Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/14/1996 09:10 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
MINUTES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE February 14, 1996 9:10 A.M. TAPES SFC-96, #24, Sides 1 & 2 SFC-96, #25, Side 1 CALL TO ORDER Senator Rick Halford, Co-chair, convened the meeting at approximately 9:10 A.M. PRESENT In addition to Co-chairman Halford, Co-chairman Frank, Senators Phillips, Sharp, Donley, Rieger and Zharoff were present when the meeting was convened Also Attending: Representative Con Bunde; Patty Swenson, Administrative Assistant to Rep. Bunde; Anne Carpeneti, Criminal Division, Department of Law; Tom Wright, Administrative Assistant to Rep. Ivan; Bob Jenkins, Executive Director, Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission; Bob Bartholomew, Deputy Director, Income & Excise Audit Division, Department of Revenue; Dave Tonkovich, Fiscal Analyst, Legislative Finance Division; and aides to committee members. SUMMARY INFORMATION CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 38(JUD) am "An Act relating to criminal sentencing; relating to good time credit; relating to the availability for good time credit for offenders convicted of certain first degree murders; relating to definite sentences, parole, good time credit, pardon, commutation of sentence, modification or reduction of sentence, reprieve, furlough, and service of sentence at a correctional restitution center for offenders with at least three serious felony convictions; and amending Alaska Rule of C r i m i n a l Procedure 35." Testimony was given by the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Con Bunde. Amendment #4, submitted by Senator Donley was moved and adopted. Amendment #2 was withdrawn and Amendment #3 failed adoption. SCSCSHB 38 (FIN) was reported out with fiscal notes from the Alaska Court System, $167.9; Department of Public Safety, zero; Department of Corrections, zero; Department of Law, $213.3; Senate Finance Committee/Department of Administration (Public Defender Agency), $106.6 and Senate Finance Committee/Department of Administration (Office of Public Advocacy), $106.6. HOUSE BILL NO. 269 "An Act relating to credits against certain taxes for contributions to certain public educational radio and television networks and stations and to endowments for public educational radio and television networks; and providing for an effective date." Testimony was given in support of HB 269 by Tom Wright, Administrative Assistant to Representative Ivan. Testimony was also given by Bob Bartholomew. HB 269 was held for further discussion. HOUSE BILL NO. 38 "An Act relating to criminal sentencing; relating to the availability for good time credit for offenders convicted of certain first degree murders; relating to mandatory life imprisonment, parole, good time credit, pardon, commutation of sentence, modification or reduction of sentence, reprieve, furlough, and service of sentence at a correctional restitution center for offenders with at least three s e r i o u s f e l o n y convictions; and amending Alaska Rule of CriminalProcedure 35." Representative Con Bunde was invited to join the committee. Co-chairman Halford advised that amendment #1 was previously adopted and that amendments #2, 3 and 4 would be reviewed. Senator Zharoff called attention to a letter from the Department of Law correcting their position on the bill that they neither support nor oppose HB 38. Senator Phillips appreciated letter from Anne Carpeneti. Senator Donley referred to amendment #4 and the existing law requiring mandatory ninety-nine year sentences for very serious classes of homicide. This amendment would extend the prohibition on good time to those crimes currently subject to the mandatory ninety-nine year term of imprisonment. An ascending level of punishment must be kept for more serious crimes and homicide ought to have the most serious level of punishment in the statutes. Senator Rieger commented on release under furlough and what types exist. Senator Donley stated there is furlough for personal family matters, the early furlough program, death in the family; furlough also refers to when the prisons are overcrowded and they decide to let someone loose early. This is a special classification not relevant to parole, probation, mandatory or discretionary parole. This is a creative way to free up room in the prisons. Representative Bunde advised furlough only applies to medical, family visitation or funeral and furloughed person would be accompanied by a corrections officer. In cases of murder there is no furlough. Discussed "good time". Senator Rieger referenced the medical furlough and when the measure was pushed through so federal funds could be picked up for medical care and doesn't want to catch something here that will cost the State a lot of money. Senator Donley stated that his amendment #4 just conforms this to the prohibition on any type of furlough for the third strike bill. Someone who falls in this category is banned from any type of furlough. Representative Bunde commented that there is furlough allowed but they must be accompanied by a corrections office. Senator Frank asked for further clarification on this amendment. Senator Donley stated that any third time offender who falls under this bill would not be eligible for furloughs or good time. This would include anyone under the ninety-nine year mandatory homicide statute also. Senator Sharp also commented on the amendment regarding good time. Co-chairman Halford concurred and stated there would be no fiscal impact on this amendment. He also voiced his concern that no administration would try to furlough people convicted of the worst aggravated murder. Representative Bunde also concurred and felt amendment #4 did not fall out of the scope of the bill. Co-chairman and Senator Phillips discussed Senator Rieger's comments on medical furlough and the costs. Co-chairman Frank also voiced concern over release of a long term prisoner with terminal illness and then they could pay for their own medical. Co-chairman Halford advised that WITHOUT OBJECTION amendment CS. Senator Donley introduced amendment #3 and his concern over "good time" for multiple offenders. A reoffender can be put back in for the term of their probation or any discretionary parole period but they don't lose their good time. This bill will take away good time between the second and third offense. Representative Bunde commented that "good time" only applies after you are the third time loser. A second time felony offender could still get out on good time. Senator Donley advised that the amendment #3 provided that a second time felony offender would lose good time earned for first offense. Senator Phillips agreed. Senator Frank asked if second offense would generally be a presumptive sentence and Senator Donley advised that a second felony offense would be. The judge would have no discretion in the sentence other than with aggravators. He would have flexibility in dealing with how much of the former mandatory and discretionary parole that could be reinstated. An offender under this amendment would have to go back and serve any good time earned in addition to the sentence. Senators Donley and Phillips discussed a hypothetical armed robbery and how under this amendment the "good time" earned for the second stretch would be lost and the offender would have to go back and serve any good time earned on the first offense. A judge would be prevented from running this concurrent with the sentence imposed. Representative Bunde voiced concern in protection of the public and what can be afforded. This amendment would have significant fiscal impact. The idea is laudable but would prefer that it be drawn as a separate bill. He agreed with Senator Phillips that the concept of his bill is to lock up the offender but doesn't feel that locking up a second time felony offender for an additional three years, earned "good time", would serve as a detriment. Would rather achieve a bill for the worst predators that is still affordable. Senator Donley called to the attention of his colleagues that we are faced with a federal mandate that states are complying with for truth in sentencing, which requires that an 85% standard be adopted. States not adopting this standard will lose federal funds. Our liberal "good time" provision would not comply with this standard. Representative Bunde agreed that this was a good amendment and would support a new bill. Senator Phillips commented on the fiscal impact and would this kill the bill. Representative Bunde advised that he made a number of compromises that he would not have made if not concerned about the fiscal impact. Co-chairman Halford will defer to the sponsor. Senator Zharoff voiced concern in keeping the criminals off the street and that by imposing service of "good time" on second felony offense this would keep the offender off the street long enough so they would not commit the same crime again. Representative Bunde concurs with the premise. Department of Corrections is constitutionally required to rehabilitate people and "good time" is used as a reward for rehabilitation. "Good time" keeps convicts reasonably happy and something to work towards. The fiscal drag of including this amendment will keep the three strikes bill from passing. However, Senator Zharoff felt that keeping an offender in for a longer period of time would mean that upon release they would be in an older age group and therefore a lessor potential of committing a third offense. Representative Bunde agreed but would rather see the good pass now than wait for the perfect which may not be possible. Upon a vote taken amendment #3 FAILED ADOPTION. Senator Donley introduced amendment #2. The maximum monetary penalty for murder is $500,000. Under Alaska State law the maximum is only $75,000. Under the amendment class A felony should be $250,000 and $500,000 for homicide. We are severely under the Federal standards and courts should have the discretion to issue these kinds of fines if appropriate in these serious cases. Representative Bunde agreed with the goal but not the vehicle. It goes outside the scope of the basic three strikes bill. The gain is not worth the challenge to the bill. Would support a second bill on this matter. Senator Halford inquired as to if a fine proposal was ever received from the Court System. Senator Rieger stated he would be happy to work with Senator Donley on a day fines bill that he has in subcommittee to see if some penalties can be drafted that make some sense. Senator Donley WITHDRAWS amendment #2 pending consultation with the prosecutors. The bill is discretionary and only gives judges more options. Senator Sharp MOVES SCSCSHB 38 (FIN) as amended with accompanying fiscal notes with individual recommendations. Senator Donley commented on discrepancy between public defender and prosecutor fiscal notes. He had no objection to moving the bill and Co-chairman Halford agreed. Senator Donley felt it would be important to talk to the criminal justice folks; specifically in Bethel there is a full time public defender but the prosecutor just flies in occasionally. A serious need for additional prosecutors was indicated. This also included Kotzebue. Appropriate fiscal notes would help deal with this imbalance between the prosecutors and the defense. Co-chairman Halford stated he was willing to changing the recommendation on the fiscal notes. Senator Frank commented on how this money could be allocated between OPA and the Public Defender. Some discussion was held regarding possible allocations. Senator Rieger inquired would there be a slow down on the calendaring of trials because of the budget. Senator Donley again referred to the collateral attacks as discussed at the last hearing. Senator Frank commented on the possibility of limiting the use of funds to look at prior convictions. Senator Donley said that he was still looking into this matter. Co-chairman Halford stated that there was a proposal to amend the fiscal notes splitting an equal amount between the public defenders and the public advocates. NO OBJECTION being heard SCSCSHB 38 (FIN) with individual recommendations and modifications to the fiscal notes was MOVED out of committee. HOUSE BILL NO. 269 "An Act relating to credits against certain taxes for contributions to certain public educational radio and television networks and stations and to endowments for public educational radio and television networks; and providing for an effective date." Tom Wright, staff to Representative Ivan was invited to join the committee and offered this testimony regarding HB 269. Referred to work draft numbered 9-LS0937\Z. Changes in CS title reflect the removal of those sections addressing the fisheries taxes from the CS. Sections 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 would reduce the amount of the tax credit for the next $300,000 in contributions from 100% to 90%. Also included is a change in the sunset date from December 31, 2000, to December 31, 2001. Sections 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 the changes in these sections reflect the amended portion of the sections where the contribution for the next $300,000 has been reduced from 100% to 90%. Credits may not exceed $320,000 through December 31, 2001. The amount in the version passed by the House totaled $350,000. In the CS previously before you sections 12 through 16 establishing credits for fisheries taxes were deleted. The section that allowed tax credits for shared revenues in the fish taxes by both the state and municipalities was also deleted. Final change was in the effective date in section 13 which was changed from January 1, 1966 to January 1, 1997. Advised co-chairman Halford that this would require a resolution on a title change and a new fiscal note. Co-chairman Halford noted that the fiscal notes are two- sided; one being a savings in the Department of Administration and the other is a revenue loss in the Department of Revenue. No conclusion has been reached at this time. Requested document showing existing University credit system, the proposed changes in the original bill and the proposed changes in the CS so questions on first $100,000, the next "X" amount, the percentage and the limitation on the overall percentage of business or corporations tax return can be focused on. Then the negative revenue fiscal note can be balanced with the beneficial fiscal note in the administration fiscal note. Tom Wright indicated that a fiscal note was received from the Department of Revenue based on the present CS. Co-chairman Frank voiced concern over institutional advertising on a public broadcasting station. Tom Wright said that Public Broadcasting Commission could better address the concerns. Senator Sharp also voiced same concerns. Would also like to see, whenever any publicity is given on a donation resulting from legislation, a disclaimer in the news article stating these funds are an actual reduction of this corporation's tax liability to the State of Alaska. Co-chairman Frank and Senator Sharp discussed the fact that the public is deceived on this matter. Senator Phillips deals with the subcommittee that handles public television and noted that if public television were eliminated then there would be a balance regarding the current State share general fund dollars. Co-chairman Halford advised that the latest fiscal note reads $2.6 million per year. Co-chairman Frank discussed question of distribution of our public treasury. Money for public broadcasting has been appropriated in a lump sum basis and it has been doled out in a fair fashion throughout the State. Concern for smaller stations in outlying areas and that this may be the only communication system in rural Alaska. Senator Phillips responded as to division of funds between public radio and public television. Senator Halford cautioned the effect of cuts on smaller area public broadcasting stations and possible options that could be explored. Tom Wright informed the committee there is a non-profit public broadcast endowment trust benefiting the small stations. It represents all public broadcast stations at this time and can be donated to by anyone in order to help the small stations out. Senator Zharoff voiced concern about advertising also. Bob Jenkins, Executive Director, Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission was invited to join the committee. He said the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission fully supports this bill and is consistent with long-term planning that is ongoing. Federal grant of $954,000 funded the satellite interconnection. Several regional radio networks have formed consortiums to share facilities. Advised co-chairman Frank that public broadcasting stations are restricted from accepting advertising. Explained function of endowment trust. Co-chairman Halford felt there would be less concern about the taxpayer choices if it were going through a more public system rather than a trust. Mr. Jenkins advised that the two are interrelated and interdependent. Pointed out the sunset provision and its primary benefit may be in the five-year period to fuel a trust that works off the endowment principal. Bob Bartholomew, Deputy Director, Income & Excise Tax Division was invited to join the committee and explained that no more than a $320,000 credit could be taken across all the taxes. There is a limit of $320,000 covering all the taxes. Explained attempt to estimate the increase that would happen both on education institution side of the credit or the public broadcasting and the current estimate of what the total potential loss in revenue is. The maximum contribution would be limited to $400,000 and $320,000 would be credited against state taxes. Tax liability cannot be reduced below fifty percent. Multiple corporations must file under parent corporation and the parent takes the credit. A quick overview was given. Voiced concern over the intent of credit and noted that the department is willing to discuss the problems. In answer to Senator Zharoff's question advised that the fiscal note is based on current legislation. It is not a high figure when the trend over the past few years is looked at. Tried to strike a balance between the old and new corporations and their contributions. (tape changed to SFC-96, #25, Side 1 Co-chairman Halford questioned regarding maximum exposure on large corporations and difficulties faced by the smaller corporations and the combination of credits. Bill held before the committee awaiting further information from the Department of Administration. ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:41 A.M.