Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/18/1999 09:02 AM Senate FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                                        
March 18, 1999                                                                                                                  
9:02 AM                                                                                                                         
SFC-99 # 58, Side A & Side B                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair John Torgerson convened the meeting at                                                                                 
approximately 9:02 AM.                                                                                                          
Senator John Torgerson, Senator Sean Parnell, Senator Randy                                                                     
Phillips, Senator Gary Wilken, Senator Al Adams, Senator                                                                        
Lyda Green and Senator Dave Donley.                                                                                             
Also Attending:                                                                                                                 
JACK KREINHEDER, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of                                                                               
Management and Budget, Office of the Governor; MARGOT                                                                           
KNUTH, Assistant Attorney General, Department of                                                                                
Corrections; DEBORAH BEHR, Assistant Attorney General,                                                                          
Legislation and Regulations Section, Civil Division,                                                                            
Department of Law; CAROL CARROLL, Director, Division of                                                                         
Support Services, Department of Military and Veterans                                                                           
Affairs and Department of Natural Resources; NICO BUS,                                                                          
Administrative Services Manager, Division of Support                                                                            
Services, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and                                                                       
Department of Natural Resources; CATHERINE REARDON,                                                                             
Director; GEORGE UTERMOHLE, Legal Council, Legal Services                                                                       
Division, Legislative Affairs Agency.                                                                                           
Attending via Teleconference: From Anchorage: BLAIR MCCUNE,                                                                     
Deputy Director, Public Defender Agency, Department of                                                                          
Administration; DAVID LIEBERSBACK, Director, Division of                                                                        
Emergency Services, Department of Military and Veterans                                                                         
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                                                                             
SB 101-DEFINITION OF DISASTER                                                                                                   
The committee adopted a committee substitute and heard                                                                          
testimony from Legislative Legal Council and the Department                                                                     
of Military and Veterans Affairs. Amendment #2 was adopted.                                                                     
The bill was held in committee.                                                                                                 
SB  11-PRISON TIME CREDITS FOR MURDERERS                                                                                        
The committee heard testimony from the Department of                                                                            
Corrections and the Public Defenders Agency.  The bill was                                                                      
held in committee.                                                                                                              
SB  24-REGULATIONS: ADOPTION & JUDICIAL REVIEW                                                                                  
The committee amended and adopted a Committee Substitute.                                                                       
The bill was held in committee.                                                                                                 
SENATE BILL NO. 101                                                                                                             
"An Act amending the definition of 'disaster.'"                                                                                 
This was the second hearing for this bill.                                                                                      
Co-Chair John Torgerson shared a committee substitute he                                                                        
had prepared for the meeting and called upon a member of                                                                        
his staff to explain the changes.                                                                                               
DARWIN PETERSON, staff to Senator John Torgerson, explained                                                                     
the committee substitute.                                                                                                       
Section 1 amended the statute AS 26.23.020 to provide that                                                                      
a proclamation of disaster emergency is effective for only                                                                      
30 days unless extended by the Legislature by law.                                                                              
Section 2 repealed and reenacted AS 26.23.025 relating to                                                                       
the Legislature and disaster emergencies.                                                                                       
Section 8 set out the information the Governor must provide                                                                     
the Legislature upon declaring a disaster emergency.  This                                                                      
subsection also set out the procedure that the Governor                                                                         
must follow to obtain approval for additional money or                                                                          
expenditure authority from the Legislature to cope with a                                                                       
disaster.  Approval for additional money or expenditure                                                                         
authority could only be obtained by an act of the                                                                               
Subsection (b) provided that if a declaration of a disaster                                                                     
emergency occurs while the Legislature is in session or if                                                                      
a special session is held, actions taken by the Governor                                                                        
that are not ratified by law, adopted during that session                                                                       
are void.                                                                                                                       
Subsection (c) provided that the Legislature may terminate                                                                      
a declaration of disaster emergency any time by law.                                                                            
He explained some of the differences between the CS and the                                                                     
original bill. In current law, if the Legislature is                                                                            
session, the Governor's disaster declaration can be                                                                             
ratified by a current resolution.  If it was during the                                                                         
interim, a special session was convened unless the                                                                              
presiding officers of the House of Representatives and the                                                                      
Senate agree in writing that a special session was not                                                                          
necessary.  The Legislature may terminate a disaster                                                                            
emergency by concurrent resolution.                                                                                             
The committee substitute would require a disaster                                                                               
declaration to be ratified or terminated by law rather than                                                                     
by a concurrent resolution.  It would also require a                                                                            
special session to be convened during the interim to ratify                                                                     
a declaration.                                                                                                                  
Section 3 repealed and reenacted AS 26.23.300 that provided                                                                     
for the creation and operation of the disaster relief fund.                                                                     
Subsections (b) and (c) were in current law and stated that                                                                     
the Governor may expend up to $500,000 of the fund to                                                                           
address an event that posed a direct and imminent threat of                                                                     
disaster that warranted state action.  It also provided                                                                         
that the Governor could expend up to $1 million from the                                                                        
fund to address disaster.                                                                                                       
Subsections (d) through (h) were reenacted language.                                                                            
Subsection (d) provided that the Governor could expend up                                                                       
to $5 million from the fund to address a disaster resulting                                                                     
from certain specified events: fire, flood, earthquake,                                                                         
severe storm, tsunami, volcanic activity, epidemic,                                                                             
explosion, riot and release of oil or hazardous substance.                                                                      
Subsection (e) provided that the Governor could not exceed                                                                      
the spending limits set out in (c) and (d) unless the                                                                           
President of the United States declared the disaster to be                                                                      
a major disaster and the Legislature approved the                                                                               
expenditure of additional assets from the disaster relief                                                                       
Subsection (f) provided that a community or area was                                                                            
eligible only once for flood disaster relief funded from                                                                        
the disaster relief fund.                                                                                                       
Subsections (g) and (h) stated that the Governor shall                                                                          
provide an annual accounting of expenditures from the                                                                           
disaster relief fund and that the Governor could adopt                                                                          
regulations to implement this section.                                                                                          
Section 4 amended the definition of disaster. The language                                                                      
"a natural or manmade cause including" was removed "or                                                                          
shortage of food, water, fuel or clothing" was inserted.                                                                        
Subsection (a) "the event of weather condition" was removed                                                                     
and "severe storm" was inserted. Also deleted was the                                                                           
language, "or shortage of food, water, fuel or clothing".                                                                       
Senator Sean Parnell moved for adoption of CS SB 101                                                                            
Version "H".  Senator Al Adams objected.  He had questions                                                                      
on the special session provisions.  He wondered if there                                                                        
would be numerous special sessions.                                                                                             
He also felt the need to elaborate on the definition of                                                                         
"severe storms". It should include cold snaps and long term                                                                     
cold temperatures.  He then asked how often the community                                                                       
could have one flood - in a lifetime or annually.                                                                               
Co-Chair John Torgerson walked through his intentions.                                                                          
Most of the things incorporated were attempts to clarify                                                                        
language.  It would bring the Legislature back into a                                                                           
special session for expenditures over $5 million. This                                                                          
provision was inserted at the suggestion by Senator Dave                                                                        
He referred to a handout listing the incidences of                                                                              
disasters over $5 million. There were only two. Therefore,                                                                      
past history did not show that the Legislature would be in                                                                      
special sessions under this new provision.                                                                                      
The definition of "severe storms" was at the suggestion of                                                                      
Senator Randy Phillips to remove "weather conditions" and                                                                       
provide a broader definition.  He believed it would cover                                                                       
severe cold snaps.                                                                                                              
He noted that FEMA would not provide assistance for a                                                                           
second flood if their suggestions after the first flood                                                                         
were not heeded, such as building above the flood plain.                                                                        
He admitted the bill still needed work and that was the                                                                         
reason for this discussion.                                                                                                     
Senator Dave Donley explained that part of his proposal for                                                                     
the $5 million limit, was to include a safety valve to                                                                          
allow the presiding officers to poll the members of the                                                                         
Legislature to see if a majority supported allowing the                                                                         
Governor to go beyond $5 million. This was a way to avoid a                                                                     
special session. He still supported that and felt it was                                                                        
reasonable in a disaster situation.                                                                                             
Co-Chair John Torgerson said he wished to ask the                                                                               
Legislative Council from the Legal Services Division for an                                                                     
opinion on the issue of binding the Legislature through a                                                                       
Senator Al Adams asked if with the figures stated in the                                                                        
proposed CS, would the disaster relief fund be funded in                                                                        
the regular budget or be incorporated the special session.                                                                      
He then referred to another provision that stated a                                                                             
disaster relief could not continue for more than 30 days                                                                        
unless set into law. He wanted history of the length of                                                                         
prior disasters from the Division of Emergency Services.                                                                        
Co-Chair John Torgerson commented that provision was in                                                                         
existing law and that it could be looked at.                                                                                    
Co-Chair John Torgerson addressed the question on funding.                                                                      
This would not change any of the available funding                                                                              
mechanisms. The Governor was not prevented from taking                                                                          
funds where legally available to be used for the disaster.                                                                      
GEORGE UTERMOHLE, Legislative Council, Division of Legal                                                                        
Services, Legislative Affairs Agency, came to the table at                                                                      
the request of Co-Chair John Torgerson.  Co-Chair John                                                                          
Torgerson questioned him about polling the Legislature and                                                                      
the binding authority.  George Utermohle replied that there                                                                     
was precedent in the state for action to be taken other                                                                         
than passage of a law by the Legislature.  He detailed the                                                                      
reasons for this.                                                                                                               
Co-Chair John Torgerson asked if this was changed back to                                                                       
concurrent resolution, would the poll not be binding.                                                                           
George Utermohle responded that a decision or approval by                                                                       
the presiding officers would not be sufficient, nor would a                                                                     
concurrent resolution.                                                                                                          
Senator Dave Donley asked what was the difference between                                                                       
that method and the existing practice of the presiding                                                                          
officers giving approval to the Governor. George Utermohle                                                                      
answered that there was no difference.  Senator Dave Donley                                                                     
then challenged that the current law was also illegal.  Co-                                                                     
Chair John Torgerson explained the present law did not                                                                          
approve funds. The current decision made by the presiding                                                                       
officers was whether to come into a special session.                                                                            
Senator Dave Donley countered that was still binding                                                                            
because the Legislature could petition a special session.                                                                       
Co-Chair John Torgerson agreed.  There was further debate.                                                                      
Senator Al Adams noted the different funding limits set in                                                                      
the CS. He wanted to know if there was a requirement for a                                                                      
special session for any disaster over $1 million. George                                                                        
Utermohle it would require additional approval is obtained                                                                      
from the Legislature in that particular instance.  Co-Chair                                                                     
John Torgerson affirmed that the special session would be                                                                       
required for additional funding if the disaster didn't                                                                          
conform to the definition of disaster.                                                                                          
The CS SB 101 Version "H" Workdraft was adopted without                                                                         
DAVID LIEBERSBACK, Director, Division of Emergency                                                                              
Services, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs,                                                                          
testified via teleconference to the adopted CS.  He spoke                                                                       
to the need for special sessions. In the reality of his                                                                         
experience over the last few years, the special session                                                                         
would be required more often because there was no                                                                               
appropriation to the disaster relief fund and the fund was                                                                      
currently empty. Therefore, the Governor would need to call                                                                     
special session because he would not have other sources                                                                         
sufficient to cope with the disaster.                                                                                           
Co-Chair John Torgerson interrupted to ask what made him                                                                        
say that since no changes in the provisions for financing                                                                       
disasters were proposed.  David Liebersback responded that                                                                      
there was no money in the disaster relief fund and the                                                                          
provision stated that if there was no money in the fund to                                                                      
deal with the disaster a special session would be required.                                                                     
Co-Chair John Torgerson said that was not true, the                                                                             
Governor had the option of taking funds available to him                                                                        
from other departments to use for relief.                                                                                       
David Liebersback spoke to another potential problem under                                                                      
the special session provision and that was the time it                                                                          
would take to get the funding processed to enable relief                                                                        
He then noted numerous events over the past 20 years where                                                                      
flooding occurred in the same place.  He listed several                                                                         
floods in Anchorage, the Mat-Su Borough and Fairbanks.                                                                          
Without state money to match, the division would be unable                                                                      
to get federal funds for these floods.                                                                                          
Relating to the definition of disaster, David Liebersback                                                                       
felt that what had been done was good, but that it limited                                                                      
the division.  He suggested "resulting from and event                                                                           
including" would allow for the possibility on an unforeseen                                                                     
Senator Al Adams asked if he had a definition of severe                                                                         
storms.  David did not and said it would have to be                                                                             
Senator Sean Parnell wanted to know if there was a                                                                              
definition of severe storms that FEMA used.  He thought                                                                         
FEMA used similar language but wanted more information.                                                                         
Senator Lyda Green referred to US Code definition.  She had                                                                     
been concerned about the difference between disasters and                                                                       
major disasters noting the differing amounts of money spent                                                                     
to respond to each.                                                                                                             
Co-Chair John Torgerson asked for the definition of major                                                                       
catastrophe.  Would the Bristol Bay situation return to the                                                                     
definition?  Senator Lyda Green answered no.                                                                                    
Senator Sean Parnell commented on Senator Lyda Green's                                                                          
referral to the US code.                                                                                                        
Recess 9:30 AM teleconference connection lost - [recording                                                                      
affected] / 9:34 AM                                                                                                             
Senator Lyda Green continued talking about the federal                                                                          
definition of disasters that the state would have to                                                                            
provide matching funds to receive federal relief. It                                                                            
referred to a catastrophe being the trigger. Then a major                                                                       
disaster meant, "any natural catastrophe including,                                                                             
hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind driven water,                                                                       
tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption,                                                                             
landslide, mudslide, snow storm or drought. She thought                                                                         
Senator Loren Leman's drafted amendment followed that                                                                           
Co-Chair John Torgerson explained that Senator Loren Leman                                                                      
had drafted an amendment that was not yet distributed that                                                                      
incorporated many of Senator Lyda Green's suggestions. He                                                                       
gave her a copy of the amendment in case she wished to                                                                          
sponsor it. Senator Lyda Green said she would like to                                                                           
incorporate a definition of emergency into the amendment.                                                                       
Senator Al Adams requested Nico Bus to come to the table to                                                                     
answer questions about relief for fires. Under the proposed                                                                     
language, would the state avert federal funding for relief?                                                                     
NICO BUS, Administrative Services Manager, Division of                                                                          
Support Services, Department of Military and Veterans                                                                           
Affairs and Department of Natural Resources, commented on                                                                       
the fire program in general. The emergency statutes                                                                             
referred to both fire and the disaster relief fund.                                                                             
Previously, there was a fire suppression fund that was used                                                                     
for fire disasters.  That fund had been completely                                                                              
depleted.  The next recourse was through the disaster                                                                           
relief fund, where up to $1 million could be used.  He                                                                          
noted that fund was also depleted. When looking at money                                                                        
regularly appropriated for fire suppression, the fund was                                                                       
insufficient. Over the last four or five years, the                                                                             
department found itself in the position where they had to                                                                       
declare a disaster for even the smallest fires.  He                                                                             
detailed the budget expenditure process. Recently, the only                                                                     
option was to take funds from other governmental                                                                                
operations.  The Administration and the Legislature decided                                                                     
that was not a good plan. Government and projects should                                                                        
not be halted for this.  The solution was to do a financing                                                                     
plan then request a supplemental appropriation when the                                                                         
Legislature came back into regular session. The money was                                                                       
borrowed against the general fund. Under the CS, he was                                                                         
unsure if there would be many requests for special sessions                                                                     
because the financing plan would no longer be used. He felt                                                                     
that to borrow money from existing programs would be                                                                            
Co-Chair John Torgerson repeated that the financing schemes                                                                     
would not be changed. He stressed that while the department                                                                     
claimed each year that the disaster relief fund was under-                                                                      
funded, the Legislature never short funded the programs. As                                                                     
to the matter of special sessions, that was a call of this                                                                      
Senator Al Adams had a question on the CS if it would allow                                                                     
the capture of all available federal funds.  Nico Bus                                                                           
responded that most of the federal funds appropriated to                                                                        
both the Department of Natural Resources and the Department                                                                     
of Military and Veterans Affairs was sufficient.  The                                                                           
problem was with the federal fund appropriations.                                                                               
Senator Lyda Green noted her amendment was being drafted.                                                                       
There was another issue regarding Senator Randy Phillips'                                                                       
proposed amendment to the original bill relating to the                                                                         
Department of Commerce and Economic Development for                                                                             
economic disasters.  She felt the committee should address                                                                      
one type of disaster without addressing the other.                                                                              
Senator Randy Phillips moved for adoption of Amendment #1                                                                       
with technical changes to comply with the CS Version "H".                                                                       
BRUCE CAMPBELL, staff to Senator Randy Phillips, explained                                                                      
the amendment. There had been some concern about the                                                                            
assistance grants language. Discussions with George                                                                             
Utermohle changed their understanding of what that language                                                                     
meant. Furthermore, this amendment would add language in                                                                        
which the government shall encourage private capital. There                                                                     
seemed to be implications on line 14 that the capital                                                                           
projects were public capital projects. They wanted to make                                                                      
sure it was clear that it could include private, as well as                                                                     
capital projects for economic disasters. In an economic                                                                         
disaster, the Governor could select projects that needed to                                                                     
be moved forward rapidly in permit review and other capital                                                                     
Senator Dave Donley wondered what would be different about                                                                      
this law compared to the current law.  Bruce Campbell                                                                           
explained that the new language would encourage the                                                                             
Governor to move more quickly with permit packages.  He                                                                         
detailed a past instances with the Southeast timber                                                                             
disasters where if the Governor had the power, state land                                                                       
could have been opened and the mills possibly kept open.                                                                        
While if may or may not work, he stressed the need to offer                                                                     
the opportunity.                                                                                                                
Senator Lyda Green suggested the federal definition of                                                                          
economic disaster added to this section.  She read, "the                                                                        
annual income to workers in the designated area drop below                                                                      
the average annual income for the base period for workers                                                                       
in the designated area and the drop in income is of just                                                                        
Senator Sean Parnell said it would open the title up for                                                                        
further review and the question was whether the committee                                                                       
wished to only address natural disasters or add economic                                                                        
disaster.  Senator Lyda Green felt this was the section                                                                         
where natural disasters fell and thought they needed to                                                                         
oversee that.                                                                                                                   
Senator Sean Parnell agreed and noted that if the title                                                                         
would be opened it should be dealt with in this committee                                                                       
rather than passing the bill along.                                                                                             
Co-Chair John Torgerson understood the intent and didn't                                                                        
disagree that there needed to be work done with the                                                                             
economic disasters.  However, he didn't think this                                                                              
amendment would accomplish that without causing more                                                                            
Senator Sean Parnell said if it was to be added it needed                                                                       
to be dealt with here.                                                                                                          
Senator Randy Phillips offered holding this amendment until                                                                     
after the other amendments were heard.                                                                                          
Co-Chair John Torgerson asked David Liebersback how much                                                                        
total funds could be distributed under economic disasters.                                                                      
David said his department didn't handle the economic                                                                            
disasters, the Department of Commerce and Economic                                                                              
Development did. He didn't have that information. Co-Chair                                                                      
John Torgerson said his office would request that                                                                               
information from the Department of Commerce and Economic                                                                        
Senator Randy Phillips withdrew his motion to adopt                                                                             
Amendment #1.                                                                                                                   
Senator Randy Phillips moved for adoption of Amendment #2.                                                                      
Co-Chair John Torgerson explained would delete the term, "a                                                                     
major disaster" and reinsert, "determined by the President                                                                      
of the United States to cause damage of significant                                                                             
severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance                                                                     
under the Federal Disaster Relief Act of 1974."  This was                                                                       
to address the concern that there could be a major disaster                                                                     
but it may not qualify for federal disaster relief aid.                                                                         
Senator Al Adams asked if this amendment would cover all                                                                        
federal funds that might be available. Would it limit the                                                                       
state's ability to obtain federal funds?                                                                                        
Tape: SFC - 99 #58, Side B 9:54 AM                                                                                              
Senator Al Adams concluded his question.                                                                                        
Co-Chair John Torgerson answered no, it authorized the                                                                          
Governor to obtain funds from all sources.  It just said                                                                        
that before the Governor could spend over $1 million, or $5                                                                     
million, the disaster must be declared to qualify under the                                                                     
federal standards.                                                                                                              
Amendment #2 was adopted without objection.                                                                                     
Senator Randy Phillips moved for adoption of Amendment #3.                                                                      
Senator Randy Phillips explained this was to address a                                                                          
concern that the department expressed.  Co-Chair John                                                                           
Torgerson objected because the language, "such as" may be                                                                       
too broad.                                                                                                                      
Senator Al Adams commented this amendment was similar to                                                                        
the suggestions made by David Liebersback to insert,                                                                            
".resulting from a cause, including."                                                                                           
CAROL CARROLL, Director, Division of Support Services,                                                                          
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, came to the                                                                        
table. She addressed the question of whether Senator Randy                                                                      
Phillips's amendment would take care of the concerns of the                                                                     
Division of Emergency Services. It would. She restated the                                                                      
concerns that it was unknown what types of events would be.                                                                     
By limiting events to a list of disasters, some events may                                                                      
be excluded that the Legislature may later want to declare.                                                                     
Senator Randy Phillips said he now viewed the change as                                                                         
opening it up rather than narrowing it down.  He didn't                                                                         
want to do that.  He withdrew his motion to adopt Amendment                                                                     
Senator Dave Donley moved to amend and adopt Amendment #4.                                                                      
He detailed the technical change to line 20 to insert, "in                                                                      
writing" and spoke to the intent of the amendment to have                                                                       
the notice and the assent in writing. He felt it was                                                                            
important to have discussion on the special session matter.                                                                     
He was not convinced that this was the answer, but it would                                                                     
facilitate a discussion. He agreed with the provisions in                                                                       
the CS placing the $5 million limit before additional                                                                           
Legislative appropriation. He wanted the committee to talk                                                                      
about the flexibility to avoid a special session.                                                                               
Senator Sean Parnell wanted to know if it was the intent                                                                        
that all members of the respective houses be polled in                                                                          
writing.  Senator Dave Donley answered it was.                                                                                  
Senator Sean Parnell moved to amend Amendment #4 to insert                                                                      
"all" following "after polling". Senator Al Adams requested                                                                     
the amendment be read in its proposed form.  Senator Dave                                                                       
Donley complied.                                                                                                                
Without objection Amendment #4 was amended to change "in                                                                        
writing".  Without objection, Amendment #4 amended was                                                                          
amended to insert the word "all".                                                                                               
Co-Chair John Torgerson said his earlier object to the                                                                          
polling was under the pretense that the committee would be                                                                      
approving money to exceed the $1 million or the $5 million                                                                      
disaster cap. But under this amendment, the questions                                                                           
before the members would only be whether or not to come                                                                         
into special session. George Utermohle affirmed and                                                                             
Co-Chair John Torgerson asked if this basically conformed                                                                       
to the CS or was there major changes.  George Utermohle                                                                         
explained that including this amendment into the CS would                                                                       
require a substantial change to the structure.  Co-Chair                                                                        
John Torgerson wanted to know if it would affect just the                                                                       
polling or if it would change other provisions as well.                                                                         
George Utermohle replied that it would make major changes                                                                       
to the CS. The conceptual issue of capping the Governor's                                                                       
unrestricted expenditures at $5 million was consistent.                                                                         
But how those two melded in the CS and the amendment took                                                                       
different approaches. A new CS would probably be required                                                                       
to see how they worked together.                                                                                                
Senator Dave Donley was willing to withdraw the amendment                                                                       
and draft another to the CS version to offer on the Senate                                                                      
floor.  Co-Chair John Torgerson did not have a problem with                                                                     
the approach but just wanted to understand what was being                                                                       
changed. He spoke to his concerns with the polling of the                                                                       
George Utermohle said he would need to have time to study                                                                       
and compare the effects of the CS and the amendment.                                                                            
Senator Dave Donley said it was too major to send out of                                                                        
Senate Finance Committee incomplete.                                                                                            
Senator Randy Phillips suggested that Senator Lyda Green's                                                                      
concern with Amendment #1 could also be worked on in a new                                                                      
CS. Co-Chair John Torgerson spoke of the effect this bill                                                                       
would have on the FY99 supplemental budget bill.                                                                                
Senator Dave Donley felt the CS was adequate and he did not                                                                     
want it to impede the supplemental budget.  Co-Chair John                                                                       
Torgerson said the matter should be debated before the bill                                                                     
left committee.                                                                                                                 
Senator Sean Parnell offered to take up the bill the next                                                                       
day. Co-Chair John Torgerson said it was his intent that                                                                        
the bill held in committee until the Monday meeting.                                                                            
He wanted direction from the committee on Amendment #1.                                                                         
Senator Gary Wilken felt the two should be separate.  Co-                                                                       
Chair John Torgerson asked if Senator Lyda Green would                                                                          
consider separate legislation to address economic disaster.                                                                     
Senator Lyda Green didn't see how one could be addressed                                                                        
without consideration of the other.                                                                                             
Senator Sean Parnell commented that the economic disasters                                                                      
might have been a more appropriate route with this bill.                                                                        
He reread the definition of economic disasters and                                                                              
concluded the economic disaster section was pointed                                                                             
directly at helping people whose income had been                                                                                
dramatically affected.  The question was, did the committee                                                                     
want to open that matter up as well.  It could be such that                                                                     
once the emergency disaster statutes were fixed, then the                                                                       
Administration had the option to utilize the current                                                                            
economic disaster statute as it was. The difference would                                                                       
be that when the Governor designated an area as being an                                                                        
economic disaster are, the Legislature then considered                                                                          
whether to appropriate the money.  He didn't see an                                                                             
automatic appropriation by the Governor.                                                                                        
Senator Lyda Green said it appeared there was a very high                                                                       
standard since the income had to drop below the base income                                                                     
for workers in the designated areas and the average family                                                                      
of all residents had to drop below the poverty guideline.                                                                       
She was unsure if the Western Alaska Fishing Disaster would                                                                     
have qualified. She still felt the matter needed to be                                                                          
considered Senator Sean Parnell said the point was well                                                                         
Co-Chair John Torgerson asked Senator Lyda Green to                                                                             
research the matter.  It was his desire that if it involved                                                                     
a major change, it be handled as separate legislation.  If                                                                      
it were a small change, it could be incorporated in this                                                                        
Senator Al Adams requested consideration be given to the                                                                        
definition of severe storms.  Co-Chair John Torgerson                                                                           
Senator Dave Donley withdrew his motion to adopt Amendment                                                                      
Senator Al Adams requested the adopted amendment                                                                                
incorporated into the new CS for the members to review.                                                                         
Co-Chair John Torgerson ordered the bill held in committee.                                                                     
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 11(JUD)                                                                                                  
"An Act relating to good time credits for prisoners                                                                             
serving sentences of imprisonment for certain                                                                                   
Senator Dave Donley spoke to the bill he sponsored.  He                                                                         
told the committee that Alaska had possibly the most                                                                            
liberal good-time laws in the nation as it allowed                                                                              
reduction of sentences by one-third for good-time.  The                                                                         
federal standard recommended to all states was that 85-                                                                         
percent of sentences be served. In Alaska, good time                                                                            
reduced that to 66-percent. At least 29 states had adopted                                                                      
the federal standard.                                                                                                           
SB 11 would implement the federal standards in an indirect                                                                      
way, for those serving time for first- and second-degree                                                                        
murder for Alaska.  It would say that good time for those                                                                       
who had committed first- and second-degree murder would be                                                                      
only one-half of what it would be for any other type of                                                                         
crime in Alaska. It was still slightly below the federal                                                                        
standards, but was close and would only apply to those                                                                          
serving time for first- and second-degree murder. He noted                                                                      
a great moral and ethical gap between the crimes of first-                                                                      
and second-degree murder and other crimes and they should                                                                       
be dealt with differently.                                                                                                      
The reason there were no fiscal notes was because the                                                                           
prisoners were already serving lengthy sentences and costs                                                                      
would be incurred beyond the five-year projection of the                                                                        
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
He continued saying the idea only partially came from the                                                                       
desire to comply with the national standard. He spoke about                                                                     
attending a ceremony honoring victims of violent crimes and                                                                     
hearing from family members with concerns that many of the                                                                      
perpetrators were already being released from prison under                                                                      
the good-time rules.                                                                                                            
Senator Al Adams appreciated the cause of the bill with the                                                                     
victim's families.  However, he was concerned with the                                                                          
fiscal impact and the potential for lawsuits from prisoners                                                                     
challenging the removal of their rights. He detailed the                                                                        
amount of additional time of incarceration for these                                                                            
Senator Dave Donley said Senator Al Adams was correct in                                                                        
that there would be a fiscal impact in the future but                                                                           
countered that 30 other states had similar statutes and he                                                                      
felt the bill was important.  He noted the seriousness of                                                                       
first- and second-degree murder. He spoke to the                                                                                
possibility of only applying the provision to those serving                                                                     
the shorter, second-degree murder sentences. The greatest                                                                       
benefit would occur for those with the shorter sentences,                                                                       
since those inmates would have to serve 83.5-percent of                                                                         
their sentences. However, he believed it would be                                                                               
inconsistent and suspect if it only applied to those                                                                            
convicted of second-degree murder.                                                                                              
Senator Randy Phillips commented that if the budget were in                                                                     
a better position, the fiscal argument would not even come                                                                      
Senator Sean Parnell felt Senator Dave Donley expressed the                                                                     
distinction of these very serious crimes. He agreed the                                                                         
legislation would serve public policies of deterrence and                                                                       
community justice and restoration. Both related to the                                                                          
victims and the offenders. There was a multitude of public                                                                      
policies that were reflected in this legislation as it                                                                          
related to these very serious crimes.                                                                                           
Senator Al Adams believed the fiscal notes should reflect                                                                       
the costs and that the Legislature would have to also fund                                                                      
programs such as the public defender's office that would be                                                                     
MARGO KNUTH, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law                                                                      
working for the Department of Corrections, testified that                                                                       
this was an expensive proposition.  She said if this law                                                                        
had been in effect in the last 12 months, the cost in the                                                                       
last year would be over $1 million.  If the law had been in                                                                     
effect since statehood, the cost would be $50 million to                                                                        
She said another consideration was the high cost of                                                                             
geriatrics in the prison system. Those costs were not                                                                           
included in her figures above.  If the time were extended,                                                                      
the state would be responsible for the cost of care for                                                                         
people in their fifties and sixties.  The national average                                                                      
cost of prison for each inmate was $23,000 a year. For                                                                          
prisoners over the age of fifty, the cost jumped to over                                                                        
$67,000 per year.                                                                                                               
Co-Chair John Torgerson asked if murder one and murder two                                                                      
could be separated without violating the Equal Protection                                                                       
Clauses.  Margot Knuth said it could be done but would not                                                                      
address the sponsor's desire to focus the punishment on                                                                         
those convicted of murder two.                                                                                                  
She continued that this bill would separate the prisoners                                                                       
into two different classes, those sentenced before and                                                                          
those after 1999.  This would cause problems for the                                                                            
Senator Dave Donley argued that the Legislature was                                                                             
spending a lot of money to provide new technology to the                                                                        
department that would make this easier.  He referred to                                                                         
testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee that some of                                                                        
the sentences served were under ten years.  Margot Knuth                                                                        
said none were under ten, the lowest was 14 years.  The                                                                         
longest term imposed was 104 years.  She read the length of                                                                     
the sentences imposed by the court.  There were a few                                                                           
instances were the court exercised its right to give                                                                            
Senator Dave Donley asked what was her counter proposal to                                                                      
prevent second degree murder convicts from early release.                                                                       
Margot Knuth said that the Legislature imposing the                                                                             
sentences in criminal cases would be a difficult matter.                                                                        
The way the constitution set up the government, the                                                                             
Judiciary Branch was given the authority to set sentences                                                                       
unless there was a higher mandatory minimum for murder in                                                                       
the second degree. Currently, the mandatory minimum was                                                                         
five years as set by the Legislature.                                                                                           
Senator Al Adams asked if there was any good standard used                                                                      
in other states that would work in Alaska.  Margot Knuth                                                                        
said the federal government encouraged states to follow an                                                                      
85-percent truth in sentencing formula for all crimes.                                                                          
However, that would be prohibitively expensive because the                                                                      
sentencing rules were so strict in Alaska. The states that                                                                      
followed the 85-percent rate had much lower initial                                                                             
She added that the good-time provisions were used on the                                                                        
parole end to allow for parole oversight. This legislation                                                                      
would cause unintended consequences. Sometimes the                                                                              
defendants with the murder two sentences were the ones that                                                                     
should be most closely supervised.                                                                                              
Senator Dave Donley said the parole time could be extended                                                                      
in statute.  He felt that would be a good idea with or                                                                          
without this legislation.                                                                                                       
Co-Chair John Torgerson expressed a desire to find out the                                                                      
long-term fiscal impact.                                                                                                        
BLAIR MCCUNE, Deputy Director, Public Defender Agency,                                                                          
Department of Administration, testified via teleconference                                                                      
from Anchorage. He told the committee that under the equal                                                                      
protection issue, his office would probably have some Rule                                                                      
35.1 Post Conviction Release Applications filed. However,                                                                       
they were less viable then they had been under the previous                                                                     
version of this bill.  He pointed out the federal standards                                                                     
to his understanding was intended to address the entire                                                                         
sentencing structure. Other states had more discretionary                                                                       
parole options than Alaska.                                                                                                     
He added that when prisoners received very long sentences                                                                       
they tended to be very institutionalized by the time of                                                                         
their release and took longer to reintegrate into the                                                                           
He commented on the longer parole time as suggested by                                                                          
Senator Dave Donley. The length of the sentence set the                                                                         
parole period, so it would depend on the length of the                                                                          
total sentence.                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair John Torgerson ordered the bill held in committee.                                                                     
Tape: SFC - 99 #59, Side A                                                                                                      
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 24(JUD)                                                                                                  
"An Act relating to regulations; relating to                                                                                    
administrative adjudications; amending Rule 65, Alaska                                                                          
Rules of Civil Procedure; and providing for an                                                                                  
effective date."                                                                                                                
Senator Dave Donley moved for adoption of the CS SB 24                                                                          
Version "V".  Senator Al Adams objected for question.  He                                                                       
felt bill should wait for similar bills. He noted SB 106,                                                                       
addressed the Department of Health and Social Services as                                                                       
one. He felt SB 24 should delete Department of Health and                                                                       
Social Services provisions and be handled under SB 106.                                                                         
After those comments, Senator Al Adams withdrew his                                                                             
Senator Dave Donley said he thought the CS would address                                                                        
Senator Al Adams's concerns. It narrowed the applicability                                                                      
to just the Department of Natural Resources, Department of                                                                      
Fish and Game and Department of Environmental Conservation.                                                                     
Co-Chair John Torgerson detailed the changes in the CS.                                                                         
Section 16, which set the time limits, was covered in SB
Section 2 language was inserted, "except for designated                                                                         
state agencies".                                                                                                                
Subsection (b) addressed the cost and benefit requirement.                                                                      
His intent was that if a fiscal note were passed with a                                                                         
bill that was not substantial changed by the adoption of                                                                        
the regulation the fiscal note would work as the cost                                                                           
benefit analysis. The fiscal note would then be included in                                                                     
the explanation in the public release of the regulation.                                                                        
If the Legislature passed a law, it was therefore                                                                               
determined through the process whether or not the benefits                                                                      
were to the public's best interest.  To then require the                                                                        
Administration to do a cost benefit analysis on those                                                                           
regulations would be duplication. The intent was to lessen                                                                      
the amount of work required of the agencies                                                                                     
Section 9 was language dealing another section and would                                                                        
probably be amended out.                                                                                                        
On page 7 the remainder of the sentence regarding good                                                                          
faith attempt on line 3 was removed. It could be hard to                                                                        
defend in court what a good faith attempt was.                                                                                  
Section 16, the time limit section, might be the same that                                                                      
Senator Robin Taylor was attempting with SB 106. Senator Al                                                                     
Adams requested comments from the departments on this                                                                           
Section 17 was new and defined "designated agencies". This                                                                      
CS would only apply to the Department of Environmental                                                                          
Conservation, Department of Natural Resources and the                                                                           
Division of Habitat and Restoration, Department of Fish and                                                                     
Game. It did not include any functions controlled by a                                                                          
board or commission and it did not include an                                                                                   
organizational entity whose members were confirmed by the                                                                       
Senator Dave Donley liked the CS with the exception of                                                                          
Section 8. He didn't feel it would give the public                                                                              
appropriate notice of what the department intended to adopt                                                                     
in regulations. He asked if the CS could be adopted without                                                                     
that section.  He said the original intent of the bill was                                                                      
to give clear notice to the public of the actual regulation                                                                     
the agencies were going to adopt.  He felt the changes in                                                                       
Section 8 went against that. He wanted to see the fiscal                                                                        
notes reflecting the exclusion of Section 8.                                                                                    
Senator Dave Donley moved to amend CS SB 24 Version "V" to                                                                      
delete Section 8 (Amendment #10). Without objection, it was                                                                     
CS SB 101 Version "V" as amended was adopted as a Workdraft                                                                     
without objection.                                                                                                              
Senator Randy Phillips asked if the number of fiscal notes                                                                      
would be reduced.  Co-Chair John Torgerson liked what the                                                                       
sponsor was doing but needed to limit the amount of the                                                                         
fiscal notes. That was why he narrowed the focus down three                                                                     
The bill was held in committee.                                                                                                 
Co-Chair John Torgerson said he would advise members                                                                            
whether there would be a meeting the next day.                                                                                  
Senator Torgerson adjourned the meeting at 10:51 AM.                                                                            
SFC-99 (20) 3/18/99                                                                                                             

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