Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/04/1996 09:25 AM Senate FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                          April 4, 1996                                        
                            9:25 a.m.                                          
  SFC-96, #68, Side 1 (000-575)                                                
  SFC-96, #68, Side 2 (575-046)                                                
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
  Senator Rick Halford,  Co-chairman, convened the  meeting at                 
  approximately 9:25 a.m.                                                      
  In  addition  to  Co-chairmen  Halford  and  Frank, Senators                 
  Donley, Phillips, Rieger, and Zharoff were present.  Senator                 
  Sharp did not attend.                                                        
  ALSO  ATTENDING:    Senator  Torgerson;  Jeff  Bush,  Deputy                 
  Commissioner, Dept.  of Commerce  and Economic  Development;                 
  Jay Livey, Deputy  Commissioner, Dept. of Health  and Social                 
  Services; Tom Boutin, State Forester, Division of  Forestry,                 
  Dept. of Natural Resources; Jim Nordlund, Director, Division                 
  of Public Assistance,  Dept. of Health and  Social Services;                 
  Glenda   Straube,   Director,   Child  Support   Enforcement                 
  Division, Dept.  of Revenue;  Robert V. Berryhill,  American                 
  Association  of  Retired  Persons;  Kip  Knudson,   aide  to                 
  Representative   Hanley;   Mark    Mickelson,   Coordinator,                 
  JPTA/Service Delivery  Area Program, Division  of Rural  and                 
  Community  Development,  Dept.  of  Community  and  Regional                 
  Affairs;  Barbara  Cotting,  aide  to Representative  James;                 
  Daniella Loper, aide to Representative  Porter; and aides to                 
  committee members and other members of the legislature.                      
  ALSO PARTICIPATING VIA TELECONFERENCE:  Lamar Cotten, Deputy                 
  Commissioner,  Dept.  of  Community  and  Regional  Affairs,                 
  Anchorage; Dan Bockhorst,  Local Boundary Commission,  Dept.                 
  of  Community and  Regional Affairs, Anchorage;  Pat Poland,                 
  Director,  Division of  Municipal  and Regional  Assistance,                 
  Dept.  of  Community  and Regional  Affairs,  Anchorage; Jay                 
  Dulany,  Director,  Division  of  Motor  Vehicles, Dept.  of                 
  Public  Safety,  Anchorage;   John  Suddock,  Trial  Lawyer,                 
  Anchorage; Angela Salerno, Hosanna Lee, Debbi Brown  (Beyond                 
  Shelter)  and  Tim  Rogers   (MOA),  Anchorage;  Paul  Weir,                 
  Glennallen;  Louise Charles  and Luic Beach,  Fairbanks; and                 
  Jennie Johnston, MatSu.                                                      
  SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                          
  SB  98 -  PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT                                        
            Co-chairman Halford announced  that discussion  of                 
            SB 98 would be rescheduled to next week.                           
            Continued   discussion   was   had  with   Senator                 
            Torgerson,  and  via  teleconference   with  Lamar                 
            Cotten, Dan  Bockhorst, Pat Poland, and Paul Weir.                 
            Amendment No. 2, by Senator Rieger,  was withdrawn                 
            and  Revised  Amendment  No.  2  was  offered  and                 
            adopted.  CSSB 280 (Fin)  was then REPORTED OUT of                 
            committee with accompanying fiscal notes 1 through                 
  HB 158 -  CIVIL LIABILITY                                                    
            Teleconference testimony was given by John Suddock                 
            from Anchorage.  Discussion was had with Jeff Bush                 
            and Daniella Loper.  Amendments 1,  3, 4, 5, and 6                 
            were adopted.   Amendment No. 7 was  discussed but                 
            not offered.  The bill  was held in committee  for                 
            further  review  and  consideration  of  remaining                 
            Testimony  was  presented  by Barbara  Cotting  on                 
            behalf  of  Representative James.    SCS  CSHB 212                 
            (Res) was then  REPORTED OUT  of committee with  a                 
            ($3.0)  fiscal  note  from  the  Dept. of  Natural                 
            Resources, $19.6 note  from the Dept. of  Fish and                 
            Game,   and   zero   note   from   the   Dept.  of                 
            Environmental Conservation.                                        
  HB 468 -  APPROP: SUPPLEMENTAL & OTHERS                                      
            Co-chairman Frank announced that  the supplemental                 
            would be rescheduled for hearing next week.                        
  CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 212(FIN)                                               
       An  Act  relating to  the  management and  sale of                      
       state timber and relating to the administration of                      
       forest land and classification of state land.                           
  Co-chairman Halford directed that CSHB  212 (Fin) be brought                 
  on  for  discussion  and  referenced  SCS  CSHB  212  (Res).                 
  BARBARA COTTING, aide to  Representative James, came  before                 
  committee.  She  directed attention  to a sponsor  statement                 
  and bill analysis  (copies on  file in  the original  Senate                 
  Finance Committee file for HB 212).   She explained that the                 
  bill  was introduced at  the request of  constituents in the                 
  timber industry in Fairbanks.   It has subsequently received                 
  wide  state support.   Interested constituents are operators                 
  of small timber businesses in local communities.  Operations                 
  have  been impacted  by  overly complicated  procedures that                 
  must be endured  to secure timber from the state.  It is not                 
  a  lack  of timber  but inability  of  the Dept.  of Natural                 
  Resources to allow harvesting that has caused the problem.                   
  Current Title 38 statutes, requiring five-year  planning and                 
  three-year updates, make continuation of an ongoing industry                 
  very  difficult.   Well-managed  timber harvesting  not only                 
  creates and supports jobs and a healthy  economy, it creates                 
  and  supports healthy  forests.  Communities  are prohibited                 
  from  developing  basic  timber  industries  necessary   for                 
  maintaining  strong  forest  ecology and  a  strong economic                 
  HB 212 provides  flexibility to the division of  forestry to                 
  meet the needs of small timber operators in a timely manner.                 
  It also makes small adjustments to  Title 28 and 41 intended                 
  to secure a sustainable forest  products industry.  A  truly                 
  cooperative effect  stemming from introduction last year and                 
  work during the interim resulted in  the bill in its current                 
  In  response  to  a  question  from Senator  Randy  Phillips                 
  regarding the  planning process,  Ms.  Cotting advised  that                 
  sales  of  ten  acres  or  less  would be  exempt  from  all                 
  requirements of the forest land use plan.  An additional key                 
  provision is that  small sales are  defined as 160 acres  or                 
  less.  The division of forestry will closely monitor  sales.                 
  TOM BOUTIN, State  Forester, Division of Forestry,  Dept. of                 
  Natural Resources, came before committee.  In response to an                 
  inquiry from Senator Zharoff regarding operation of the ten-                 
  acre exemption, Mr. Boutin explained that sales now "have to                 
  go through two,  separate, unrelated processes."   They have                 
  to be in  the five-year schedule for at least  the two prior                 
  years.  Each sale also  has to have a forest land-use  plan.                 
  The latter is used to substantiate the best-interest finding                 
  needed for disposal of any state land-use resource.  Section                 
  1 of the  bill remove the requirement for sales of ten acres                 
  or less.   It would also mean that the  department would not                 
  have  to  prepare a  plan when  it sells  timber and  is not                 
  involved in the harvest.  He cited, as an example, a raft of                 
  timber  stolen  from state  land  which was  ultimately made                 
  available for fire wood because sale by the state would have                 
  required the expensive public process involved in developing                 
  a  land  use plan.   Section  1  would have  alleviated that                 
  situation.  Mr. Boutin  cited the situation at the  Ft. Knox                 
  project as a further example.                                                
  Co-chairman  Halford asked  if the  department supports  the                 
  bill.  Mr. Boutin replied that  all concerns raised when the                 
  bill was introduced have now been answered.  He acknowledged                 
  concern by  the environmental community  regarding exemption                 
  of  sales  of  160 acres  or  less.    Aside from  emergency                 
  situations, the division is committed  to "having every sale                 
  in the five-year  schedule."   The division will  work on  a                 
  department order that  will define  that.  Information  from                 
  operators  indicates  that the  market  window can  open and                 
  close in a two-year period.                                                  
  Co-chairman Frank  MOVED for passage  of SCS CSHB  212 (Res)                 
  with  individual  recommendations  and  accompanying  fiscal                 
  notes.  No objection having been  raised, SCS CSHB 212 (Res)                 
  was REPORTED OUT of committee with a ($3.0) fiscal note from                 
  the Dept. of Natural Resources, $19.6 note from the Dept. of                 
  Fish  and  Game,  and   a  zero  note  from  the   Dept.  of                 
  Environmental Conservation.   Co-chairmen Halford  and Frank                 
  and  Senator Rieger signed  the committee report  with a "do                 
  pass"  recommendation.    Senators   Donley,  Phillips,  and                 
  Zharoff signed "no recommendation."                                          
  SENATE BILL NO. 280                                                          
       An Act relating to  the mandatory incorporation of                      
       certain boroughs in the unorganized borough.                            
  Senator Torgerson, sponsor of  the legislation, came  before                 
  committee.    He  noted  that  at  a previous  hearing,  the                 
  committee held Amendment No. 2 for discussion at this  time.                 
  Senator  Rieger,  sponsor  of  the  amendment,  voiced   his                 
  understanding that the Local Boundary Commission is strongly                 
  opposed to the amendment.  He said he did not wish to impede                 
  progress of the bill because of that objection.                              
  Senator Rieger said that, in  researching the issue further,                 
  he came across  statutes that appear  to be contrary to  the                 
  intent of  self-determination and  which do  not remove  the                 
  power of the Local Boundary Commission to review changes  in                 
  municipal governments.   He said that text from the statutes                 
  was attached to an  amendment he wished to offer  as Revised                 
  Amendment No. 2.   Senator Rieger next read wording  from AS                 
  29.05.011(a)(5)  and 29.05.021.   He suggested that petition                 
  to the Local Boundary Commission reflects desire for a local                 
  government.    The  proposed   amendment  repeals  statutory                 
  provisions cited above.                                                      
  Senator Torgerson concurred  in withdrawal of Amendment  No.                 
  2.    He acknowledged  that while  he  agreed with  what the                 
  amendment   attempts  to  do,   it  raises  many  questions,                 
  constitutional issues,  and problems for the  Local Boundary                 
  Speaking  to Revised  Amendment  No.  2,  Senator  Torgerson                 
  expressed agreement, saying that he was not previously aware                 
  that language within AS 29.05.011 and 29.05.021 existed.                     
  Co-chairman  Halford  raised  questions  regarding  footnote                 
  information attached  to the  above-cited  statutes.   LAMAR                 
  COTTON, Deputy Commissioner, Dept. of Community and Regional                 
  Affairs,  spoke   via  teleconference  from   Anchorage  and                 
  introduced DAN  BOCKHORST, Local Boundary  Commission staff.                 
  Mr.  Bockhorst  spoke  to  case  law relating  to  municipal                 
  extension and the issue of cohesiveness.                                     
  Senator Rieger MOVED  for adoption of Revised  Amendment No.                 
  2.  Senator  Zharoff OBJECTED  and  inquired  concerning the                 
  number  of   unincorporated  communities.     Mr.  Bockhorst                 
  attested  to  68  or 70  in  the  unorganized  borough.   He                 
  explained that language to be removed by the second citation                 
  in Revised Amendment  No. 2  applies to any  class of  city.                 
  Language in the  first citation applies only  to first-class                 
  and home-rule cities.                                                        
  In  response  to  a further  question  from  Senator Zharoff                 
  regarding removal  of  language relating  to a  demonstrated                 
  need for city government, Mr. Bockhorst explained that it is                 
  currently one of  the standards used  by the Local  Boundary                 
  Commission  in  evaluating  applications.   It  reflects  an                 
  attempt by the  legislature to ensure that  city governments                 
  are formed only where  there is a need for  local government                 
  services.    Removal  would  make it  easier  to  form  city                 
  Senator   Randy   Phillips   asked   if   removal   poses  a                 
  constitutional problem.  Mr. Bockhorst said he saw none.  He                 
  cited Article X,  Sec. 1, of  the Alaska Constitution  which                 
  calls for a  minimum of local  government units.  The  state                 
  supreme court has interpreted that to mean "a minimum number                 
  of local government  units."  The commission is sensitive to                 
  that  issue.    The  proposed  amendment  does  not  pose  a                 
  substantial problem for either the Local Boundary Commission                 
  or the Dept. of Community and Regional Affairs.                              
  In response to  an additional question regarding  removal of                 
  AS 29.05.021,  Senator Rieger  explained that it  eliminates                 
  some of  the prohibitions and  gives greater variety  to the                 
  form of local government the  local population might prefer.                 
  The existing statute  is poor public  policy in that it,  in                 
  effect, says that a  community cannot do what it  might wish                 
  to do.  It would have to annex to another community or allow                 
  some other  form of  government to  provide local  services.                 
  Co-chairman Halford concurred in need for removal.  However,                 
  he expressed concern over removal of  29.05.011(5), relating                 
  to demonstrated need.   He suggested it might send  a signal                 
  the legislature  does not intend  to send.   Senator  Rieger                 
  voiced his belief  that the Local Boundary  Commission would                 
  defer   to  the  desires  of   the  local  population.    AS                 
  29.05.011(5)  is extremely vague  and injects uncertainty as                 
  to how it  will be  used by the  Local Boundary  Commission.                 
  The  paramount  concern  should  be   the  desire  of  local                 
  citizens.    Senator  Torgerson  noted  that  following  the                 
  petition and other activities necessary to establish a city,                 
  there has to  be a vote of  those in the impacted  area.  If                 
  there is no demonstrated need for establishment of the city,                 
  it will be voted down.                                                       
  Co-chairman Halford called  for a show of  hands on adoption                 
  of  Revised  Amendment No.  2.   Co-chairman  Frank inquired                 
  concerning  the  department  and  Local Boundary  Commission                 
  position on the  amendment.  PAT POLAND,  Director, Division                 
  of Municipal and Regional Assistance, Dept. of Community and                 
  Regional Affairs, advised via  teleconference from Anchorage                 
  that the department was comfortable with the amendment.   It                 
  does  not  effect  a  substantial  change,  and  it  removes                 
  confusion surrounding formation of cities and service areas.                 
  PAUL WEIR next testified via teleconference from Glennallen.                 
  He  voiced opposition to  forcing communities  into boroughs                 
  and asked how residents of  Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau                 
  would gain by that action.  Senator Torgerson explained that                 
  the  proposed  legislation  represents a  move  to  equalize                 
  taxation and education.   Mr.  Weir again protested  against                 
  need to undergo  the rigors of  planning, zoning, and  other                 
  necessities of  incorporation.  Senator  Torgerson explained                 
  that an amendment made at the  previous hearing took care of                 
  that  problem.  If the bill is adopted as now written, there                 
  will be a  vote in  each unorganized area.   Residents  will                 
  have a choice  of either forming  or not forming a  borough.                 
  If residents choose  not to  form, the  state assessor  will                 
  construct a mill rate or mill rate equivalency for the local                 
  contribution to education, per the other fifteen boroughs in                 
  Alaska.   The word  "mandatory" was  removed from the  bill.                 
  The compromise  recognizes that in  some areas of  Alaska it                 
  may not make sense to form a borough government.                             
  Co-chairman Halford again  called for objections  to Revised                 
  Amendment No. 2.  Senator  Zharoff maintained his OBJECTION.                 
  The Co-chairman again called  for a show of hands.   Revised                 
  Amendment No. 2 was ADOPTED on a vote of 4 to 2 (Co-chairman                 
  Frank and Senator  Zharoff were  opposed, and Senator  Sharp                 
  was absent from the meeting.)                                                
  Senator Zharoff advised  members that he  might subsequently                 
  offer an amendment to  impose a six percent state  sales tax                 
  on communities that do not currently  have one.  In response                 
  to  suggestions  that  the  amendment  would  be  unpopular,                 
  Senator  Zharoff  stressed that  it  would create  equity to                 
  offset   educational   assessments   against  unincorporated                 
  END:      SFC-96, #68, Side 1                                                
  BEGIN:    SFC-96, #68, Side 2                                                
  Discussion  of sales  versus property  tax options  followed                 
  among committee members.                                                     
  Senator  Rieger MOVED  for  passage of  CSSB 280  (Fin) with                 
  individual  recommendations  and accompanying  fiscal notes.                 
  Senator Zharoff OBJECTED.  Co-chairman  Halford called for a                 
  show of hands.  CSSB 280 (Fin) was REPORTED OUT of committee                 
  on a vote of 5 to 1.  The following fiscal notes accompanied                 
  the bill:                                                                    
       Dept. of Administration                           0                     
       Dept. of Commerce and Economic Development        0                     
       Dept. of Community and Regional Affairs                                 
            (State Assessor)                            63.5                   
            (Local Boundary Commission)                 15.6                   
       Dept. of Education                                0                     
       Dept. of Law                                      0                     
       Dept. of Natural Resources                        0                     
       Dept. of Public Safety                            0                     
       Dept. of Transportation and Public Facilities     0                     
       Office of the Governor/Elections                 25.4                   
  Co-chairmen Frank and Halford and Senators Donley, Phillips,                 
  and  Rieger signed  the committee  report with  a  "do pass"                 
  recommendation.  Senator Zharoff signed "do not pass."                       
  CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 158(FIN) am(ct rls pfld)(efd fld)                      
       An Act relating to civil  actions; amending Alaska                      
       Rule of Civil Procedure 95.                                             
  Co-chairman Halford directed  that CSHB 158 (Fin)am  (ct rls                 
  pfld)(efd fld) be  brought on for discussion  and referenced                 
  SCS  CSHB  158   (Jud).     JOHN  SUDDOCK,  Trial   Lawyers'                 
  Association,  testified  via teleconference  from Anchorage.                 
  He suggested that the "overall  drift" of the legislation is                 
  to   benefit  people   charged  with   wrongdoings   and  to                 
  disadvantage victims of crime.   In that sense, the  bill is                 
  at   odds  with   the  current   philosophy  of   individual                 
  responsibility.    Legislative  tightening  of criminal  and                 
  welfare  provisions  are  intended to  make  wrongdoers  and                 
  welfare  recipients  more responsible.    The proposed  bill                 
  appears  to  swim  against  that  stream  in  that  it makes                 
  corporate and insurance interests less responsible.                          
  Mr. Suddock voiced his understanding that  there would be an                 
  attempt to "try to amend out one of the few saving graces of                 
  the bill"--the insurance  rate rollback.  The  proposed bill                 
  represents poor  legislation against  the broad interest  of                 
  public policy.   Inclusion of the rollback  at least ensures                 
  that the public gets  something in return for giving  up its                 
  Mr. Suddock next addressed a technical provision relating to                 
  an offer of judgment which he termed "widely misunderstood."                 
  Provisions  currently penalize  a  person  who  receives  an                 
  offer, does not take  the offer, and then does  less well at                 
  trial.  As a  penalty, the party pays partial  attorney fees                 
  to the other  side and receives  a severely reduced rate  of                 
  interest  on  the  judgment.    That  causes  attorneys  for                 
  plaintiffs considerable fear.  The  proposed bill contains a                 
  "far more Draconian, severe  form of offer of judgment  that                 
  in  many cases  will make  the court  system unavailable  to                 
  injured people  . . . ."  It raises  the ante for failure of                 
  prediction.  Unless  the plaintiff guesses "what's  going to                 
  happen with 95 percent accuracy," the plaintiff will have to                 
  pay the  actual attorney fees of the  other side even if the                 
  plaintiff wins  the case.   The  other side  is often  large                 
  institutions.   These  are  well-funded corporate  interests                 
  (insurance companies etc.) that can afford to sit down  with                 
  those stakes on the table and  afford to win and lose.   The                 
  average  individual will  be disadvantaged  by inability  to                 
  predict what the  award might be.   Entry into the  criminal                 
  justice system will place one's home and retirement at peril                 
  (even  if  the individual  is  injured,  is  right, and  his                 
  attorney is a 93 percent "good guesser").                                    
  Mr. Suddock noted the Senate  Judiciary Committee attempt to                 
  ameliorate the foregoing  provision by requiring  evaluation                 
  of only one joint-offer in cases of multiple defendants.  He                 
  encouraged retention of  that provision if the  current plea                 
  to eliminate offer of judgment provisions is not heeded.                     
  Speaking to punitive damages, Mr. Suddock said that the bill                 
  places an arbitrary limit on ability of juries to punish the                 
  type of  corporate interest  that makes  money by  "stealing                 
  small amounts from  lots of people."   It also allocates  50                 
  percent of the punitive damage  recovery to the state.    He                 
  referenced an amendment  by Senator  Rieger to increase  the                 
  amount  of  punitive damages  flowing  to  the state  to  90                 
  percent.  If that increase is adopted, the legislature might                 
  as well  eliminate  punitive damages  since  the  additional                 
  expense and risk of pursuing them would not be justified.                    
  Following  Mr.  Suddock's  testimony,   Co-chairman  Halford                 
  directed  that  the  meeting  be  briefly  recessed  pending                 
  arrival of the sponsor of the legislation.                                   
                       RECESS - 10:10 A.M.                                     
                     RECONVENE - 10:30 A.M.                                    
  Senator Rieger directed  attention to Amendment No.  1 which                 
  he explained was  prepared by Mike Ford, a Legislative Legal                 
  Services Attorney, to  correct a  drafting error within  SCS                 
  CSHB 158 (Jud).  The error would have inadvertently repealed                 
  the collateral  benefit section  under medical  malpractice.                 
  He  then  MOVED  for adoption.    No  objection  having been                 
  raised, Amendment No. 1 was ADOPTED.                                         
  Senator Rieger advised that he would not offer Amendment No.                 
  2 since it  would effect the  same change made by  Amendment                 
  No. 1.                                                                       
  Senator  Rieger  advised  that Amendment  No.  3  relates to                 
  punitive  damages.   He voiced concern  over ability  of the                 
  civil liability system (intended to  make whole, individuals                 
  who have  been damaged  by the  action of  others) to  apply                 
  punitive  damages  which are  "almost  the same  as criminal                 
  fines."  The proposed bill would  thus deposit 90 percent of                 
  punitive damages to  the general fund.  Senator  Rieger then                 
  MOVED  for  adoption.    No  objection having  been  raised,                 
  Amendment No. 3 was ADOPTED.                                                 
  Senator Rieger directed  attention to Page  2, line 29,  and                 
  noted references  to construction,  design plans,  etc.   It                 
  appears that the body of statutes relates to construction of                 
  a facility.   The statute  of limitations at  the bottom  of                 
  Page  2 appears  to apply more  broadly than that.   It says                 
  that  one  cannot bring  any  action based  on construction-                 
  related activity.   Amendment No. 4 attempts to clarify that                 
  the   statute  of   repose  refers   to   design,  planning,                 
  construction--improvements to real property.  That parallels                 
  language used elsewhere.                                                     
  DANIELLA LOPER,  aide to Representative Porter,  came before                 
  committee.    She  raised  concern  regarding  placement  of                 
  wording within the  amendment, suggesting that there  may be                 
  other kinds  of property  damage unrelated to  construction.                 
  Senator Rieger  explained  that his  amendment  attempts  to                 
  clarify that the actions being  brought via the introductory                 
  clause are the same as the causes and circumstances referred                 
  to in  the remainder of Sec.  2.  Ms. Loper said  she had no                 
  problem with Amendment No. 4.                                                
  Senator  Rieger  MOVED  for  adoption  of Amendment  No.  4.                 
  Senator Donley OBJECTED.   Co-chairman Halford called  for a                 
  show of hands.   Amendment No. 4 was ADOPTED on a  vote of 4                 
  to 2.                                                                        
  Senator Rieger noted that  Sec. 7 of the bill  would reverse                 
  existing  law  which says  that  the court  may  not require                 
  security  to  be  posted  and  would  instead  require  that                 
  security  be posted.   He said that while  he had no problem                 
  with the general  policy, the provision as  presently worded                 
  leaves  no ability for all parties,  including the court, to                 
  agree that posting  of security is not advisable  because of                 
  associated  expenses or for other  reasons.  Amendment No. 5                 
  provides some  flexibility for this  new policy.   Mr. Loper                 
  advised of no objection to the change.   Co-chairman Halford                 
  called for a show of hands on  adoption.  Amendment No 5 was                 
  ADOPTED on a vote of 4 to 2.                                                 
  Senator Rieger  directed attention  to Amendment  No. 6  and                 
  explained that  it clarifies language  at Page  5, line  16,                 
  referring  to specification of  increases in future payments                 
  for anticipated inflation.   A reading of  existing language                 
  raises questions concerning whether "someone might be put in                 
  a  position of having  to estimate what  future inflation is                 
  and then actually specify the dollar amount of the payment."                 
  The amendment  clarifies that an order could specify the way                 
  that inflation is  calculated rather than the  actual result                 
  of  that  calculation.   The  amendment  also  provides more                 
  latitude in choosing the index.                                              
  Brief  discussion followed  between Senator  Donley and  Ms.                 
  Loper regarding the source of the original language.                         
  In response to  a question  from Co-chairman Frank,  Senator                 
  Rieger advised that the court could decide on the index on a                 
  case-by-case basis or adopt a  court rule most practical for                 
  Discussion   followed   among  members   concerning  whether                 
  adoption  of  Amendment No.  6  should be  divided  into two                 
  questions.  Additional discussion ensued regarding selection                 
  of  a  particular formula  versus  the formula  specified in                 
  language to be deleted  by the amendment.  Ms.  Loper voiced                 
  support for the amendment.  Co-chairman Halford called for a                 
  show of hands.   Amendment No. 6 was ADOPTED on  a vote of 4                 
  to 2.                                                                        
  Senator Rieger  directed attention  to Amendment  No. 7  and                 
  explained that  it addresses  the question  of what  happens                 
  when a party  is partially  at fault for  damages, but  suit                 
  cannot be brought against that person.  Can a jury or judge,                 
  in allocating  fault, determine  how much  fault applies  to                 
  that person (even though  they cannot be sued) and  allocate                 
  the remainder of the fault to defendants?  Or, do defendants                 
  have their share of fault  proportionately increased to bear                 
  100 percent of  the fault?   As presently written, the  bill                 
  incorporates the  latter approach.   The  proposed amendment                 
  applies  the  former  approach  and  deletes Sec.  9,  which                 
  allocates 100 percent fault to remaining defendants.                         
  Co-chairman Halford cited an example of a 20-year old hanger                 
  roof which  fails and  damages a  helicopter  and asked  how                 
  fault would  be  apportioned between  those responsible  for                 
  design,  construction,  ownership,  and  maintenance  should                 
  those responsible for  design be  liable but protected  from                 
  suit by  the  statute of  limitations.   JEFF  BUSH,  Deputy                 
  Commissioner, Dept.  of Commerce  and Economic  Development,                 
  came  before  committee.   He  explained  that the  bill  as                 
  presently written would  assign 100 percent of  liability to                 
  "whatever  defendants  are  in  the   court."    That  would                 
  presumably be the owner who provided maintenance.                            
  Mr. Bush said that if the foregoing provision is removed and                 
  allocation against the designer is  allowed but no liability                 
  is  attached, an "empty  chair" situation is  created.  That                 
  guarantees that defendants  will point  to that empty  chair                 
  and claim  that the  design defect  was responsible  for the                 
  injury.  If the designer was  60 percent responsible and the                 
  owner 40  percent responsible,  the likelihood  is that  the                 
  jury  will  eventually find  it  was  80 or  90  percent the                 
  responsibility of the  designer because no one  was there to                 
  say that it was not.  Co-chairman Halford suggested that the                 
  same  thing happens  under  current law  in cases  where the                 
  designer  is judgment  proof  because of  death, bankruptcy,                 
  Senator Rieger acknowledged that the alternative proposed by                 
  Amendment No.  7 might not be better  than existing language                 
  within the bill.  Both have flaws.  He advised that he would                 
  not offer the amendment,  but he reiterated that there  is a                 
  problem in the bill as presently drafted.                                    
  Senator  Donley  noted  need  to  attend  the  Senate  Floor                 
  Session.    SCS CSHB  159 (Jud)  was  HELD in  committee for                 
  further review.                                                              
  SENATE BILL NO. 98                                                           
       An Act  making changes related  to the aid  to families                 
       with dependent children  program, the Medicaid program,                 
       the  general relief assistance  program, and  the adult                 
       public assistance program; directing the Department  of                 
       Health  and  Social Services  to  apply to  the federal                 
       government for  waivers to implement the  changes where                 
       necessary; relating  to eligibility for  permanent fund                 
       dividends  of  certain  individuals who  receive  state                 
       assistance, to  notice requirements  applicable to  the                 
       dividend program; and providing for an effective date.                  
  Co-chairman   Halford  announced   that   SB  98   would  be                 
  rescheduled for hearing during the coming week.                              
  The meeting was adjourned at approximately 11:00 a.m.                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects