. Mr. Ambrose responded that this is an option for the court, it is not mandatory. He mentioned that there are over 25,000 outstanding moving violations fines in a given year. The court system was working on the assumption that approximately 10% of those would fall into this system. Mr. Ambrose stated that Senator Taylor's office has received a response from the parking ferries. There have been several POM's generated. The opposition is not to the overall thrust of the bill, but rather to Section 2 which applies to unpaid parking fines and would lead to non- renewal of the vehicle registration. The area of concern is in Anchorage, and in particular, the Anchorage Parking Authority. Section 2 was included last year at the suggestion of several municipal attorneys. The sponsor does not take great ownership in this section, and if it were deleted he would not be upset. Senator Rieger supports the amendment and asked what it would do to the fiscal note. He stated that the Anchorage Parking Authority cites for improper placement or tagging of license plates. Senator Donley stated that he has a draft amendment, and recommended holding the bill. He stated that there is a problem when ticketed by the Anchorage Parking Authority, in that there are no appellate rights. A prohibitive fee is required to challenge the ticket. When ticketed by a peace officer or a state trooper, one has the right to go to court and defend themselves. He stated that when people are ticketed, based on state rules, they should be provided with the same due process that the state provides. Senator Zharoff asked if Alaska would have reciprocity with other states regarding the parking and moving violations. Mr. Ambrose responded that he didn't know about parking violations, but that there is an existing arrangement whereby, if the State runs a records check and there is an outstanding warrant, out-of-state, it can be executed. Senator Zharoff then quoted Section 3, "When the person appears in court or pays the required fine, the court shall terminate the suspension imposed under this subsection and provide the department and the person with written notice of the termination." He noted that this process is very slow. He stated that what should take minutes, often takes weeks or months. He asked if this particular problem could be remedied? Mr. Ambrose stated that he could not fix that problem in this bill. Mr. Ambrose reiterated that the intent of the legislation is to give the court additional leverage. If there is a failure to appear in court, the court at this time can issue a warrant. The fact remains that there are so many of these cases that it does not happen. Senator Donley issued his proposed amendment. Co-chair Halford asked if there was conflict in his amendment insofar as removing Section 2 from SB 6. Senator Donley responded there was no conflict. Senator Phillips moved to delete Section 2 from SB 6. No objection having been raised, Section 2 has been deleted from the bill and will be reflected in a CS. Discussion was had on Senator Donley's proposed amendment. Co-chair Halford asked that Senators Zharoff and Donley work with Senator Taylor in redrafting the bill. The committee agreed to hold the bill to the next meeting, Friday, March 17th. SENATE BILL NO. 14 "An Act relating to criminal mischief." Mary Vollendorf, Legislative Aide to Senator Leman presented testimony on SB 14. (Testimony attached to minutes.) Margot Knuth, Criminal Division, Department of Law, testified the problem has been in the increase in joyriding in Anchorage which has doubled in the last two years. Half of those offenses have been committed by juveniles. The question is, what can be done to impose meaningful sanction? The most important feature of this bill is that it makes joyriding an offense for which driving privileges can be revoked. This is expected to have a deterrent effect for juveniles in particular. It is possible to waive a multi- offending juvenile to adult court for felony purposes if, there was a desire to go through the petition for waiver proceeding. She noted that in 47.10.010, which allows minors to be prosecuted as an adult in district court, there is an exception for felonies. The law states that with a felony waiver provision there would be no basis for excluding the juveniles. End Tape #12, Side 2 (575-end) Begin Tape #14, Side 1 (000-575) Senator Donley asked for further explanation. Ms. Knuth responded that the criminal mischief statute which, if the defendant has caused more than $500 damage, is a felony. In a juvenile, prosecution would go through Family Youth Services. Or, file the petition for waiver to adult court under the separate offense of criminal mischief, which is taking the vehicle and causing more than $500 worth of damage. That is separate from joyriding which doesn't involve any damage to the vehicle. That is one way to get to adult court with the juvenile, the other is through theft rather than joyriding. Senator Donley asked how the court system will allow this since a specific statute says, "if they steal a car and they are under 18, it is not a felony." Ms. Knuth responded that the state does not have a strong desire to be prosecuting these cases as felons. It is expensive. The case needs to go to the grand jury and in those cases they are going to be litigated more vigorously. The state prefers that in dealing with juveniles, it is made a misdemeanor in district court, which would be handled in a more routine way. She stated that for over 99% of the joyriding cases with juveniles, the state does not want them as felons, but rather in district court. Senator Rieger wanted to understand how the bill was drafted and drew attention to section 1 and 3. Ms. Knuth stated that those under 18 years of age would not appear in district court as an adult. She stated that in section 3, it specifies that 18 or older for this offense before the mandatory 3 day jail sentence would apply. If under the age of 18, sentencing could be applied to a period of incarceration, but would not be in jail with adults. There is no mandatory sentence for juvenile offenders. She went on to say that there are two processes available when there is a juvenile. One, is going through the juvenile process system, and the other is being waived to adult court. If a juvenile had been waived to adult court for a joyriding offense and it was the second offense, they would be treated as a felon. But, there would be a special arduous petition for a waiver process where this state has the burden of proving that the juvenile is not amenable to treatment, etc. Most of the joyriding offenders under the age of 18 have been going through the juvenile process. They do not go into district court, but rather superior court. The proceedings are closed and does not result in a criminal conviction on their record. The only way to get a criminal conviction is if there was a petition for waiver. She stated that it is unlikely that a juvenile would be waived to adult court on a single joyriding offense. Co-chair Frank joined the committee. Senator Zharoff asked the definition of joyriding. Ms. Knuth responded that joyriding is referred to as criminal mischief. Statute 11.46.484(a)(2) states, "the person drives, tows away, or takes the propelled vehicle of another". This is distinguished from theft because it is not required to prove an intent of permanently depriving the owner of the vehicle. Senator Donley questioned the fiscal impact on juveniles since there is no room within the jail facilities at this time. Ms. Knuth responded that there is no anticipation to give the juveniles time to serve for the joyriding offense. Hence, it's a property offense, it is likely to be a first offense and the sentence would probably be a suspended term with an order of restitution, and revocation of driving privileges. She clarified "restitution" by stating that, 12.55.045(e) specifies,"If a defendant is convicted of criminal mischief in the third degree in violation of AS 11.46.484(a)(2), and the victim of the offense incurs damage or loss as a result of the offense, the court shall order the defendant to pay restitution." She added, that it applies to juveniles as well as adults. Senator Donley wanted to know if there was a fiscal note from the Department of Corrections? He said, there is a statement that says the court system expects 450 cases. If this bill is to send a message to the juveniles that joyriding is no longer going to be tolerated, then incarceration for repeat offenders when not imposed, makes the bill pointless. He then stressed that if the intent is not to incarcerate, even though there has been a conviction of a misdemeanor, what is the impact on the juvenile system? Ms. Knuth responded that Senator Donley's question presupposes that the system is not working. She stressed there are not many repeat offenders or those that abuse the probation system. In order to get to the point of incarceration, the offender is a repeater, or has failed to comply with the conditions of probation. Most joyriding incidences are a single event. Joyriding is not the starting offense that leads people down the path of criminal acts. Co-chair Halford stated simply that he disagreed with everything Ms. Knuth just stated. Senator Donley says that the information that he has received from his constituents is that these are repeat offenders and they are not being treated seriously. Senator Rieger asked for an explanation of restitution with or without the bill. Ms. Knuth responded that if the matter is handled as a juvenile proceeding, none of the criminal code applies. Restitution does not apply, revocation of driving privileges does not apply, and appearing in front of a judge does not apply. These offenders will receive an adult conviction, they will go before the judge with possible consequences of: pay restitution, suspended jail sentence, loose their driving privileges, permanent funds dividends can be attached for the payment of the restitution. These are not consequences experienced in the past. There are too many juveniles to go through superior court petitions. The problem is the exploding population. District court is uniquely set up to process cases in an efficient manner. Co-chair Frank asked if there are statistics regarding repeat offenders? Donna Schultz, Juvenile Probation Officer youth had been charged with criminal mischief. Those with prior offenses totalled 12. Statewide joyriders totalled 2400, 1200 of those are juvenile offenders and 600 are from the Anchorage. Joyriding is a crime of opportunity. She stated that joyriding has doubled in two years. Co-chair Halford inquired how the municipality of Anchorage is handling joyriders now. Ms. Knuth responded that as a misdemeanor offense Anchorage has a similar statute to our criminal mischief for adult joyriding offenses. Anchorage cases number 600 a year. Co-chair asked how the decision is made to prosecute under municipal ordinance versus state? Ms. Knuth said that if the municipality has a statute regarding the crime and prosecutors to handle the case, they will take it on. This is not true for all municipalities. Co-chair Halford directed attention to page 1, section 1, line 5. What would the effect be on changing the word of "or" to "and"? Ms. Knuth responded that it would take the second offender juvenile and made it a felony. She stated that if this bill does not have an effect on joyriding, then something else needs to be tried. However, this bill is a big step forward. Ms. Knuth reported that the "Use It/Loose It" was a legislative measure passed last year targeting juveniles drinking. This has proven to be effective. Juveniles are going to the same parties in Juneau, and now they are drinking root beer instead of beer because they do not want to loose their driving licenses. There have been similar reports from around the state. The threat of jail has never been a deterrent, probably because like other criminals they think they are not going to be caught. With "Use It/Loose It", we have a much higher catch rate. Senator Donley stated that he supports the bill. However, he does not want others to get the wrong message. There is no fiscal note from the Department of Corrections because they assume no juveniles will be incarcerated. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because if they don't add any facilities to deal with this, the judges have no place to send the juveniles, so they in turn are not going to incarcerate them. Restitution is a good step forward, but the public should not think this is going to mean that juveniles are going to serve hard time for this because they are not going to have any place to send them. Senator Donley made a motion to MOVE CSSB14(JUD) with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. No objection having been raised, CSSB14(JUD) was REPORTED OUT of committee with the following fiscal notes: Dept. of Public Safety/Dept. Motor Vehicles, $96.4; Dept. Public Safety/Troopers, zero; Dept. of Corrections, zero; Department of Law, $81.7; Court System, $55.0. Co-chairs Halford and Frank along with Senators Rieger and Sharp signed with a "do pass". Senators Zharoff and Phillips signed with "no recommendation". SENATE BILL NO. 92 "An Act requiring that, in addition to its operating budget, all activities of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation are subject to the Executive Budget Act." Co-chair Halford announced that by the request of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, SB 92 is submitted. Senator Phillips explained that Senators Sharp, Frank, Rieger and himself served on the LB&A Committee and that the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. and Alaska Railroad were left out of their bill last year. This bill adds AHFC. Discussion was had on the Alaska Railroad, and it was decided to create a new bill. Co-chair Halford asked Dan Fauske, CEO/Executive Director, Alaska Housing Finance Corp to join the committee. Mr. Fauske testified to the committee (testimony attached). Co-chair Frank thanked Mr. Fauske for his comments. Historically, the programs were not included in the original legislation. The legislature has had confidence in AHFC's ability to handle political and arbitrary decisions. He stressed that he meant not just Mr. Fauske, but the institution which includes the bond counsel and professional contractors, and staff. Senator Frank does not view the inclusion of AHFC in the budget act as being overly burdensome, it is hoped that it will improve the relationship between the agency and the legislature. He added, in addition to the items Mr. Fauske mentioned, the relationship between AHFC and the legislature has been strained over the years. He added that there has not been a vehicle for discussion. The legislature spends a lot of time communicating with other state agencies. An understanding is developed through the budget process of their programs. Over time, communication is improved. Co- chair Frank emphasized that the agency may view it as a threat, but, it is an opportunity to improve the working relationship between the agency and the legislature. The legislature will not want to take action that will be contrary to the purposes of the statutes, programs, and purposes of AHFC. The legislature does want to understand what goes on and wants to have an improved opportunity to work with the agency to make sure that the purposes are carried out. He stressed that it is not the legislature's purpose to cut any agency out. He noted that if the legislature does not receive cooperation, then the view may be that decisions are more rash. Co-chair Frank stated that he supports bringing this legislation into the budget process and improve the relationship between the agency and the legislature. Otherwise, he said, there would be many, he included, who would not be interested in supporting a capital or operating budget for this agency. Senator Rieger questioned Mr. Fauske's testimony. He asked if he opposed the inclusion into the executive budget act suggesting that it would hinder AHFC's operation. Mr. Fauske responded that he is not beyond being scrutinized, but his review in the short time he has been there is that currently there was $790,000,000. in loans and activity which occurred through that agency. Currently, the amount this year is $385,000,000. He stated his confusion, wanting to know if it is capped. He asked, does the agency stop at some point denying itself access to the market for refinancing and lowering people's mortgages. This has been a very successful program. He asked, how does the agency improve on past performance? He stressed he welcomed the review and indicated that next to the permanent fund this is Alaska's most important asset. He noted that he wants to be perceived in some capacity of success, mainly being opened to the process which takes place allowing people to participate. Again, his concern is, how does this become structured so that there isn't a stoppage at a critical point in the market? Co-chair Frank indicated that it was not the legislature's intent to stifle the agency. He suggested it could be handled with general authority which is not dollar specific, or through the LB&A process, requesting additional increases from the established dollar maximum. The legislature is interested in finding a way to make it work and not to thwart the programs of AHFC. This legislation is not meant to be negative, it is meant to be supportive. Mr. Fauske stated that he needed to receive clarity from the committee on a potential problem. In the past, programs have gone into various districts without the representatives even aware it was coming in. He indicated he was stating a criticism of the agency, that it has not been forthcoming in dealing with Representatives or Senators of certain areas. Co-chair Frank responded that there was no truth to that and it has a lot to do with activities outside the budget process. In the budget process the legislators are tuned into what state government is doing. If a legislator is sitting on the Finance Committee, there is a definite understanding of everything. If a legislator is not presiding on the Finance Committee, then there will be requests from the constituency for information, which does heighten the awareness for those programs. Senator Phillips asked if Mr. Fauske was speaking to the 5% money? If it was passed by AHFC, and implemented to the public, are you saying that legislators did not receive the information before, or know about the program before it hit the streets? Mr. Fauske responded that he was not speaking of the 5%, which could be another example. Specifically, he was speaking to major HUD funded projects for senior centers, and others that have come into various regions. Senator Phillips and the committee spoke to the 5% funds. Senator Rieger stated that making the agency subject to the executive budget act, may not totally eliminate misunderstandings. AHFC statutes have provisions for establishing programs by regulation. Mr. Fauske assured the committee that it is his intent to open up the communication. That is not to say that all problems are solved, but the agency is striving hard not to repeat past mistakes. Senator Rieger asked if Mr. Fauske would oppose legislation resplitting the AHFC from ASHA? Mr. Fauske responded that historically, and as an individual who worked for the institution on the North Slope, efforts to develop a housing program did not materialize. Dealing with ASHA was impossible. Regulations were a problem. There were three and four generations living in one house. Conventional banking loans were not available. In essence nothing was working. It took 4 years to finally turn it around. He stressed that if it means going back to that, he opposes it. He stated there are a great many people in this state who do not have the same access as some of the urban areas or technically advanced rural areas, and literally are shut off from the entire process. ASHA, in those days, went through appropriations from the state, the regulations were so heavy, the agency could never get around anything. ASHA was in poor standing with HUD at the time, and that was one of the reasons why it was important to create this comprehensive unit that functioned better. He felt that this has been accomplished when he talks to staff and outside agencies. He stated that he would oppose it unless there were assurances that it would not result in those circumstances again. Discussion was had regarding communication and travel during the out of session months. Co-chair Frank MOVED for passage of SB 92 with individual recommendations. No objection having been raised, SB 92 was REPORTED OUT of committee with a zero fiscal note from the Department of Revenue. Co-chairs Halford and Frank, along with Senators Rieger, Phillips, Donley and Sharp signed the committee report with a "do pass" recommendation. Senator Zharoff signed "no recommendation". Co-chair Halford announced that SB 6 would be revisited Friday, March 17th. ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:50 a.m.