Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/23/1995 09:30 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
MINUTES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE March 23, 1995 9:30 a.m. TAPES SFC-95, #20, (000-575) SFC-95, #20, (575-end) CALL TO ORDER Senator Rick Halford, Co-chair, convened the meeting at approximately 9:30 a.m. PRESENT Co-chairs Halford and Frank, Senators Phillips, Donley, Rieger, Sharp and Zharoff were present. Also Attending: Senator Ellis, Senator Salo, Senator Parnell, Margot Knuth, Attorney, Department of Law; Ron Swanson, Director, Division of Land, Department of Natural Resources; Wendy Redman, Vice President, University of Alaska; Juanita Hensley, Department Public Safety, Driver Services; and Tom Waldo, Attorney, Sierra Club Legal Defense. SUMMARY INFORMATION SB 67 UNLAWFUL EVASIONS CLASS A MISDEMEANOR Discussion was had by Senator Ellis, and Margot Knuth. SB 67 was REPORTED OUT of committee with a "do pass" recommendation by all members of the committee, with 3 zero fiscal notes from the Dept. of Administration, Dept. of Law, and Corrections. HB 27 DNA TESTING OF VIOLENT OFFENDERS Senator Parnell, sponsor of the bill presented his testimony. SB 27 was REPORTED OUT of committee with a "do pass" recommen- dation and 10 fiscal notes (see pages 3 and 4 for listing). SB 7 NO BAIL FOR FELONS W/PREVIOUS CONVICTIONS Discussion was had by Senator Salo and Margot Knuth. SB 7 was REPORTED OUT of committee with a "do pass" recommendation, with 5 zero notes (see page 6 for listing). SB 16 INCREASE LAND GRANT TO UNIV. OF ALASKA Testimony was given by Co-chair Frank; Wendy Redman, Vice President, University of Alaska; Tom Waldo, Attorney, Sierra Club; and Ron Swanson, Director, Division of Land, Department of Natural Resources. Co-chair Frank offered a conceptual amendment to reflect that University holdings, which are income producing, hold a taxable status. No objection having been raised, the amendment was ADOPTED. This bill will be taken up at the next meeting. SENATE BILL NO. 67 "An Act relating to the crime of unlawful evasion." Co-chair Halford invited Senator Ellis to join the committee. Senator Ellis testified that this legislation is an effort to increase the penalties for escape, or walk- aways, from a half-way house facility. He said there is agreement among the professionals and the neighborhood activists that the penalty is not sufficient for misdemeanants, in those facilities, to keep them from walking away. This is a documented problem. He stated that in FY 92 there were 49 walk-aways, in FY 93 there were 23, in FY 94 there were 68, and in FY 95 there have been 31 walk-aways. Senator Ellis noted that there are documented cases resulting in drunk driving deaths, drug deals, and firearm violations, to name a few. There is general agreement that the penalty for felons who walk away from a facility should be a class A misdemeanor. He cited a personal experience that he had encountered with the Anchorage police department. Senator Rieger questioned the definition and statute of a half-way house. He felt that the language may be loose. Senator Ellis testified that there has not been a need to tighten up the language on this bill. Margot Knuth, Department of Law, Criminal Division, supports this bill. She stated it will not add fiscal impact to the Department of Law. It does not cost any more to prosecute a Class A misdemeanor than a Class B misdemeanor. Senator Zharoff asked for explanation in Section 4, line 26. Ms. Knuth responded that it states the unlawful evasion in the second degree that exists now. This legislation will create one offense of unlawful evasion and will no longer have both in the first degree and in the second degree. All of the same conduct that is now covered by unlawful evasion in the first and second degree will be covered in the single crime of unlawful evasion. This bill will have the effect of repealing AS 11.56.350, so that it will become AS 11.56.340. Co-chair Halford spoke to the fiscal notes attached to this bill. He stated that with an additional penalty, it would appear that the departments are willing to absorb the costs. Senator Phillips MOVED to pass SB 67 with individual recommendations. No objection having been raised, SB 67 was REPORTED OUT of committee with three fiscal notes from the Dept. of Administration, Dept. of Law, and Corrections. Co- chairs Halford and Frank, along with the full committee, Senators Rieger, Phillips, Donley, Zharoff and Sharp recommended "do pass". HOUSE BILL NO. 27 "An Act directing the Department of Public Safety to establish and maintain a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) identification registration system and requiring DNA registration by persons convicted of a felony sex offense; and providing for an effective date." Co-chair Halford invited Representative Parnell to join the committee. Rep. Parnell as the sponsor to HB 27 testified that the legislation establishes a DNA data bank within the Department of Public Safety. Essentially, this will enable Alaska to become the 33rd State to collect blood samples from violent felons. The Department of Public Safety would be contracting with the Department of Corrections to take samples from the felons. The samples would be catalogued and stored by the Department of Public Safety. After three years there would be a data bank of samples ready for typing for DNA matching in violent crime scenes. It is particularly useful in sexual offenses. The FBI has software which will allow Alaska to check the data in existence throughout the United States. He testified that it would work the same as fingerprinting. Senator Donley inquired if this applied to first degree arson? Representative Parnell responded that arson is the only property crime that it does apply to, because the elements of first degree arson include endangering a human being. Senator Donley asked how the bill would apply to juveniles? Rep. Parnell responded that it applies to juveniles 16 years and older who have been adjudicated delinquent for these crimes. Senator Rieger asked how the DNA data bank works? Rep. Parnell responded that the blood sample is stored on swatches of clothe. DNA typing is done with this sampling and stored on software. Senator Phillips MOVED to pass SCSCSHB 27(JUD) with individual recommendations. No objection having been raised, HB 27 was REPORTED OUT of committee with 10 fiscal notes as follows: Dept. Public Safety, Info. Net, $20.0; Dept. of Law, -0-; Dept. of Public Safety, Lab. Serv. $25.8; Dept. Public Safety, Records, $11.0; Dept. Health & Social Services, Johnson/Juno, -0-; Dept. Health & Social Services, Nome, -0- ; Dept. Health & Social Services, Fbks, $0.3; Dept. Health & Social Services, McLaughlin, $1.6; Dept. Health & Social Services, Bethel, $0.1; Alaska Judicial Council, $1.2. Total $60.0. Co-chairs Halford and Frank along with Senators Rieger, Phillips and Sharp recommended "do pass". Senators Zharoff and Donley signed "no recommendation". SENATE BILL NO. 7 "An Act relating to bail after conviction for various felonies if the defendant has certain previous felony convictions." Co-chair Halford invited Senator Salo to join the committee. Senator Salo, as sponsor of SB 7, testified that it is identical to the legislation completed last year as SB 228. This legislation is to add to the list of offenses for which bail is not available. Currently, those convicted of an Unclassified or Class A felony are prohibited of having bail following conviction. This would prohibit the release on bail following conviction for those defendants who have been convicted of a Class B or C felony, and who have a previous conviction for an Unclassified or Class A felony. In general, this adds to the lists of crimes for which bail would be denied. She noted that last year SB 228 passed the Senate 19-0 vote. SB 7 carries 5 zero fiscal notes. She stated that based on whether the time of incarceration is now or later, there is no additional cost. Senator Salo defined the statutes mentioned in the bill: AS 11.41.260, stalking in the first degree; AS 11.41.420 through AS 11.41.425, sexual assault in the second or third degree, a Class B or C felony; and, AS 11.41.436 through AS 11.41.438, sexual abuse of a minor in the second or third degree, a Class B or C felony. Margo Knuth, Department of Law, Criminal Section, stated the purpose of this legislation is to deny bail to the individual who has been convicted of a crime, and is awaiting an appeal. Existing law allows that as an Unclassified felony or a Class A felony, bail is denied. She said that a conviction as a Class B or C felony, which is a lesser offense, should still deny bail. She cited a case in Kenai: The offender had a conviction for sexual assault, subsequently was prosecuted for burglary, appealed the conviction and was released on bail. While that appeal was pending, he raped another person. This bill will prohibit judges from making such a mistake again. Senator Salo cited the case that was the impetus for this bill. She said the offender had a previous list of convictions both in Alaska and California that was very extensive, including statutory rape. His crime, before the court, was a felony drug offense. He was convicted. Pending an appeal, he was released on $5,000 bail. While out on bail, he raped 2 women. Those are two women whose lives are forever changed, by an offender who should not have been out on bail. That is a mistake that should not be made again. She stated, it was this man's background that made him dangerous relative to his being released on bail. This is the reasoning behind not limiting the bill to a crime against the person. The bill is defining a conduct dangerous enough, to keep them off the streets. Senator Sharp stated he is against designing laws for a specific situation. He asked if this person was on parole or probation from a previous crime when he was arrested? Senator Rieger asked how felonies track on record. Ms. Knuth stated that felonies stay on a record for a lifetime. When a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) is completed, law enforcement is aware that there were felony proceedings, but it would not count as a prior conviction for purposes of presumptive sentencing. Anyone who successfully completed the SIS would not be effected by this legislation. Co-chair Halford asked Ms. Knuth if it could be written to say that as a matter of policy there will be no bail on appeal following conviction? Ms. Knuth responded that she did not know the answer to that question. Senator Sharp said he could support a universal application of no bail after a second conviction of a felon. Ms. Knuth clarified that after the first conviction, for an Unclassified or Class A felony, there is no bail pending appeal. Meaning, if there is assault in the first degree, sexual assault in the first degree, sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree, misconduct of drugs in the first degree, and if there is a conviction while appeal is pending, bail is denied. This is addressing those on second offenses. Ms. Knuth stated that even now, on first offenses, if they are Class A or Unclassified, bail is denied. This bill is saying that if it is a second felony conviction, and a defendant has one of the above convictions already, then the defendant will be placed in the same position on this new offense, even if it is a B or C felony. The second part to this, is the length of sentence that the defendant can be expected to receive. With a first-time conviction of a Class A or Unclassified offense, there is going to be a presumptive five, eight, or up to twenty years. On a first offense conviction of a Class B or C felony, it is likely there will be no jail time or minimal amount of jail time. But, when there is a prior felony conviction, then the presumptive sentencing scheme is in place for two years for Class C felony. Class B is 4 years. She reiterated that time served before sentencing will count toward the time required after sentencing. Senator Sharp questioned the zero fiscal notes. Ms. Knuth explained that the person convicted is going to spend time in jail as a matter of his sentence on the offense. Senator Salo interjected that the Department of Law reviewed 100 cases and found that 100% of the cases resulted in sentences of incarceration. She stated that annually the number of people that this will affect is a guess. Her guess is under 20. Senator Phillips MOVED for passage of SB 7 with individual recommendations. No objection having been raised, SB 7 was REPORTED OUT of committee with 5 zero fiscal notes from the Dept. of Administration, Dept. of Public Safety, Council on Domestic Violence, and Troopers, Dept. of Law, and Dept. of Corrections. Co-chairs Halford and Frank along with Senators Rieger, Phillips and Donley signed "do pass" recommendation. Senators Zharoff and Sharp signed "no recommendation". SENATE BILL NO. 16 "An Act relating to the University of Alaska and university land, authorizing the University of Alaska to select additional state public domain land, and defining net income from the University of Alaska's endowment trust fund as 'university receipts' subject to prior legislative appropriation." Co-chair Frank, as sponsor of SB 16, testified that this is the University land grant bill. He stated that last year the Senate did pass the bill on a 14-5 vote. The House had it on schedule, but did not get to it. The purpose of the bill is to increase the University's land grant. He cited that in most states, land grants support universities. The University of Alaska is a land-grant university. It was granted land prior to statehood and never did receive the entire amount that was entitled. The university currently has 112,000 acres. This bill would add one million acres. He stated that as the state oil revenues decline, greater pressure is placed on the state's general fund. To grant the university one million acres would allow them to develop lands to support their programs. It is consistent both with our constitutional requirement, that we develop our natural resources for the benefit of the people; and our constitutional mandate with regards to the university. He urged getting beyond the thought that the state has to own all the land. He supports allowing the university to increase its activities and further support its programs through a land grant. There are protections in the bill. The university cannot take land that the state has already developed or targeted for development, or from the five year oil and gas program. In the final analysis, the Commissioner of Natural Resources has the final say and any appeal would be to the governor, not to the courts. There is no opportunity for the courts to file action. It is basically a situation where, the Dept. of Natural Resources and the governor, ultimately would make the final decision on which million acres are transferred. Co-chair Frank asked for favorable consideration. Senator Phillips spoke to Section 6. Co-chair Frank stated that the university would like to keep lands open to public use. The university wants to allow people to continue to hunt, fish and recreate on their lands. Section 6 speaks to the protection required so the University will not be held liable for personal injuries, death or property damage which occurs on their land. If the university is guilty of reckless, intentional misconduct, then they would be in a position to be held liable for those acts. Co-chair Halford asked how much revenue the university generates now from the 140,000 acres? Co-chair Frank responded that the university has become increasingly active in developing their lands. It took a long time to finally get their land grant. The process has not gone as quickly as they would have liked, but they are increasingly active. Co-chair Halford invited Tom Waldo, attorney, Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, to join the committee. Mr. Waldo testified that SB 16 creates conditions that can lead to the same conflict and litigation as in the Mental Health Trust Lands. When congress passed the Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act, it dictated it had to be used for Mental Health programs. In the 1970's the legislature decided that there were other uses for the land that were in the public interest and included: disposal to individuals for settlement purposes; disposal to municipalities for local government purposes, such as below-cost mineral leases to encourage development, or setting aside areas for public use, such as parks. Those uses violated the trust that congress had set up. It led to 12 years of divisive, costly litigation for the state. He stated that SB 16 will "tie your hands" in the same way that congress "tied your hands" with the Mental Health Enabling Act. It will prevent making the best decisions in the future for use of these lands. Remember that congress passed the Enabling Act in 1956 and 40 years later it is still an issue that we are struggling with. If SB 16 passes, 40 years from now and beyond, legislatures and the public, will still be dealing with the implications and the loss of discretion in dealing with the lands. For those reasons the Sierra Club encourages you not to support SB 16. Co-chair Halford asked Wendy Redman, Vice President, Statewide University System, to join the committee. She testified that she is concerned that this bill has become so controversial. She spoke to the actual land grants for the University of Alaska as compared to the other universities in the other states within our nation. Land grants in other states do provide a large portion of the support for the state land grant universities. She stated that this legislation has been crafted in such a way to respond to all the considerations surrounding land grants for the university. The crafters have worked with the environmentalists to build in better public process, worked with hunters and fishermen to provide continuing access, have worked with the mining groups to provide for their interests and concerns. The environmental community wants the university land to be treated as public domain land. She stated that she could not fix that problem. She stated she could try to mitigate the problem by building in greater and greater public processes. She stated that 2% of the state land is in private ownership in Alaska. If the State of Alaska does not feel that more land should be in private ownership for development purposes, then the legislation should be voted against. The universities goal is to get more land into private ownership to development, encourage new revenue, and develop new land which would develop revenue. She stated that the argument last year was that it would off-set state general funds to the university. She stated that she would not want it to be a dollar for dollar off set because that leaves very little incentive to try to continue to develop the land. Ideally, over time, the goal is to create an endowment that would support a large portion, and free up other general funds that are currently going to the university. Senator Phillips asked if the total land grant is 112,000 or 140,000? Ms. Redman stated that the total land holdings of 140,000 includes some lands that were given to the establishment of the College of Agriculture and Mines, referred to as the Fairbanks campus lands which are managed as part of the trust, but not part of the actual land grant. Senator Phillips then cited a letter from Northern Alaska Environmental Center which stated, "political opposition could be substantial, especially as lands to be transferred are actually identified on the ground." In the letter, he states that they list the Alaska Miners Assoc., and the Resource Development Council. He asked if they have a position for or against the bill? Ms. Redman responded that originally the Research Development Council was reluctant to support the bill. Their feeling was that the university was not aggressive enough in developing the lands. They were concerned instead that the university had sold lands through Exxon to go in preserves and were not in support of that kind of development. Subsequently, they have been very supportive. She believes that they do have a position. With regards to the Miner's Assoc., last year they took a position, though not formal, that the status quo is perfect with the miners. They do not want any change, their concerns are that the university will be a different kind of landlord than the Department of Natural Resources, and they are correct. Co-chair Halford asked if the university sold land to the Exxon trust? Ms. Redman responded that the university did not sell land to the Exxon trust, but that there was a bill in the legislature 3 years ago (HB 16) which was ultimately vetoed. The university has a fiduciary interest and Exxon was offering cash, not to cut trees. They offered the same amount of money that we would have received from cutting the trees, so our interest was not supportive of that bill. She stated the university did not actively oppose the bill, and the RDC was upset. Subsequently, the university has negotiated on the timber land and are going forward this summer with a $15 million timber cut. Senator Phillips then spoke to the letter from the Anchorage Fish and Game Advisory Committee of the State of Alaska, quoting that: "annually the university gains $10 million from current land base, and of that, $7 million comes from a one-shot timber sale." Ms. Redman responded that over the past few years, $7 million has come from a major timber sale. Ms. Redman stated that the university did generate $10 million last year, but it does go up and down every year. The total cash in the land grant trust is at $30 million. This is an accumulation of the last 10 years. She stated other assets include $40 million in real estate. The total endowment is worth about $75 million. There is also a strong inflation proofing provision in the fund so that it is kicking off actual earnings to the university of about $3 million. From this, the university funds the land management office, and activities, so that the general fund can be used for development of the land. The balance is $2 million, which comes back to the university in program receipts as part of our budget. That's been given out through the Dept. of Natural Resources fund, which was established in statute by the legislature, defining that funds be used to support natural resources programs in the state. Ms. Redman stated that the university is heavily timbered and is looking for other sources of income such as subsurface rights, gravel, and recreational leases for lodges and hunting. The Board's position is very strong about not selling property. Although, there has been some property placed in subdivisions around the state and then sold. The Board prefers to keep the land for development. The university has offered oil exploration in the Mat-Su area, and land has been put up for auction for private ownerships in the Fairbanks and interior areas. Ron Swanson, Director, Division of Land, Dept. of Natural Resources, was asked to join the committee. He explained that "Muni Muni" refers to a lawsuit between the University and the State of Alaska when the State of Alaska conveyed all the university land to the municipality of Anchorage to fill their land entitlement. Ms. Redman interjected that in the original land settlement with the Mental Health Lands, university lands were commingled with state lands and were mismanaged by the state so that many of the university's valuable lands and property in Anchorage were given away with the entitlements. Co-chair Halford asked Mr. Swanson what the administration's position is toward this bill. He stated that the administration is opposed to this bill, though it is in support of the university receiving more land. It is felt that the land should come from the federal government, not from state lands. The administration is very willing to work with the university and go back to congress. He stated that the current political structure there is interested in disposing of various lands in various areas. Senator Phillips reiterated, in 1915 congress gave a land grant of 250,000 acres, in 1956 came the Mental Health Lands. Ms. Redman stated that the Mental Health Lands really had nothing to do with university land grants. At the time of statehood, The Statehood Act extinguished the land grant which had been given to the university at that time. The supporters of the extinguishment, at the time of statehood, said, "that because the state was clearly receiving more land from the federal government than imagined, that the state could keep the obligation to the university." That never happened. Ms. Redman stated that the president of the university, and she, were in Washington D.C. and met with the state's delegation on the issue of federal land. The university felt it would enhance its ability to get state land if it could come back with a federal package, such as, 5 federal acres for every one state acre. Senators Stevens and Young felt the timing was not appropriate, and for the federal government to be giving more land to the State of Alaska was not going to be a very popular notion. Discussion was had among the committee on the 1 million acres. Senators Phillips and Sharp indicated they could support 250,000 acres. Senator Zharoff could support 500,000 acres. Senator Sharp asked about the applicability of this bill with safeguards to prevent a delay in the utilization of lands from time of nomination to actual time of transfer. Ms. Redman noted that on page 5, line 16, the preference was to close entry for the university's protection during that period of time. Senator Sharp stated that experience has shown that the period of time has become extended, and in effect there would be no opportunity to use the land by private enterprise during the time of nomination and actual time of transfer. Mr. Swanson stated that when a selection is made from the federal government it also segregates the land so that the federal government cannot create something that we do not want. Within ANILCA we did create a provision that the state will allow the federal government to do something with our permission only. This could be written into this bill as well. Mr. Swanson urged conveyance from the federal government to the state. It would be desirable, if in the developing process, there would be a requirement of the developer to develop the land so that the state would not be burdened at a later time. Ms. Redman stated that conveyance has been provided by parameter surveys to accommodate that cost factor. It is the intent of the university to have the developer handle the full cost of surveying. Co-chair Halford asked about conveyance for eloquent parks. Do they require surveying? Mr. Swanson stated that in a municipality they would, but not in an unorganized borough. Senator Sharp stated he would prefer a "not withstanding (d) above" clause added just below item (d) on page 5. He suggested stating it in such a way as to allow the filings and utilization subject to university concurrence. Co-chair Halford suggested not closing it, that it remain open and when the university selects it, whatever the benefit of that use and entry is, it transfers to the university. So it wouldn't close to mineral entry under state leasing laws, but the state leasing laws would be to the benefit of the university versus the benefit of the state. Co-chair Frank proposed a conceptual amendment drafted to go with the bill. Co-chair Halford asked if there was any objection to amending the transition section that deals with closure to entry. Once the university makes the selection it is essentially the beneficial owner, that other activities are not stopped. Mr. Swanson helped out by saying that the language in ANILCA could be extracted and inserted into the bill saying, "the university concurs and they get 90% of the revenue". Administrative costs would be handled with the other 10%. Co-chair Halford asked if the university would grant the concurrences routinely? Ms. Redman stated that the university's interest is in getting land into development as quickly as possible, so the interests are concurrent. The university is looking to get interest from the land that is not closed, then there is not a problem. Co-chair Halford asked if there was any objection to Co- chair Frank's amendment? With no objection, the draft amendment was ADOPTED and will be made into a CS and brought before the committee at the next meeting. He stated that the assumption is to use the ANILA language. Mr. Swanson stated that it was in section 906K just for the record. Senator Sharp asked if the present CS contained the ability of local municipalities to tax improvements on university land that is not being used for educational purposes. He stated the property should not be tax exempt property if it producing income. Ms. Redman stated that it was so stated in the bill. Co-chair Halford MOVED to delete 1,000,000 and insert 250,000 on page 4 line 13. Co-chair called for a show of hands and the motion FAILED. SB 16 will be recognized at the next meeting. ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at approximately 11:00 a.m.