Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/18/1997 09:13 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
MINUTES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE April 18, 1997 9:13 A.M. TAPES SFC-97, # 115, Sides 1 & 2 (000-590, 590-000) SFC-97, # 116, Side 1 (000-219) CALL TO ORDER Senator Bert Sharp, Cochair, Senate Finance Committee, convened the meeting at approximately 9:13 A.M. PRESENT In addition to COCHAIR SHARP, SENATORS PHILLIPS, TORGERSON and ADAMS were present when the meeting was convened. COCHAIR PEARCE, SENATORS DONLEY and PARNELL arrived as the meeting was in progress. Also Attending: SENATOR JERRY MACKIE, SENATOR LYDA GREEN, REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY, JAMES BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law; TUCKERMAN BABCOCK, Staff, Senator Green; DUANE BUELL, Owner, Sporting Goods Store, Juneau; DICK BISHOP, Executive Director, Alaska Outdoor Council; DEL SMITH, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Public Safety (DPS); LAUREE HUGONIN, Executive Director, Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, DPS; ART SNOWDEN, Administrative Director, Alaska Court System; ANN CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Law; and aides to committee members. Also Attending Via Teleconference: Fairbanks: DONNA GILBERT; ROYCE CHAPMAN; MIKE PRAX; Anchorage: KEN JACOBUS; RANDY SMITH; BRUCE OCKRASSA; MIKE CORKILL, Alaska Peace Officers Association; Kodiak: DIANA BUFFINGTON, District Chair, Republican Party; Kenai: PHIL NASH, Attorney; ROD CHRISTOPHER, Instructor, Peninsula Weapons Academy; BOB WISEMAN; RAYMOND CARR, Instructor, RNS Protection Services; Homer: PATRICK JOHNSON, Law Enforcement Alliance of America; Valdez: JOE MICHAUD, Police Chief, Valdez Police Department; Barrow: BILL JONES; GREGG OLSON, Training Officer, Gun Club; SCOTT CAMPBELL, Police Chief, North Slope Borough; and HARRIS STUERMER. SUMMARY INFORMATION SB 9 CAPITAL PROJECT MATCHING GRANT FOR INDIAN RESERVATION SENATOR MACKIE testified on behalf of the bill. SENATOR ADAMS MOVED SB 9 from committee with individual recommendations. Without objection, SB 9 was REPORTED OUT with previous zero fiscal notes from the Department of Administration and the Department of Community and Regional Affairs. HB 112 AMEND DEFINITION OF "POLITICAL PARTY" REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY testified on behalf of the bill. Testimony was heard via teleconference from DONNA GILBERT, ROYCE CHAPMAN, MIKE PRAX, KEN JACOBUS, DIANA BUFFINGTON and JAMES BALDWIN. SENATOR ADAMS MOVED Amendment #1. COCHAIR SHARP objected. Amendment #1 FAILED by a 1 to 5 vote. SENATOR PHILLIPS MOVED CSHB 112(FIN) from committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. SENATOR ADAMS objected. The MOTION CARRIED by a 5 to 1 vote and CSHB 112(FIN) was REPORTED OUT with a previous zero fiscal note from the Department of Revenue and a fiscal note from the Division of Elections (59.6). SB 141 CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITS SENATOR GREEN testified on behalf of the bill. SENATOR TORGERSON MOVED to adopt draft CS version "X" as CSSB 141(FIN). Without objection, it was ADOPTED. Also testifying were TUCKERMAN BABCOCK, RANDY SMITH, BRUCE OCKRASSA, MIKE CORKILL, PHIL NASH, ROD CHRISTOPHER, PATRICK JOHNSON, JOE MICHAUD, BILL JONES, GREGG OLSON, SCOTT CAMPBELL, HARRIS STUERMER, DIANE BUFFINGTON, BOB WISEMAN, DUANE BUELL, DICK BISHOP, DEL SMITH, LAUREE HUGONIN, ART SNOWDEN and ANN CARPENETI. The bill was HELD for further consideration. SB 9 CAPITAL PROJECT MATCHING GRANT FOR INDIAN RESERVATION SENATOR JERRY MACKIE, Sponsor, testified on behalf of the bill. He noted that a similar bill almost passed last session. He explained that it clarified language to include Metlakatla in the Capital Matching Grants program and clarified the intent of the act. He pointed out that Metlakatla also qualified for Unincorporated Community grants and the bill corrects that by excluding the village from that program. He addressed the question of whether the bill would include other municipalities organized under federal law as an Indian Reserve by stating that it only applied to Metlakatla. He cited a letter from Attorney General Bruce Botelho in support of the statement. SENATOR ADAMS brought up the village of Venetie, commenting that it should apply. SENATOR MACKIE referred to the Attorney General's letter in response, stating that Metlakatla was the only Indian Reservation recognized. SENATOR ADAMS MOVED SB 9 from committee with individual recommendations. Without objection, SB 9 was REPORTED OUT with previous zero fiscal notes from the Department of Administration and the Department of Community and Regional Affairs. HB 112 AMEND DEFINITION OF "POLITICAL PARTY" REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY testified on behalf of the bill. He explained that the bill addressed the fact that since 1970 the state had not elected a governor by majority vote. The legislation would encourage that possibility by providing additional means for a group of political active people to qualify as a party. It did not reduce anything in current statute but added to it as a supplemental way to qualify by providing that a party with a certain number of registered voters would not have to run a candidate but could still maintain its party status. SENATOR ADAMS asked about the three percent qualification. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained that a party must have registered voters equal to three percent of the votes cast for governor in the preceding election. In response to a question from SENATOR PHILLIPS, REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained that current law requires a party had to run a candidate and the candidate had to receive three percent of the vote. HB 112 would change it so that it would allow party status to vest based on registered voters. The following testimony was heard via teleconference: Fairbanks: DONNA GILBERT testified in support of the bill. She believed it was important, noting that governors had been elected with as little as 38.9 percent of the vote, which didn't allow for the majority to be represented. She supported giving political parties a choice as to whether or not they wanted to run a candidate in a statewide election. She described the services provided by political parties and described the effect of the bill. ROYCE CHAPMAN spoke in support of HB 112. He believed it would go a long way in helping every Alaskan to take part in the political process. He did not believe it would limit new or small parties. They would not be required to concentrate on raising large sums of money just to be listed on the ballot of a statewide race. MIKE PRAX also supported the legislation. It not only offered the opportunity to have the governor elected by a majority, it also gave other philosophical groups the opportunity to be recognized as a political party. Smaller parties provided a valuable service. Anchorage: KEN JACOBUS testified in favor of HB 112 for reasons already stated by others testifying. It made ballot access easier which was important to encourage people to participate in politics. Parties should not be forced to spend a lot of money on a race they cannot win in order to maintain their party status. Kodiak: DIANA BUFFINGTON, District Chair, Republican Party, supported HB 112. She stated it allowed minor political parties to become known and get their views out. It would make it easier to get into the political process. She urged the committee's support. SENATOR ADAMS asked to hear from the Department of Law concerning the legislation. He noted that he would be offering an amendment to page 1, lines 10 and 12 that would delete "preceding" and provide an effective date following the 1998 election. His reasoning was related to fairness to other organizations with regard to changing the law. JAMES BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law, opposed the legislation. He stated that there was a matter that involved the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, that being ballot access and freedom of political association. Courts require that the state show a compelling governmental interest in support of a statute that would affect ballot access. If there were some disparate effect on political parties, there should be some showing that this was the least restrictive means available to establish a goal. He stated there was a disparate treatment of now recognized political parties in the state because of the way the numbers break out for registered party members. The AIP's could sit out the next election while the Greens, if they could not muster additional voters to register their affiliation would not be able to sit out to retain their recognized party status. If the goal was to provide easier ballot access, it seemed to be at variance with the goal of majority vote, because it would mean they would not have a candidate on the ballot. The rationale of easier ballot access did not seem to hold up and he believed there was some other purpose for the legislation. MR. BALDWIN continued by stating that if the idea was to allow new political parties to form, there were other impediments that needed consideration. Campaign finance laws enacted last year had a different definition of political party. It had to meet the three percent rule or be recognized in the last five general elections. A newly registered party would not be able to qualify under those laws. He believed the legislation had "lawsuit written all over it." He respected the sponsor's position but stated there needs to be a much better case presented. He spoke briefly of other alternatives available. In response to a question from COCHAIR SHARP, MR. BALDWIN stated it was much more difficult to get people to register political affiliation than to get them to vote on a confidential ballot. SENATOR DONLEY asked if there had been any written opinion from the attorney general's office regarding the constitutionality of last year's campaign finance reform act. MR. BALDWIN clarified that there was not an issue of constitutionality, but a difference in definition. He restated the qualification for a political party under that act. Brief discussion ensued concerning constitutionality. SENATOR ADAMS MOVED Amendment #1. COCHAIR SHARP objected. SENATOR ADAMS reiterated his position that the amendment provided an opportunity for political associations to put their parties forward to give the people a choice. He believed it was an equal and fair consideration for other political groups, pointing out the legislation only benefited one group. A roll call vote was taken on the MOTION to adopt Amendment IN FAVOR: Adams OPPOSED: Phillips, Donley, Torgerson, Parnell, Sharp Amendment #1 FAILED by a 1 to 5 vote. General discussion followed regarding the bill. SENATOR DONLEY and COCHAIR SHARP spoke in support. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY noted a copy of a letter from Richard Winger in members' files that pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld a Louisiana law that required a party to have five percent of registered voters or receive five percent of the vote in an election. He stated HB 112 was well under that threshold. SENATOR ADAMS commented that the bill created limitations on the rights of political associations. He stated that in the next election the AIP would sit out the election while the Green Party would have to put forth a candidate. He believed it was politically motivated and opposed the underlying tone of the legislation. SENATOR PHILLIPS MOVED CSHB 112(FIN) from committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. SENATOR ADAMS objected. A roll call vote was taken on the MOTION. IN FAVOR: Donley, Torgerson, Parnell, Phillips, Sharp OPPOSED: Adams The MOTION CARRIED by a 5 to 1 vote and CSHB 112(FIN) was REPORTED OUT with a previous zero fiscal note from the Department of Revenue and a fiscal note from the Division of Elections (59.6). SB 141 CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITS SENATOR LYDA GREEN testified on behalf of the bill. She recalled last year's bill, SB 177, which was vetoed, and stated that SB 141 addresses some of the same concerns. She described differences in a proposed CS, version X. It extended the time frame for issuing a permit from fifteen to thirty days. Language was also amended to reflect the intent to not permit felons to ever carry concealed weapons. Another provision dealt with an instruction book with pertinent information concerning where it would be legal to carry concealed by making it consistent with where one could carry openly. A fourth change related to concerns raised last year about alcohol. A person carrying concealed would be prohibited from drinking alcohol in a restaurant. The last change had to do with permitting peace officers in Sections 4, 6 and 9. There had been some statewide objection, but she did not feel it was unreasonable to include peace officers. The main premise of the bill was that those permitted to apply for a concealed weapon permit and the places a person could carry a weapon would be consistent with those who were permitted to carry openly. It did not make sense to have a list of prohibitions for those carrying concealed when one did not exist for those who simply owned a gun. The consistency would reduce confusion and make the privilege of carry concealed what it was intended to be. SENATOR TORGERSON MOVED to adopt draft CS version "X" as CSSB 141(FIN). Without objection, it was ADOPTED. SENATOR ADAMS inquired what was being eliminated in the qualifications under the repealers. He asked if alcoholics would be able to get a permit. SENATOR GREEN responded that a list in federal law of people prohibited from carrying openly addressed alcohol and drug abuse. She believed the list was in committee files in a document from Legal Services dated 3/24/97. SENATOR ADAMS inquired about the repealer section, specifically AS 18.65.740, and asked for the rationale. End SFC-97 #115, Side 1, Begin Side 2 TUCKERMAN BABCOCK, Staff, Senator Green, explained that being convicted of two class A misdemeanors did not prevent carrying a handgun. If the intent of the legislature was to prohibit that, it would be a different issue than specifically trying to address the 6,000 people who have permits. SENATOR PARNELL pointed out a difference from last year's bill in that SB 141 greatly reduced the list of qualifications and requirements to obtain a permit. He questioned whether federal law covered those because he was unsure if it was even enforced in the state. He suggested including the list in statute. He asked which of the repealed sections were not covered by federal law. MR. BABCOCK responded that the list under AS 18.65 related only to those who apply for a concealed carry permit. It was a different list from those who could openly carry a handgun. All current prohibitions for people who openly carry a handgun would apply to those who applied for a concealed permit. The bill did not repeal any federal or state prohibition except those specifically referenced for the concealed carry and only apply to 6,000 people. COCHAIR SHARP called for statewide teleconference testimony next. He asked that testimony be limited to two minutes to allow everyone an opportunity to testify. Anchorage: RANDY SMITH favored the bill. He stated that it puts all Alaskans on an equal basis. He supported the provision on page 6, line 2 permitting retired law enforcement officers, but suggested a two year period for additional flexibility. He expressed a problem with the renewal section and suggested it include an update of federal and state law and a demonstration of competence. Another option would be to require the department to notify permittees by certified mail of any changes of the law within thirty days of the effective date. BRUCE OCKRASSA testified in support of SB 141. He believed that concealed carry laws were saving lives by reducing violent crime. MIKE CORKILL, Alaska Peace Officers Association, spoke to two provisions they had requested. He supported including police officers both within the state and from out-of-state. Retired peace officers had already received extensive training and he supported the waiver of some of the permitting process. He did not believe reciprocity for out- of-state permittees should be recognized across the board because other states permitting process was not as stringent as Alaska's. He also firmly believed that no convicted felon should ever be allowed to apply for a permit. He supported fees remaining the same. Kenai: PHIL NASH, Attorney, stated the fee issue was a non-issue. He noted that copies of current law were already provided in instructional classes. He referred to the repealer brought up earlier and explained that it would not affect anything. He supported reciprocity in order to allow Alaskans to carry concealed outside the state. He opposed the provisions for former administrative police officers, but not for "street cops." A special rule would perpetuate a "them and us mentality." ROD CHRISTOPHER, Instructor, Peninsula Weapons Academy, supported the provision for retired police officers, but believed they should take the law enforcement class to be brought up to date. Regarding restaurants serving alcohol, he believed that as long as a permittee stayed in the restaurant part of the establishment and did not consume alcohol, he should be allowed to carry a handgun in there. He believed the qualifications standards for classes should be raised. Homer: PATRICK JOHNSON, Law Enforcement Alliance of America, supported the inclusion of retired police officers, training requirements and reciprocity with other states. Valdez: JOE MICHAUD, Police Chief, Valdez Police Department, expressed his appreciation for the response to law enforcement personnel about some of their concerns. He briefly addressed the issue of reciprocity and spoke in favor of it. Barrow: BILL JONES testified in support of the bill. He supported carrying concealed in restaurants rather than having to leave the weapon in a vehicle. He also supported the reciprocity provision for protection for Alaskans traveling out-of-state. GREGG OLSON, Training Officer, Gun Club, supported SB 141. He appreciated the exemption for former police officers. He briefly addressed training of the legal portion of the permitting process. SCOTT CAMPBELL, Police Chief, North Slope Borough, supported the bill and appreciated the inclusion of police officers. He urged passage of the bill. HARRIS STUERMER testified in support, particularly the restaurant provision and the reciprocity provision. Kodiak: DIANA BUFFINGTON, District Chair, Republican Party, supported SB 141 because she had been a rape victim and felt women should be able to protect themselves. It would reduce domestic violence. She believed women particularly needed the law and it would make it easier to enact Second Amendment rights. Kenai: BOB WISEMAN supported the legislation for law-abiding citizens. He didn't support giving special privileges to former law enforcement officers. He supported reciprocity. He suggested using the commercial drivers' .04 blood alcohol level guideline for concealed carry permitting. RAYMOND CARR, Instructor, RNS Protection Services, testified in favor of SB 141 as written. The following individuals testified in person in Juneau: DUANE BUELL, Owner, Sporting Goods Store, Juneau, supported SB 141. He believed the bill was good for the permitting process. Reciprocity was a non-issue in that history in other states show now problems. He supported legal training for retired police officers. DICK BISHOP, Executive Director, Alaska Outdoor Council, stated the council's support for the adopted version CSSB 141(FIN). He supported consideration for ensuring retired police officers be kept current on laws. DEL SMITH, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Public Safety (DPS), testified that the concealed law was working well. There were 6,325 permittees as of 4/11/97. No permits had been rescinded for bad acts because of the effective screening process. He brought up a concern about rescinding the list of places where individuals were not allowed to carry concealed weapons as it related to domestic violence shelters. He supported meeting Alaska standards regarding reciprocity. In response to a question from SENATOR ADAMS regarding a thirty-day time period, he stated they could not get the necessary information from the FBI in that amount of time. They could take up to five months in getting back with a report, so they conduct a statewide check. If there is not indication of a problem, they submit the fingerprints to the FBI and issue a conditional permit. The average time was thirty days from the point of application to the issuance of a permit. SENATOR TORGERSON noted a provision referencing existing statute that municipalities and villages could have a local election opting to exclude concealed weapons. He inquired if there were any existing. MR. SMITH was not aware of any. LAUREE HUGONIN, Executive Director, Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, DPS, expressed concern with Sections 10, 13 and 15. Section 10 reduced the restrictions for qualifying permitees. She believed it was vague and referred to AS 12.55.015, noting that someone could still be eligible to possess a handgun. The court may order a forfeiture, but didn't have to. She also had concern that there was no list under AS 11.61.200 and believed federal law was not expansive enough to cover what was needed. ART SNOWDEN, Administrative Director, Alaska Court System, did not have a position. He suggested adding a section to prohibit the carrying of firearms in a judicial facility, with the exception of police officers, security guards and those that were part of evidence. End SFC-97 #115, Side 2 Begin SFC-97 #116, Side 1 In response to a question from SENATOR PARNELL, MR. SNOWDEN acknowledged that there was a court rule prohibiting firearms, but no law. People generally didn't know court rules and he believed a law would be appropriate. SENATOR ADAMS asked about federal laws. MR. SNOWDEN responded that there was a federal law that bans firearms in federal court, but it did not apply to state court. SENATOR ADAMS brought up concerns regarding people with alcohol and drug problems and the repealer section concerning training. MR. BABCOCK explained the repealer applied only to renewal, it was still a requirement for the original permit. Regarding the first concern, a person prohibited from possessing a handgun under state or federal law would also be prohibited from applying for a concealed carry permit. He referred to the 3/24/97 memo regarding the standards that would apply. There was additional discussion among SENATORS PARNELL, PHILLIPS, GREEN, ADAMS and MR. BABCOCK regarding clarification of the repealers section. ANN CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Law, explained the that a revision in the penalty section eliminated a B misdemeanor for carrying where prohibited, but did not provide a corresponding violation. SENATOR ADAMS believed there should be a penalty. COCHAIR SHARP asked if there would be forthcoming amendments. SENATORS ADAMS and PHILLIPS affirmed they would be proposing amendments. In response, COCHAIR SHARP announced that the bill would be HELD for further consideration. ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at approximately 11:00 A.M.